Director of Casa Alianza Honduras attacked and beaten by uniformed police – we suspect for speaking up about the ever-increasing killings of children and youth while the Honduran government continue to look the other way.
On the 9th of May, at roughly half past midnight, the Director of Casa Alianza Honduras, José Guadalupe Ruelas, was driving home after attending an event in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
The next thing he knew, a motorbike had smashed into his vehicle and seven uniformed members of the local military police were dragging him out by the scruff of the neck. They proceeded to beat and kick him savagely, before depositing him at a police post where they breathalysed him a total of six times – and each time the test came back negative for alcohol.
The official response of the Honduran police has been to claim that José Guadalupe was “drunk”.
The injuries José Guadalupe sustained – bruising to his back, stomach, face and ribs – were so severe that he had to be hospitalised, with armed guards posted at his door for his own security.
“Enough is enough – stop the slaughter of Honduran children”
It’s not hard to work out the motives behind this violent assault.
Casa Alianza Honduras had recently issued their monthly report, entitled Informe Mensual de la Situación de los Derechos de los Niños, Niñas y Jóvenes en Honduras (Monthly Report into the Situation regarding the Rights of Children and Youth in Honduras), which stated:
“in the month of March, a total of 93 children and minors under 23 years of age were the victims of a violent death and/or arbitrary execution compared to the 84 such registered deaths in February. These numbers reflect the pain of hundreds of Honduran families who have been left bereft against a backdrop of utter defencelessness”.
In total, the report states, 270 Honduran children have been murdered in the first three months of 2014.
Speaking from his hospital bed, José Guadalupe was in no doubt about the attempts to silence Casa Alianza’s advocacy work on behalf of the country’s street children.
“The men who dragged me out of my car and beat me were the police and military personnel of President Juan Orlando Hernández,” he says. “All because I have denounced the fact that there is a systematic campaign of killings of children in Honduras. I’m not going to keep quiet and what they’ve done to me simply gives me even more strength, and shows that we’re right”.
From the top down – a terrifying culture of impunity
Over recent years, people defending human rights in Honduras have been murdered, criminalised, harassed, intimidated, threatened and publicly discredited. This treatment represents a clear violation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders passed in 1998.
Casa Alianza UK is calling for the Government of Honduras to fully and independently investigate the incident, and arrest those responsible without delay. We have also requested that the Government take urgent measures to protect the staff of Casa Alianza Honduras and their families.
How you can help
We’re sure that you will share our outrage over this attack and deep concern for the wellbeing of José Guadalupe and all the members of staff at Casa Alianza Honduras. For the time being, we would ask you to follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on this very worrying situation.
And as José Guadalupe is at pains to point out, let’s not forget the real victims in all of this. “What I’ve suffered in this attack is absolutely nothing compared to what children suffer every single day in this country.”