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Anti-Militarism: News & Updates
April 7, 2020
Friends of Immigrants supports migrants and refugees locally in NE Ohio as well as at the US/Mexico Border. Join us to learn about various initiatives in defense and support of our immigrant sisters and brothers. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday evening of each month in rotation at St. Dominic, Forest Hill, and St. Paschal Baylon.
April 4, 2020
The government of Honduras must hold accountable any police and security forces who unnecessarily or unlawfully restrict the work of journalists who are exercising the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. On April 1, journalists Roger David Iraeta, Onán Zaldivar, and Edward Azael Fernández were reporting on a road blockade set up by residents on the highway from San Pedro Sula to Santa Bárbara as an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The National Police and other public security forces threw tear gas canisters at the demonstrators to break up the blockade. The police assaulted the journalists, confiscated their equipment, and erased the footage they had just recorded. All three were taken to the police station in La Ceibita and held for several hours, unaware of what criminal charges were being brought against them.
April 1, 2020
Evelyn Johana Castillo is the assistant coordinator of the Ojojona Women's Network. In the mid-afternoon of March 24, Evelyn and her husband and adult daughter were out buying food when a police officer named Ramírez approached them, began to revise her daughter’s purse, then told Castillo to “shut up because you are disrespecting me.” The officer then ordered another officer (Andino) to take her into custody. Officer Andino began to aggressively detain Evelyn Castillo by pushing, pulling and shoving her. Evelyn Castillo says that this attack was actually a reprisal against her by Officer Ramírez. She explains that two days beforehand, a conflict arose when she came to the aid of a vendor in the park, defending her against Officer Ramírez who was trying to evict the vendor, even though her sales had been authorized by the municipal police. As Officer Ramírez placed Evelyn Castillo in the jail cell on March 24, the officer said to Evelyn: “You remember what happened the other day? You don’t think that I have forgotten.”
RRN Case Update
April 1, 2020
January, February, and March RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
March 26, 2020
Police and military are using aggression against journalists in Honduras to impede their reporting of government suppression of civil rights during the emergency "stay-at-home" order issued by the national government on March 15. In addition to pushing and slapping journalists, security force personnel have damaged recording and broadcasting equipment. Channel 6 reporter Paola Cobos reported live about the physical aggression by National Police against her and her camerman in Tegucigalpa on March 24.
March 26, 2020
IRTF joins with 74 organizations calling on the Dept of Justice to immediately close the immigration courts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every link in the chain that brings individuals to the court—from the use of public transportation, to security lines, crowded elevators, cramped cubicle spaces of court staff, packed waiting room facilities in the courthouses, and inadequate sanitizing resources at the courts—places lives at risk.
March 25, 2020
More than 500 people have been arbitrarily detained by police and military during a crackdown in the context of this health crisis. Yesterday, in a neighborhood of Comayagüela, neighborhood women prepared food and took it to the street. When five men gathered to share the meal, police arrested and locked them up in a nearby police station; police warned the women to stop any such solidarity activities and shut themselves in their houses. (After advocacy by the women, the men were later released.)
March 24, 2020
The report, marked “For Official Use Only” and dated March 19, states that ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Health Services Corps had isolated nine detainees and that it was monitoring 24 more in 10 different ICE facilities. In June, this reporter had obtained an internal ICE memo describing multiple deaths in ICE custody as having been preventable. The memo, sent from an ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) official to ICE’s then-director, Matthew Albence, in December 2018, stated: “IHSC [ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has occurred.” Unsanitary conditions in both ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) detention facilities are well-documented, and have led to concerns about facilitating the spread of coronavirus. In July, a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Inspector General report found “dangerous overcrowding” and squalid conditions among its southern border facilities. Last week, two doctors who work for the DHS wrote a letter to Congress warning of an “imminent risk to the health and safety of immigrant detainees” as well as the general public in the event that the coronavirus spreads among ICE detention facilities. In addition to the two DHS doctors who warned Congress about the dangers posed by the detention facilities, 3,000 medical professionals signed an open letter urging ICE to release its detainees in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 51 ICE detainees sent a letter to rights groups warning that they were being exposed to flu-like symptoms.
March 23, 2020
Colombian Armed Forces killed 23 inmates when they used indiscriminate gunfire at La Modelo prison in Bogotá on March 22. La Modelo inmates had joined with prisoners across the country who were holding simultaneous protests against unhealthy conditions, overcrowding, and lack of protections against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Colombian courts have declared the lack of health and overcrowding illegal and in violation of the constitution. Immediate measures must be taken to alleviate overcrowding and improve sanitation and health in the prison system. Here's one: release the more than 300 political prisoners and prisoners of war who should already have been released under provisions of the 2016 Peace Accords.
March 22, 2020
The Colombian peace and justice organization Justapaz recently learned of a pamphlet where they were described as an immediate military target by the paramilitary group Águilas Negras (Black Eagles). The pamphlet is not the first time that Justapaz has been threatened. This threat, however, is much more specific; it threatens to target Justapaz members’ families and children at their schools. To protect the important and legitimate work of Justapaz, we are calling on the government of Colombia to take immediate action to protect members of Justapaz and their partners across the country.