Women Mobilize in Front of White House, Worldwide Against Coup in Honduras

July 22nd, 2009

CONTACT Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517 Lisa Veneklasen, Just Associates (JASS) director, 202-232-1211

WHAT: Women to rally against Honduras coup, call on US to take stronger stance WHEN: 10 a.m. July 22 WHERE: In front of White House

WASHINGTON -- Here tomorrow and in solidarity around the world, women will unite and mobilize to pressure the U.S. government and international organizations to take a stronger stand against the June 28 coup in Honduras. Rallies will take place in at least 10 cities including Tegucigalpa, Honduras, San Jose, Costa Rica, Mexico City.

The Washington rally begins at 10 a.m. ET in front of the White House, and is jointly organized by JASS, CODEPINK, the Global Fund for Women, and Women of Color United – all national and international feminist organizations, along with DC-based, Hondurans for Democracy, and others.

Responding to a call to action from Honduran Feminists in Resistance, women will be speaking with one voice: “No to the coup, no to violence, yes to democracy, yes to rule of law.”

Global Fund for Women CEO Kavita Ramdas notes that while coup supporters claim legitimacy for their actions, facts on the ground show otherwise. “ Civil society organizations have documented repeated violations of human rights, including the violent suppression of civilian demonstrations, military attacks on communities and detentions," Ramdas said. "This is not democracy.”

Though leaders throughout the world have expressed concern, women's groups feel governments could be doing much more.

“We are asking feminists, as people who uphold the country's democracy, to demand that their governments not recognize the illegitimate government," said Gilda Rivera, Center for Women's Rights in Honduras, one of the organizers spearheading the rallies. "This is not about support for or against Mel [Zelaya]. We are against military coups, and…against the religious right who have enthroned themselves in this de facto government and who have taken measures in Congress against the most basic rights of women.”

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, who recently returned from a mission to Honduras, said, “The women I met with in the marches are determined not only to get back the President they elected but also to amend the constitution to protect women's rights.”

The rallies support the key demands of the Honduran Feminists in Resistance which include:

• A clear condemnation by the US Government of the military-political coup against the State of Honduras; The unconditional support for the return of constitutional order in Honduras, which implies the return of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales to Honduras;
• The cessation of repression against organizations protesting the coup, which is being carried out by political and military forces that are advised by retired military officials responsible for the disappearances of people during decade of the 80's in Honduras; • Respect for the human rights of all citizens, the suspension of the curfew and the full restitution of individual protections;
• The cessation of all threats of war, promoted by the de facto regime, which are creating a climate of terror among the Honduran population;
• The presence of international human rights observers in the country, to gather testimonies and verify human rights violations during the de facto regime and to monitor the process of return to the rule of law;
• The suspension of all technical or financial bilateral or multilateral aid being currently provided to the de facto regime; • Condemnation of the appointment of Ms. María Martha Díaz Velásquez, named by the de facto regime as Minister of the National Institute of Women (INAM). Also Ms. María Antonieta Bustamante, representative of Honduras before the Inter-American Commission of Women, who met the Feminists in Resistance with riot police when we demanded that they vacate the building of the INAM, which is OUR INSTITUTE.
• The immediate removal of all those involved in the de facto regime from the public offices they have taken and the application of sanctions against the coup leaders.

“Democracy is a global feminist and a woman's agenda," said Lisa Veneklasen, director of JASS, Washington, DC. "For women in the Americas, democracy is a life and death issue as they struggle against impunity, the dismantling of secular states, and unchecked violence. Giving a pass to the coup and its leaders sends a message to the powerful interests operating behind the scenes throughout the region that an overthrow is an acceptable political move.”

For more information, please contact Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 415-235-6517 or Lisa Veneklasen, Just Associates (JASS) director, 202-232-1211.