BY CHRIS KERR | October 1, 2012
Human rights concerns continue to rise in Honduras in the wake of the murder of Honduran human rights defender, Antonio Trejo Cabrera. Multiple UN Experts have denounced the killing, and Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Reporter stated, “It is imperative that the Government establishes a national protection programme for human rights defenders as soon as possible.”
Honduras has had a long, tense history of human rights abuses, and more than “10,000 complaints of human rights abuses by state security forces have been filed in the last three years, according to the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras.” (“US has Blinders on in Honduras“) Jesuit Fr. Ismael Moreno Coto, known as Padre Melo, has been at the forefront of bringing these issues to light through his independent radio station, Radio Progreso, and has seen the consequences. According to the Los Angeles Times:
“On July 25, Father Ismael Moreno Coto, the Jesuit director of the opposition station Radio Progreso, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress about media freedom in Honduras since the coup. He spoke eloquently of the repression and intimidation of independent critical voices, as well as the outright killings of journalists. A week and a half later, police entered the station and harassed the staff, accusing it of “harboring” campesinos.”
This is nothing new for Padre Melo. According to National Catholic Reporter, in 2010 Padre Melo went into hiding due to fears from multiple death threats related to his speaking out for justice.
Human rights groups such as Latin American Working Group, a collaborator with the Jesuit Conference, continue to monitor the situation, and you may read their recent report on the recent murder of Trejo here.
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.