BY ISN STAFF | June 30, 2019
Amid a growing political crisis in Honduras, Jesuits in the Central American country and the United States have issued statements calling for an end to the government’s use of force that has perpetuated human rights abuses throughout the country.In a statement issued on June 26 by the Jesuit communities and works in Honduras, they cited the deteriorating human rights and rule of law situation. The statement denounced the dangerous reality for those publicly demonstrating against the government and offered solidarity with the families of four Hondurans killed by national police during recent protests related to government attempts to privatize healthcare and education. They also denounced attempts by the government to discredit defenders of human and environmental rights, including Jesuit Father Ismael Moreno, S.J. (known popularly as Padre Melo). The Jesuits closed their statement with sentiments of support for the statement of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras (Honduran Conference of Catholic Bishops), which recently issued a public letter regarding the unrest and government repression.
The efforts to disparage Fr. Moreno are not new. In December 2017, a flyer circulated on Honduran social media, falsely accusing him and eight other regional leaders of inciting violence and involvement in narcotics trafficking. Earlier that year, Fr. Moreno was falsely accused by a Honduran university president of promoting anarchy and generating violence among the school’s students. In both cases, the Jesuits and other church and human rights leaders defended Fr. Moreno’s work and that of the Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús en Honduras (ERIC) and Radio Progreso, the two ministries in Honduras he directs.
In the U.S., the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology joined a number of non-governmental organizations in calling on the Honduran government to end excessive use of force, respect the rights of Hondurans to protest, defend freedom of the press, disband the country’s military police and ensure justice regarding human rights crimes committed by the government. The statement, issued on June 27 included Latin America Working Group, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America.