Thursday, February 16, 2012

Honduran government exposed for human rights crimes & violations of international law in treatment of prisoners

The Honduran government stands exposed before the world for human rights crimes & violation of international law for the treatment of prisoners. The prison in Comayagua where 357 prisoners were burned to death was a chamber of horrors. This facility built for 500, housed over 800 prisoners in filthy, unsanitary conditions. Inmates with mental illness, as well as those with tuberculosis & other infectious diseases, were held among the general prison population. There was no medical or mental health care & each prisoner ate on less than $1 a day so they were severely malnourished. An inmate (probably mentally unbalanced by starvation & Gitmo conditions) started the fire by setting fire to a mattress. He had phoned the state governor screaming & warning he was going to burn the place down. Rescue crews claimed they rushed to the prison but the prison guards wouldn’t let them enter for 30 minutes saying the prisoners screams were just a prison break or a riot. When rescuers were allowed in, they could not find keys or guards to unlock the barracks. But this tissue of lies unravels since there is previous film documentation that when fires break out in Honduran prisons, guards will not open gates to release prisoners & prisoners have already burned to death. Comayagua prison is not the first time. It is only one of several prison fires in recent years, including a 2004 prison fire that burned 100 prisoners to death. An investigation needs to be demanded which would include why US military forces with search & rescue & fire squads on standby 15 minutes away were never dispatched. Over half of the inmates in Comayagua had not yet been convicted of any crime; they were awaiting trial or being held as “suspected gang members”. This is according to a report sent to the UN by the Honduran government. That same report said people can be incarcerated for wearing a simple tattoo which the police regard as a gang insignia. One can well understand why the relatives in this photo are pelting rocks at the soldiers guarding the prison compound. (Photo by Orlando Sierra)

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