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Approximately 16 people were arrested on the early morning of this Friday while they were carrying out a peaceful protest at Universidad Nacional Autónoma of Honduras, in Tegucigalpa, capital of the country, in defense of public education and to demand the release of several students prosecuted.
The arrest warrant against the demonstrators was issued for the crime of usurpation. A few students were injured while they were being detained. The total number of people arrested at the University is still unknown. According to information by the social movements of the country, they are at least ten, and some of the human rights defenders who tried to protect the demonstrators were also arrested.
One of the people detained is Yunior Alexander Oyuela, collaborator of Movimiento Madre Tierra - Friends of the Earth Honduras, a Public Administration student. "We demand a due process and the release of the students arrested, the end of criminalization of the social protest and the release of Yunior", said Mario Zavala, of Movimiento Madre Tierra in an interview with Real World Radio this Friday. "We demand the end of the repression by Universidad Nacional Autónoma and the State against the students who continue protesting against the privatizing model of the University", he added. The activist expressed huge concern over the situation of his colleague and the other students who were detained.
At the time of the interview, Zavala was at the center where the authorities were holding the people arrested. Some of them have been beaten, and are in cells; others are in other spaces, almost without any light and with high temperatures. They are expecting to be transferred to the courts. Some relatives of the students have not managed to see their sons and daughters yet, and Zavala highlighted the permanent harassment by the police there, who are not comfortable with the presence of the many people who came to support the students and demand their release.
The activist explained to Real World Radio that these new arrests can be placed in the context of the struggle that the students have been carrying out for over three months against the new wave of privatization of public education, with a law that persecutes public education and human rights defenders. With reference to this, Zavala said that the law is "in the hands of power" and specifically pointed to the dean of the University, Julieta Castellanos, and the State, for the persecution of students.
The member of Movimiento Madre Tierra highlighted that "the right to protest, enshrined as a human right, is not being respected", and that the number of students prosecuted, who come from popular, peasant sectors, amounts to 60 people. "In Honduras, the doctrine of security is the intensification of what happened in past years, during the cold decade", he stated. "The State sees citizens and human rights defenders as enemies, and this is how they are treated", he regretted.
Zavala demanded the freedom of the students arrested and called for "international solidarity", which is the only way "to end criminalization in Honduras".
Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC), a network of environmental organizations, of which Movimiento Madre Tierra - Friends of the Earth Honduras is a member, released an urgent action statement this Friday. They called on social movements and organizations from different parts of Latin America and the world to demand the release of Yunior Alexander Oyuela and the other students with letters to the Presidency of Honduras, the Prosecutor´s Office, the National Human Rights Commissioner and the embassies of Honduras in their respective countries. See: http://atalc.org/2017/09/08/accion-urgente-detenido-integrante-madre-tierra-honduras/
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