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Latin America Scholars Urge Human Rights Watch to Speak Up on Honduras Coup

On Friday nearly 100 Latin America scholars and experts sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch urging HRW to speak up about human rights violations in Honduras under the coup regime and to conduct its own investigation of these abuses. The letters' signers include Honduras experts Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, Latin America experts Eric Hershberg, John Womack, and Greg Grandin, and noted authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein.

The Latin America experts note that if Human Rights Watch took action to shine its spotlight on these abuses, it would be more likely that the Obama Administration would put greater pressure on the coup regime to end these abuses and restore democracy. Such pressure would likely be decisive. The experts argue that "the coup could easily be overturned," if the Obama administration took more decisive measures, "such as canceling all U.S. visas and freezing U.S. bank accounts of leaders of the coup regime" - as Rep. Grijalva and 15 other Members of Congress called for on August 11. A recent New York Times editorial urged the Obama Administration to exert more pressure on the coup regime if it refuses to accept a compromise for President Zelaya's return.

Human Rights Watch has not issued a statement or release on the situation in Honduras since July 8, a little over a week after the coup.

JFP News, 8/20: Low Turnout in Afghan Election

Just Foreign Policy News
August 20, 2009


Demand, from the Senate, an Exit Strategy from Afghanistan
The Afghan people are tired of war. Recent polls show Americans agree. But our leaders are not yet tired of war in Afghanistan. The Senate has not yet even debated whether the Pentagon should publish an exit strategy. Urge them to do so.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan
Background: By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?
Why we need a Senate debate.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/300

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) A top Afghan election official said he thinks 40 to 50 percent of the country's 15 million registered voters cast ballots in Afghanistan's presidential election - a turnout that would be far lower than the 70 percent who cast ballots for president in 2004, AP reports.

2) Iran has lifted a yearlong ban and allowed U.N. inspectors to visit the nearly completed Arak nuclear reactor as well as granting greater monitoring rights at the Natanz uranium enrichment site, George Jahn reports for AP. The IAEA had been seeking additional cameras and inspections of the Natanz site, to keep track with the rapidly expanding enrichment program.

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By How Many Days Can We Shorten This War?

Recently I watched the 2007 Lebanese film "Under the Bombs." The movie tells the story of the U.S.-supported Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, wrapping the historical events inside a fictional narrative. Watching the movie reminded me of Just Foreign Policy's efforts with Jewish Voice for Peace and others to stop that war.

At the time, it seemed clear that the war could not go on indefinitely; the international community would not allow it. But how long would it be allowed to go on? If we could shorten it by one day, innocent civilians would live and not die. The 34-day conflict resulted in 1,191 deaths, the UN Human Rights Council reported. Using this figure, on average, each day of the war killed 35 more people; each day we shortened it saved 35 lives.

Today Afghanistan is holding the first round of its presidential election. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear from the campaign: the majority of Afghans are sick and tired of war. "There is broad agreement the war must end," reports Carlotta Gall in the New York Times. There is broad support in Afghanistan for negotiations with insurgents to end the war. The debate inside Afghanistan is on what process negotiations should follow, and whether the Afghan government is really following through on its stated commitment to negotiations.

JFP News 8/19: Amnesty International: Honduras Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence

Just Foreign Policy News
August 19, 2009


Amnesty International: Honduras Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence
There has been very little attention in the U.S. press to repression in Honduras under the coup regime. Hopefully, that will now change: Amnesty International issued a report today documenting "serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters" in Honduras, warning that "beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition" to the coup.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/298

Urge the Miami Herald and McClatchy to Report on Amnesty's Charges
No word yet from the Miami Herald or McClatchy on the Amnesty International report, although it has been reported by CNN, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and AP. Send the Herald and McClatchy a note.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/herald

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U.S./Top News

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Amnesty: Honduras Photos and Protestor Testimonies Show Extent of Police Violence

There has been very little attention in the U.S. press to repression in Honduras under the coup regime. Hopefully, that will now change: Amnesty International issued a report today documenting "serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters" in Honduras, warning that "beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition" to the coup.

An Amnesty International delegation interviewed people who were detained after police and military broke up a peaceful demonstration July 30. Most detainees had injuries as a consequence of police beatings.

Esther Major, Central America researcher at Amnesty International, said:

"Detention and ill treatment of protestors are being employed as forms of punishment for those openly opposing the de facto government, and also as a deterrent for those contemplating taking to the streets to peacefully show their discontent with the political turmoil the country is experiencing."

U.S. media often rely heavily on international human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to report on human rights abuses. So it will be interesting to see how much U.S. press coverage the Amnesty report gets.

If the repression under the coup regime were more widely known, it would be much more difficult for representatives of that regime to peddle their story in Washington that their government is "democratic" and "respects the rule of law." How is the coup's hired gun Lanny Davis going to spin Amnesty's report on police repression of peaceful dissent against the coup?

JFP News, 8/18: Talks with Taliban Top Issue in Afghan Election

Just Foreign Policy News
August 18, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Whether and how to negotiate peace with the Taliban has become a top issue in the Afghan presidential election, Carlotta Gall reports in the New York Times. There is broad agreement the war must end; debate swirls around whether the government is moving effectively toward persuading the Taliban to end their insurgency. Each of Karzai's three main opponents is critical of his record in following through on promises to pursue negotiations. But the US and NATO want to negotiate from a position of strength, diplomats and military officials said. "Reconciliation is important, but not now," said one Western diplomat.

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JFP News 8/14: Brazil Urges Greater U.S. Effort to Restore President Zelaya

Just Foreign Policy News
August 14, 2009


16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The President of Brazil called on the U.S. to use more political influence to help solve the Honduran crisis, Mercopress reports. President Lula reaffirmed support for President Zelaya's "immediate and unconditional" return to Honduras. Lula promised to talk to President Obama about the issue at "an appropriate time." Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim said Zelaya's return would largely depend on the position of the U.S. "Lula said that clearly: we are concerned by the delay, because as time passes, the chances for President Zelaya's legitimate elections calendar is weakening" Amorim said. Amorim insisted it all depends on "how the United States will act; it must be a multilateral action. We believe that actions should be conducted by the OAS."

2) The Center for International Policy reports on accounts of repression of protests in Honduras. Hundreds of people have been arrested, beaten, and many are wounded, according to reports from different human rights organizations. Congressman Marvin Ponce was shot; the president of the Soft Drinks Industry Workers' Union had part of his ear pulled off and his arm was broken.

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JFP News 8/13: Religious Leaders Urge Clinton to Suspend Colombia Base Talks

Just Foreign Policy News
August 13, 2009


16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Over a hundred religious, national, community organizations and leaders and academics called on Secretary of State Clinton to "suspend negotiations for expanded U.S. military access or operations in Colombia," the Fellowship of Reconciliation reports. "It is rational for regional leaders to see the installation of several U.S. military sites in Colombia as a potential threat to their security," the groups said, because of U.S. support for trans-border attacks from Colombia, a Pentagon statement that it seeks access for "contingency operations" in the region, and the history of U.S. military intervention in Latin America.

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JFP News 8/12: Iranian Opposition Intellectuals Oppose Economic Sanctions

Just Foreign Policy News
August 12, 2009


What Did a US-funded Poll Say About a Karzai First-Round Victory?
The British newspaper The Telegraph is claiming that a US funded poll indicates that Hamid Karzai will not win re-election as President of Afghanistan in the first round. The poll put Karzai at 36 per cent of the vote and Abdullah Abdullah at 20 per cent, the Telegraph says. But the Telegraph report is misleading. A Washington Post report of the same poll noted that Karzai led with 45 percent of the vote among decided voters - much closer to the 50% needed to avoid a run-off.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/293

Obama, You Do Have a Button to Reverse the Coup in Honduras
"I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Zelaya," Obama said. But Obama does have a button he has not pressed: canceling U.S. visas of coup leaders, as called for by 16 Democratic Members of Congress.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/291

Letter: 16 Members of Congress call on Obama to take further measures against Honduran coup regime
http://grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=13&sectiontree=5,13&itemid=413

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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What Did a US-funded Poll Say About a Karzai First-Round Victory?

The British newspaper The Telegraph is claiming that a US funded poll indicates that Hamid Karzai will not win re-election as President of Afghanistan in the first round. "Hamid Karzai 'will not' win Afghan election outright," the headline says. The Telegraph reports:

The US government-funded poll found that the president of Afghanistan led his rivals by a wide margin, but lacked the 50 per cent of the vote necessary to avoid a second round.

The poll put Mr Karzai on 36 per cent of the vote and his nearest rival, Dr Abdullah Abdullah on 20 per cent among registered voters.

A fifth of Afghans are still undecided or would not answer the survey, the poll by a Washington-based research firm reported.

...

Ramazan Bashardost, a former planning minister and anti-corruption minister, has seven per cent of the vote and Dr Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, former finance minister, has three per cent, the research by Glevum Associates found in the second week of July.

But here's how the Washington Post reported the same poll:

In a poll released Monday, Karzai led with 45 percent of the vote among decided voters, compared with 25 percent for Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister. The U.S.-government-funded poll by Glevum Associates, conducted July 8-19, had Ghani fourth, with 4 percent of the vote.