Friday, September 25, 2009

United Nations Deplores Honduran Military For Siege At Brazilian Embassy

Friday, September 25, 2009
21:39 Mecca time, 18:39 GMT

UN deplores Honduras embassy siege

Security forces and riot police are surrounding the Brazilian mission in Tegucigalpa

The UN Security Council has "condemned" the siege of the Brazilian embassy in Honduras by the military-backed interim government since Manuel Zelaya, the country's ousted president, took shelter there.

The council said on Friday the military-backed interim rulers of Honduras must ensure "the safety of individuals on [the embassy's] premises".

Brazil had called on the Security Council to take action to end the siege of its embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

Celso Amorim, the Brazilian foreign minister, earlier told an emergency council meeting that the embassy in Tegucigalpa was "virtually under siege".

"The Brazilian government is gravely concerned that the same people who perpetrated the coup d'etat in Honduras might threaten the inviolability of the embassy in order to forcefully arrest President Zelaya," he said.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, called on the Honduran government to "cease harassing the Brazilian mission".

Embassy surrounded

Hundreds of Honduran soldiers and riot police are surrounding the Brazilian embassy compound, where Zelaya is holed up with his family and about 40 supporters.

Local media reported on Friday that some people inside the embassy compound had been sickened by gas, Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez said.

"There were reports from the embassy that there was some kind of chemical in the air that had caused some of the people inside the embassy to start bleeding," she said from Tegucigalpa.

"The Red Cross came here to verify this but the army would not let them through. Then, the chief of police came here and denied that the military had thrown any kind of gas inside the building.

"We have spoken to someone inside the embassy compound who said that there was a minor gas leak."

Zelaya, who re-entered his country on Monday after three months in exile, said on Friday that that his supporters should come to Tegucigalpa to exert pressure on Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president.

"We urge the resistance to keep fighting until together the people and president achieve ... the fall of the usurpers," Zelaya said.

"We see no willingness on the part of the de facto government to reinstate the president."

Mediation effort

The deposed president said on Thursday that he had held talks with a member of the de facto government, but that little progress was made.

The de facto government on Thursday said they would accept a visit by Oscar Arias, the Coasta Rican president, and Juan Carlos Varela, Panama's vice-president, as part of a mediation effort.

The Honduran foreign ministry asked the Organisation of American States (OAS) to postpone its own mediation mission until talks with Arias had concluded.

The United States, the European Union and the OAS have each condemened the overthrow of Zelaya, which came after Zelaya attempted to hold a referendum on presidential term limits.

Micheletti says that Zelaya has to answer charges of violating the constitution through his move to hold a non-binding referendum without the assent of the Honduran courts and parliament.

Zelaya has said that the referendum was not aimed at winning support to extend his single term in power, and that it was part of a move to provide more representation to the poor.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Biscuits only in Honduras mission

Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya and his supporters have had to live on biscuits and are unable to wash, a Brazilian diplomat says.

Mr Zelaya has been holed up in Brazil's embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa since making a surprise return to his country on Monday.

About 50 people are believed to be with him, including family and supporters.

Diplomat Francisco Rezende Catunda told the BBC that the situation inside the embassy was "precarious".

"We have survived a few days eating biscuits, a very irregular diet," he told the BBC's Brazilian service, adding that the group had their first proper meal on Thursday.

"I wouldn't say that we are starving, but the situation is extremely precarious."

Mr Catunda said the people inside had no soap or towels and no changes of clothes.

He said the military, which is surrounding the building, had allowed only eight of the embassy's 12 staff to leave.

"Many of us have family obligations and need to leave, but are being prevented from doing so."

He said the troops were not respecting passes issued to people on the outside to allow access to the compound.

"They have not stated categorically that entry is forbidden, they just aren't responding to anything," he said.


The embassy building has been surrounded by police and troops since Mr Zelaya first appeared there on Monday, saying he had slipped back into Honduras on foot to restore democracy.

He had been in exile for nearly three months, after being driven from the country at gun point.

At least one person has died in protests around the embassy - Mr Zelaya's supporters put the figure at 10. A curfew order on Tegucigalpa was lifted on Thursday.

Mr Catunda said that in the early days, about 300 people were in the embassy with Mr Zelaya.

He said 50 or 60 people now remain, including Mr Zelaya's wife and other relatives, who are receiving food deliveries from the UN.

"It is a delicate situation," said Mr Catunda.

"We support Mr Zelaya, but we are unable to accommodate so many people."

Milton Benitez, a Zelaya supporter inside the embassy, said the deposed leader was sleeping on an inflatable mattress while many people were spending the nights on the floor.

"We are living in inhuman conditions," Mr Benitez told the AP news agency.

But he said Mr Zelaya had been encouraging everyone to "stay calm and be patient".

On Friday, Mr Zelaya and the interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, held informal talks in a bid to end the stand-off.

Mr Zelaya said the meeting was a positive first step, but the interim government has stressed the talks are not about returning him to power.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation in July, asking people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

His opponents said the move was unconstitutional and was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, so paving the way for Mr Zelaya's possible re-election. He has denied this.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/09/25 11:15:12 GMT

No comments: