Updates: Erick Martinez

WE DID IT!

With help from many dedicated supporters, we were able to raise enough money to aid Erick in increasing his security and support the work he is doing for human rights! We cannot thank you all enough for the support and encouragement you have given to make Erick’s and our work possible. If you would like to continue to see work like this get accomplished, please take a moment and contribute to the Honduran Equality Fund Here.

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Translations by Charlie Hinton

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2013  


I will comment, in respect to actions following up on the raid, I now know that an investigation has been made by the Secretary of Security, but the National Police still haven’t given me the security measures they promised. 
On a personal level I have to avoid exposure, virtually I just go from home to work and back, and take some basic steps in my house so that my family is not exposed, but to be honest the situation becomes uncomfortable for me, for example : When I leave my house, I do not know if i’m being followed or watched. I have not been able to fix my car, which makes me wonder at what point they’ll get into it again. The other thing is i don’t know who is around me me – if I go to a public place who will pull a gun and try to kill me. I feel a general level of personal insecurity, and this is something I cannot overcome. I still can’t sleep, and i can’t concentrate on my job. 

I hope this passes quickly and i can get back to my “normal” life, but I know that will not happen. 

This is what I can tell you. 

Greetings and thanks for your support,

Erick Martinez

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013

I want to thank the outpouring of support they have given through their letters. I read the email from Nathan and mentions what is true, I will discuss that in my country is a factor impunity prevails as the legal and notes well have had opportunities for coordination with the Ambassador and his representatives to address the extent of possible aggression suffered by the LGBT community in Honduras.

As for my case I have been visited by a representative of the Human Rights Commissioner, to give my testimony, also on Wednesday January 23 was present in my office the General Juan Carlos Bonilla, director of the National Police, who expressed serious concerns about the incident and apologized on behalf of the men and women of the police, I want to mention that Mr. Bonilla manages a good speech of respect for human rights, but I also know that if it were not for the different letters and pressure U.S. Embassy, these actions would not happen, because my country is not part of the agenda to respect the LGBT community, let alone the police, have historically been the major violators of human rights.

I will comment further that the Secretary of Homeland Security have equal knowledge of the case and that the prosecution through the Human Rights Attorney.

All agencies are committed to working on a report about what happened, we are still waiting for them.

Personally I’m trying to take the necessary security measures, one of our reality is that we have many incidents where police have been responsible for murders of citizens, according to the violence observatory in 2012, 149 murders were attributed and it is worrying to take any action against me.

No more I say goodbye to you greatly thanking their solidarity and support, the community really appreciates me.

Erick Martinez

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THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2013

Dear Friends,

I want to appreciate your solidarity and words of concern about me.

I will be very honest, I have not received threats, my concern has been around my home because I do not have adequate security conditions there. I also haven’t slept for 10 days because of the tension generated by this occurrence.

Regarding that incident I will say that the Director General of Police Mr. Juan Carlos Bonilla along with the Commissioner Ivan Mejia, contacted me and we had a meeting yesterday, in which we talked about what happened. Among the commitments that were made:

1. They will give me protection measures (patrols at my house, a person assigned for me to communicate with in an emergency)

2. An objective investigation of what happened.

3. Assess the responsibilities of those involved in violations of my rights.

4. Take action to ensure implementation of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

5. Work on a convention or agreement to regulate actions of the police. This approach may be subject to a series of meetings, through which one person in a center of detention is assigned to be the liaison with human rights advocates / s or organizations.

Director Bonilla behaved well, expressed apologies on behalf of women and men of the Police, and recognizes that it is vital to take action to restore the image of the institution. Many people within the police do not want to follow that institutional vision, so it is important that groups like CIPRODEH support and advice so that changes in the police force prevail.

I will comment that the Director speaks well and I’ll be waiting for strong action to regulate this action primarily to the LGBT community.

As for the Ministry of Security, the previous Thursday we held a meeting with the Deputy Minister Marcela Castañeda, the lawyer Kelvin Aguirre (Human Rights Unit of the Ministry of Security) and Attorney Seaman Rosa (Human Rights Prosecutor), where we delivered documentation about my case and that of Attorney Leonel Casco, another human rights defender who was captured illegally when exercising his advocacy on January 16.

We spoke about the insecurity facing a defender trying to do their job and not having the guarantees that would empower us to it, given the obstacles in the police system. They pledged to put in place protective measures, and conduct an investigative report that allows the assessment of responsibilities.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has established communication with me, and have requested a meeting to establish protection mechanisms, which will take place tomorrow.

This is a quick summary of what has happened. I’m living in fear, because these actions can have consequences. I’m thinking of leaving the country for a few days to lower my profile, obviously my concern is for my family, now that I have spent more time in CIPRODEH, which to some extent keeps me safe.

I say goodbye with appreciation for your expressions of concern, and with thanks to all the people who wrote (so far around 53 letters of solidarity have been recorded.)

I’ll keep you updated.

Erick Martinez
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MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2013

Letter from State Dept. official Nathan Anderson:
Dear Ms. Stiehler,
I appreciate your e-mail and want to assure you that the Embassy shares your concern about the police raid of Anubis and the ensuing violence.  I spoke to Erick Martinez and Jose “Pepe” Palacios of “Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia” (MDR) on the evening of January 12 at a reception at the Ambassador’s residence and was shocked to learn what happened later that night.  The Embassy has expressed its concern about the incident with the appropriate Honduran governmental institutions and has called for a thorough investigation of the event.  The Ambassador publically offered her concerns on her social media Twitter account.  It is our understanding that the National Police are working in conjunction with the Secretariat for Justice and Human Rights and National Ombudsman for Human Rights in this investigation.  As with all credible allegations of human rights violations, we will continue to monitor the investigation into this case working with Honduran government officials and civil society.
The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa is actively engaged with the LGBT rights community in Honduras.  The Ambassador regularly meets with members of the LGBT community and talks about LGBT rights as well as other human rights in both her public statements and in private meetings with high level government officials.
Beyond words, the Embassy has supported the development of human rights training that is now mandatory for all incoming police officers and encouraged the development of LGBT specific training that is now being implemented by the Secretariat of Security.  Additionally, the Embassy supports the Honduran Special Victims Unit (SVU) through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) program.  The SVU investigates and prosecutes cases of the murders of vulnerable groups including the LGBT community.  With the help of U.S. prosecutorial and investigative advisors, the SVU has arrested 19 people and won 2 convictions since its founding in 2011.  In the history of the Ministerio Publico (equivalent of the Attorney General’s office) there had previously been only 2 arrests of murderers of members of the LGBT community.  In a country where impunity is the norm, the SVU has become the most effective prosecutorial unit in the Honduran Public Ministry.  We are also encouraged by the regular meetings between leaders in the LGBT community and police and prosecutors, but acknowledge that much more needs to be done.
I want to thank you again for your e-mail.  Civil society plays a crucial role in the advancement of human rights.  If you are ever in Honduras, I would be available to meet to discuss this further.
Sincerely,
Nathan
Nathan Anderson
Human Rights & Labor Attaché
United States Embassy Tegucigalpa
(504) 2236-9320
THANK YOU to all who sent letters of support!
While this is a step in the right direction, it will take continued pressure
from people like you to ensure that real steps are taken to protect
the rights of the LGBTQIA community in Honduras!
 
Please read the following article by Michael Petrelis on the Petrelis Files and with photo credit to Erick Vidal Martinez:
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FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2013

Cops Apologize, Honduran Gay Bar Raid Fotos SurfaceA victory has been achieved by brave gay democracy leader Erick Vidal Martinez and the courageous LGBT community of Honduras. As I reported previously this week, on January 13 the National Police arrived at the Anubis bar in Tegucigalpa around 1:00 AM and conducted a raid.

After much pressure from gay and straight human rights defenders inside Honduras, and other parts of the world, Erick and the community received an apology and promises for change were made by government and police officials.

Let’s get to the photos and then the report. Please add this line when using the images: “Photo Credit: Erick Vidal Martinez”. Click the pix to enlarge.

Two uniformed officers of the National Police stood guard outside the Anubis, shortly after the raid started. The officer on the right is resting his arms on a rifle.

Another policeman inside the bar checked the identity cards of the LGBT patrons, wrote the names and additional personal information down on paper, while other officers smashed a few chairs and broke glass furnishings in the bathroom.

Questioning the LGBT patrons was conducted by more officers, seen wearing baseball caps on the left, foreground, and on the right, center. Everyone was made to sit or stand in one area.

After getting all the names, asking questions, causing damage to the furnishings and walls, and deciding who was to be taken into custody down at the National Police station house, everyone was outside.

The cops loaded up the arrestees in the back of a police pick up truck.

Three of the arrestees, moments before the truck drove away to the nearby National Police station house for Tegucigalpa.

Erick shares this message:

I thank everyone for their solidarity and words of concern about me.
 
Regarding the Anubis raid, Chief of Police Juan Carlos Bonilla along with the Deputy Police Commissioner Ivan Mejia, contacted me and we had a meeting this week. Among the commitments that they made:
 
1. Giving me personal protection measures (patrols to my house, a person assigned link for me to communicate in an emergency);
 
2. An objective investigation of the Anubis raid;
 
3. Determine which officers were responsible for violating our assembly rights during the raid;
 
4. Take action to ensure implementation of the Human Rights Ombudsman;
 
5. Develop an agreement with advocates regulating future actions of the police, such as assigning one officer to be liaison between arrestees and human rights groups.
 
Chief of Police Bonilla expressed apologies on behalf of women and men of the Police, recognizes that it is vital to take actions to restore the image of the institution and treats everyone fairly.


Muchas gracias, to all friends of mine and Honduran LGBTI people from other countries. We receive 53 letters of solidarity from foreigners and together we go forward.

 
 
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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013

Honduras Solidarity NetworkTake Action: Honduran LGBTQ Activist Erick Vidal Martinez Unlawfully Detained and AssaultedYour action needed further below.On Sunday January 13th, 2013, Honduran national police arrived at a gay bar around 1 am that is frequented by members of the Sexual Diversity Community in the colonia Loma del Guijarro of Tegucigalpa. Police ordered the bar to close early, well before the legal time limit for bar closings at 2:30am. Erick Martinez left the scene and returned later to document the incident. Erick witnessed and documented several detainees who were subject to police beatings, verbal humiliations, and intimidation because of their sexual orientation. A group of national police assaulted Erick Martinez and seized his cell phone that was documenting the police abuse. Erick and two others were arbitrarily and illegally arrested and taken to the police post in Barrio El Manchen of Tegucigalpa. During this time the contents of Erick’s phone were erased and his car searched and ransacked with items illegally confiscated. Erick was released by 3pm that afternoon thanks to the intervention of a lawyer from the human rights organization Erick works for, CIPRODEH.

The police said that the closing time for the bar was 10, but patrols had passed at 11 and not stopped. The identification of all the officers was covered by jackets, sweaters, and sweatshirts. When Erick left the bar, he cruised the main drag and saw that all the hetero bars were still open. He returned after receiving a phone call that people were being beaten up. He confronted the police and acted very bravely. He spoke in a way demanding the system work, when obviously it doesn’t and didn’t. He was arrested for interfering with police in the line of duty, and eventually placed in a tank with 63 straight men who taunted him but didn’t physically attack him.
 

Erick Vidal Martinez is a known human rights defender for LBGQTI rights in Honduras, a coordinating member of the Honduran Resistance Movement (FNRP) and an openly gay primary candidate for congress under the LIBRE party. Due to Erick’s work for human rights and the high number of attacks on members of the LBGQTI community in Honduras, Erick’s life is under high risk. Since the 2009 coup in Honduras there has been over 87 hate crimes and assassinations of members of the LBGQTI community and over 300 assassinations of members of the resistance movement.

In October of 2012 Erick Martinez traveled to California to receive a human rights award from the Federation of Gay Games and spoke with hundreds of university students and community members about mass human rights violations and impunity in Honduras. Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) sponsored a letter supporting Erick’s visit as well as a congressional Dear Colleague letter signed by 84 members of congress denouncing the human rights violations committed against members of the LBGQTI community in Honduras.

Please Take Action! International solidarity can greatly add to Erick’s safety and security. Please write to the U.S Embassy, Honduran National Police Chief, and officials for human rights in Honduras to denounce the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and members of the LBGQTI community. Demand the protection of the life of Erick Vidal Martinez and that the government of Honduras guarantee him protective measures.

Email the following offices and blind CC Erick Martinez. SAMPLE LETTERS FOLLOW IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH. Spanish preferred for the letters to Honduran officials but English letters also needed.

Honduran Offices
1. Ministro Seguridad Pompeyo Bonilla, pompeyobonilla@yahoo.com
2. Abogado German Enamorado, Fiscalía Derechos Humanos
derechoshumanos@yahoo.com,
3. CONADEH, Dr. Ramón Custodio, custodiolopez@conadeh.hn
4. Ministra Ana Pineda, Secretaria de Justicia y Derechos Humanos, apineda@sjdh.gob.hn , correo de asistente es iquintanilla@sjdh.gob.hn.

U.S offices:
1. Nathan Anderson, Human Rights and Labor Attaché. U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa. email: andersontn2@state.gov
2. Benjamin Gedan, Honduras Desk Officer-State Department,, email him at: GedanBN@state.gov. I received the following reply from Mr. Gedan: I will be away from my office from Friday, January 11 to Tuesday, January 22. For urgent Honduras issues, please contact Kelsey Cambronne at 202-647-3505.
3. Jane B. Zimmerman, Western Hemisphere Officer, Human Rights & Labor Bureau, U.S. State Department, Washington zimmermanjb@state.gov

Blind CC-
Erick Vidal Martinez- martinezerick21@gmail.com

SAMPLE LETTERS:  My subject line: In support of Erick Martinez
Dear ____

I’m writing to protest the unlawful detention and police assault on Erick Vidal Martinez the early morning of January 13, as well as the harassment and forced early closing of the bar Anubis in which he was present in Tegucigalpa. Erick is gay, and the club is frequented by people from the sexual diversity community.

Erick was held for more than 12 hours, his photos of the police abuse erased, and his car and personal effects ransacked, all for witnessing the humiliating and homophobic behavior of the police and defending the human rights of the bar patrons.

I ask that the Honduran police stop this arbitrary harassment of the LGBT community and that the government of Honduras offer protective measures for Erick so that no further harm comes to him as he works to defend the human rights of all Hondurans.

Sincerely yours,

__
My subject line: En apoyo a Erick Martinez

Estimado (Estimada for the woman) ____

Le escribo para protestar la detención ilegal y el asalto policial contra Erick Vidal Martínez en la madrugada del 13 de enero, así como el acoso y el obligado cierre temprano del bar Anubis, donde estuvo presente en Tegucigalpa. Erick es gay, y el club es frecuentado por gente de la comunidad de la diversidad sexual.

Erick fué detenido por más de 12 horas, sus fotos de los abusos de la policía borrados de su celular, y su auto saqueado y efectos personales robados, solo por presenciar el comportamiento humillante y homófoba de la policía y por defender los derechos humanos de los clientes del bar.

Pido que la policía hondureña terminen este acoso arbitrario de la comunidad LGTB y que el gobierno de Honduras ofrezca medidas de protección para Erick para que más daño no le viene mientras trabaja para defender los derechos humanos de todos los hondureños.

Atentamente,

____

Second option for letter to US officials:

Dear U.S. State Department Officials,

 
As an American deeply concerned with human rights and democracy in Honduras, I hereby request that you quickly issue a letter of protest and concern to the Honduran government regarding the January 13 raid on the LGBT bar Anubis in Tegucigalpa, and the unlawful detention and police assault on people present at the time of the raid.
 
Among the persons arrested and attacked was longtime gay leader and AIDS educator Erick Vidal Martinez.
 
He was held for more than 12 hours, his photos of the police abuse erased from his cell phone, and his car and personal effects ransacked, all for witnessing the humiliating and homophobic behavior of the police and defending the human rights of the bar patrons to peaceably assemble.
 
I ask that the U.S. State Department immediately and publicly call upon the Honduran police force to stop this arbitrary harassment of the LGBT community and beseech the government of Honduras to offer protective measures for Erick so that no further harm comes to him as he works to defend the human rights of all Hondurans. 
 
Please acknowledge receipt of this urgent request for action on the day you receive it.
 
Sincerely,
**Your name here**

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