ACTION ALERT: Free Honduran Political Prisoners

September 4th, 2019 - by Karen Spring and Solidarity Movement / CoFundMe

Karen Spring and her imprisoned husband, Honduran activist Edwin Espinal.

Bail Money to Free Honduran Political Prisoners!

Karen Spring and Solidarity Movement / CoFundMe

Hello, my name is Karen Spring and I am a human rights activist and the Honduras-based Coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN). I need your solidarity and help to free my husband and political prisoner Edwin Espinal and political prisoner Raúl Álvarez in Honduras. 

Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez are two Honduran political prisoners jailed in the maximum-security, military-run, ‘La Tolva’ prison for over 16 months. Edwin and Raúl have been targeted for protesting the 2017 electoral fraud in Honduras. 

Amnesty International Canada wrote about Edwin and Rául’s detention: “This injustice happened during a brutal crack-down as thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest alleged electoral fraud by the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez. Security forces shot at and beat protestors. Dozens were killed or badly injured. Others, like Edwin and Raul, were detained and denied their rights to due process. The crackdown was documented by Amnesty International in our report Protest Prohibited .”

In Edwin’s case, political repression is not new. Since the 2009 military coup d’état in Honduras, Edwin has been targeted and persecuted because of his vocal opposition to the human rights abuses committed by the state against him, his community members, the Honduran social movement, and us, his family. 

The conditions inside La Tolva prison where Edwin & Raul are being held are horrendous: 
** 2 hours of sunlight a month; 
** 3 hours of access to running water; 
** no communication with the outside world other than one day of restricted family visits per week
** no books, paper, notes, or pens
** Jailed with members of dangerous organized criminal groups
** No access to urgent medical attention.
** Jailed with individuals with untreated, active tuberculosis (TB)

I myself, have been strip-searched going into the prison despite passing through an airport-style body scan and having a physical pat down. Women that visit the prison are treated like criminals as a way to deter them and other family members from coming to visit. I call the La Tolva prison a torture center for the inmates, family members, and lawyers that visit the prison. 

We need to get them out of there! This is how you can help
In the next month or two, Edwin and Raul will have a bail hearing and we need to raise $20,000 USD to finance bail for them. Because they are being wrongfully and unjustly tried like they are members of an organized criminal group, their attorneys must offer a higher-than-usual bail, approximately $7,000 USD each.

In addition, Raul Alvarez has another charge against him, which also requires further bail money of approximately $2,000 USD. The rest of the funds will be used to cover legal costs for experts to testify in their trial and finance lawyers’ weekly trips to the jail to ensure that Edwin and Raul are still alive, and if they have any medical needs or safety concerns. Sending visitors to the jail is the only way we know they are alive and ok. 

Your support can make the difference!
If bail is not granted when the bail hearing comes up over the next two months, bail funds will be saved and presented again in 3 months. According to Honduran law, a bail hearing can be requested every 3 months but since August 2017, the Honduran government has maneuvered and stalled the case to prevent us from doing this. It is yet another example of the lack of due process and the on-going criminalization in Edwin and Raul’s case. The chance in the next month or two to request bail is a big and important one and we must to be ready with the money. 

Once Edwin and Raul appear for trial, the bail money will be returned.  When returned to the campaign, the money will be used for scholarships for Edwin, Raul and the 21 Honduran political prisoners, most of whom were conditionally released last year. Funds will be used in order to help them get their lives back in order, whether to support their families or re-open small businesses that they were forced to close as their families could not keep them up when they were sent to jail. The long-term economic, legal, and family impacts of criminalization and legal persecution continue to affect most of them. 

Why is it important to support Edwin and Raúl?
Since the 2009 coup, Edwin Espinal has become an important organizer within the Honduran social movement. From his neighborhood in Tegucigalpa to the student movement or his solidarity with Berta Cáceres and COPINH, Edwin’s vision and commitment has focused on the liberation of his people and Honduras.

Edwin has put his own life on the light to fight for the right of all Honduras to live with dignity and peace. Raúl has joined Edwin in this task and now you have the opportunity to stand in solidarity with them and by the side of those who resist day to day.

Your support not will only help Edwin and Raúl be conditionally released from prison. Their imprisonment has been used to generate fear and set an example for those that protest in Honduras. Supporting Edwin and Raúl is also standing in resistance and solidarity with their families and loved ones. Together, we are stronger. Their communities, their families, and the solidarity movement with Honduras need Edwin and Raúl to be freed.

Honduras is going through one of the worst political crises in its recent history. Hondurans are fleeing in migrant caravans, teachers and medical workers are protesting in the streets trying to stop the privatization of healthcare and education, and land defenders are being criminalized for protecting their rivers and forests.

The same system that keeps Edwin and Raul in prison is the same one that threatens, criminalizes, and murders social leaders, journalists, lawyers and land and environmental defenders. The system that seeks to silence dissent is the same one that has pushed hundreds of thousand of people to flee their country  in order to save their lives. Supporting Edwin and Raúl is to support one part of the Honduran movement for liberation and for life. 

Other than donating to this fund, there are so many ways people can help demand the release of political prisoners in Honduras: 
** Post a picture of yourself, your group or members of your community with a sign demanding freedom for political prisoners; 
** Send a letter to your elected official raising concern about their case and demanding that charges be dropped and all political prisoners released; and 
** Visit Free Edwin Espinal Libertad  website, Facebook: Free Edwin Espinal and Twitter: @EdwinLibertad  for more information, updates, and campaigns to continue demanding their release.
Thank you for your support! Please spread the word!