UPDATE 7/4/2011: According to blogger Hermano Juancito, an American missionary working in Honduras, "because of threats to his life...Padre Fausto Milla announced at Mass [yesterday] in the church of San Martín de Porres in Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, that he is fleeing the country."
Back in 2009, we ran an article about Fr. Fausto Milla, affectionately nicknamed the "Cardinal of the Honduran poor". Last week, Fr. Fausto gave a press conference in which he denounced that he, as a member of the Commission of Truth, and his assistant Denia Mejia, had received death threats. This translation comes courtesy of the Honduras Human Rights blog and is available in its original Spanish at Defensores en línea.
Fr. Milla explained that he has received death threats by phone which ceased when he placed a caller identification feature on his phone. In a press conference on Tuesday, June 28th, the Commission of Truth denounced the threats against one of its Commissioners, Fr. Fausto Milla and his assistant, Denia Mejía.
Commissioners Craig Scott, from Canada, and Luís Carlos Nieto, from Spain, arrived in the country to accompany Fr. Milla and were present for the press conference along with Carlos H. Reyes, President of the Union of Beverage Workers, STIBYS, and the Coordinator of COFADEH, Bertha Oliva.
Nieto stated that they were participating as an act of solidarity with Fr. Fausto Milla and that there have been various cases in which staff of the Commission of Truth has been affected by acts of intimidation.
He called for full and emphatic respect for human rights. It is our understanding that guaranteeing the freedom and security of those who are threatened is an obligation of the State of Honduras.
This demonstrates what should not be occurring in Honduras. Pressures continue for those who defend human rights in Honduras and we are very concerned for their security.
The attacks against members of the Commission are considered to be directly related to obstructing the presentation of the report which the Commission of Truth will present in October.
Milla explained that he has received threats by telephone which stopped after he placed a caller identification device his phone. These calls were death threats, referring to him as the boss of Denia Mejía.
He denounced assaults on the home of his assistant which was searched and left in disarray and only a computer was taken.
During the last several days, a white vehicle followed Mejía. She decided to take a taxi but continued to be followed. When she arrived at her home, the same vehicle was also there.
Several individuals also entered the health clinic that Fr. Milla runs, called Casa de Salud, opening the door and entering into the patients waiting room, asking many questions about the movements of Fr. Milla.
Bertha Oliva informed journalists and representatives of the media that COFADEH presented the denunciation to the Public Ministry.
Milla holds certain actors responsible
The Commissioner described his security situation as very serious requiring that he travel in hiding and change vehicles and drivers, but even with these measures the surveillance is extreme. A few days ago, a truck followed him as well as another staff person who works with him.
Bertha Oliva, Coordinator of COFADEH explained that the decision was made to make this case public because there have been repeated threats against Denia Mejía.
The case of Fr. Fausto concerns us because there is a difference in in how it is carried out; it is very clear that the intention is for him to know that he is being followed, “they go to his clinic, enter, are visible, and they let themselves be seen”.
She also denounced the serious issue that police carry out surveillance against Milla and his staff.
“We have seen how the members of the Commission of Truth have been attacked, such as the case of Eddy Guifarro, who was beaten with the intention to assassinate him. I have been informed that there is a campaign being conceived against several people, beginning with me, with the intention of undermining institutions; these are methods of eliminating those of us who defend life and are against the presence of military bases in Honduras” she added.
Oliva told journalists that COFADEH presented the denunciation to the Public Ministry and it will be presented to international organizations including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Carlos H. Reyes stated that the persecution comes from the coup regime: “this persecution and surveillance is the first step after which many Hondurans appear dead. This is why we condemn what is being done to Fr. Milla. The intention is not just to intimidate him but to make him feel persecuted so that he becomes paralyzed, but he will not stop. This happens in this country where the oligarchy responsible for the coup is whitewashed.”
Other attacks against members of the Commission of Truth
On March 30, 2011 – six men in civilian dress attempted to kidnap Eddy Guifarro who works for the Commission, from a taxi. However he was able to escape the attempted kidnapping.
The attempt occurred at 10:00 a.m, on March 30th, on the day that a nationwide civic strike had been called by the National Popular Resistance Front. When the taxi in which Eddy traveled stopped in the Colonia San José de la Vega, in Comayagüela, the individuals surrounded the vehicle, emerging from an area close to where a vehicle belonging to a mobile justice unit (Juzgados Móviles) was parked.
They attempted to take him from the taxi, beating his body and head with their guns however Eddy was able to escape, running through traffic with the armed men in hot pursuit, firing on him six times with no concern for the possibility of injuring people in the area.
COFADEH has registered attacks against other members of the Commission of Truth which have been denounced before the G-16 and other international bodies.