The interim Honduran government has lifted an emergency decree that prohibited protest marches and limited other civil liberties, clearing the way for possible new demonstrations over the political standoff in the country.
Supporters of ousted president Manuel Zelaya were expected to march yesterday in the capital, a day before an Organization of American States summit of regional foreign ministers was due to arrive for talks aimed at ending the impasse over control of the government.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti said on Monday that the decree, which resulted in dozens of arrests and the closing of two pro-Zelaya media outlets, “has been completely revoked,” but Zelaya expressed doubts.
“Let’s see if they free the campesinos and end the oppression of the people, or if this is one more trick,” Zelaya, who is holed up in the Brazilian embassy with dozens of supporters, told the Venezuela-based TV network Telesur.
Micheletti did not say whether the lifting of the decree would take effect immediately. He had said in a morning television interview that it was to be formally repealed yesterday when the new order was published in the government’s official gazette.
Honduras’ interim leaders issued the emergency order on Sept. 27 in response to “calls for insurrection” by Zelaya as the ousted president sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy after sneaking back into the country.
The decree empowered police and soldiers to break up public meetings, arrest people without warrants and restrict the news media, with armed troops stationed throughout the capital to enforce the order.
It drew criticism even from judges and congressional leaders who backed Zelaya’s ouster in a June 28 military-backed coup that was condemned by much of the rest of the world, including the US and the UN. Many complained the decree would disrupt campaigning for next month’s presidential election they hope will resolve the crisis.
Human rights groups have complained of unjustified arrests and the persecution of peaceful protesters, but Micheletti defended the measure to reporters as a legitimate response to an organized campaign against the government “led” by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The interim Honduran leader said the step was taken because they had learned that more burnings of vehicles and businesses were planned and “we weren’t going to allow it.”
The main effect of the order was to close down the two main pro-Zelaya media outlets, Radio Globo and Channel 36, and it was used to block protest marches for several days. Zelaya supporters eventually ventured out to demonstrate, but in much smaller numbers than before.
While the decree was in force, the government also retook control of a government Agrarian Institute building that had been occupied by protesters. They detained about 55 people and lodged sedition charges against 38, who were still in custody over the weekend.
Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said about 1,000 people were detained for violating a curfew that was imposed before the decree.
Radio Globo has been broadcasting over the Internet. The station’s owner, Alejandro Villatoro, said authorities seized his station’s equipment and he did not know when it would be able to resume normal operations.
Asked if the stations could now broadcast, Micheletti said they “will have to come to the courts to recover their right to be on the air.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday