by Adrienne Pine
I came to COFADEH, Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras, on a routine visit at 10:30am today, wanting to check in on various human rights questions and found a frantic scene. Edwin Robelo Espinal, the widow of your resistance martyr Wendy Elizabeth Avila (see these two earlier posts) was in the offices, having just been released from a police station where he was tortured throughout the night following his arbitrary arrest. The above picture shows his eyes, still swollen from tear gas sprayed at them directly 12 hours ago, and which he had trouble opening for my picture. Here is what he told me (as scribbled in my notebook and transcribed as narrative here):
The police in my neighborhood, Colonia Flor del Campo, have always threatened and attacked me because they know I am with the resistance, and I am organizing with the resistance. They are the same police who killed Francisco Alvarado, one of the martyrs. Yesterday I was sitting in my car, they pulled up and without giving any reason dragged me out of the car by force, punching me and violently forcing me into the patrol car, where they continued to beat me. They sprayed pepper gas directly into my eyes, and I inhaled a lot of it too. It was all in my lung, and all over my face. My whole body hurt terribly. That was last night at 11pm.They took me to the neighborhood police station and kept me all night. This is only one of many times they have detained and tortured me. I begged them for medical assistance, which they refused me, and they laughed at me when I said I was in pain and needed help. They shocked me using a Taser gun on my back and on my stomach, and then they set off the Taser in my ears to intimidate me—the sound is terrifying.I was suffocating and at no point did they offer me medical assistance. They only let me go when Bertha Oliva (director of COFADEH) came around 9:30am to demand my release. Dina Meza had gone first, but they wouldn't release me to her, it was only when Bertha came that they let me go. They found out I was here because my family saw me get arrested and they contacted COFADEH.
After the quick interview, he spoke with Félix Molina, who had also arrived to get his story, and then they took him off to the hospital. The full story, also, with Dina, is that not only did the police not release Edwin to her; they detained her for seeking his release until Bertha showed up.