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Honduran Mennonites call for dialogue after coup

Tim Shenk
July 15, 2009

AKRON, Pa. — The Honduran Evangelical Mennonite Church is calling for peaceful dialogue and respect for human rights in Honduras in the wake of the June 28 coup that deposed President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales.

In a July 6 statement in Diario La Prensa, the nation's largest-circulation newspaper, the church noted that the coup and the continuing political crisis have polarized Honduran society and have created a climate of violence and insecurity. The statement called upon Christians, government officials and society at large to resolve the crisis peacefully through dialogue, with respect for the rights and dignity of all Hondurans.

The Honduran Evangelical Mennonite Church has about 9,000 members, and it works in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in projects related to education, public health, the rehabilitation of former gang members and other needs.

Pastor Adelid Romero, secretary of the steering committee of the Honduran Evangelical Mennonite Church, said in a phone interview that the statement took a conciliatory position on a critical issue. In recent days, crowds have demonstrated for and against the deposed president on the streets of the capital, Tegucigalpa, and other cities, and several protesters have reportedly been shot and killed by police. The government has imposed a curfew at night and is manipulating information on television.

"People are polarized," Romero said.

The statement calls on Christians "to not further promote the polarization of the Honduran family, but rather to forge paths that will lead to peace ... ." It also calls on the government to respect the rights of Hondurans, including the right to information and freedom of movement, and to respect the rights of the deposed president, who has been forced to remain outside the country.

Romero added that the political crisis has created fear and uncertainty about the future of the economy in Honduras, which is one of the most impoverished nations in Central America.

He said that the church asks the international community to support a peaceful and just resolution to the crisis, and he called on Mennonites in Canada and the U.S. to pray for mediation efforts that are taking place in Costa Rica.

The text of the church's statement is available online at mcc.org/honduras.

 Read statement

Tim Shenk is a writer for Mennonite Central Committee.