In 1981, I travelled to Honduras with a US Congressional fact-finding mission. I visited a Salvadoran refugee camp in Honduran territory. During my visit, an armed death squad of about thirty-five men marched across the border from El Salvador, entered the refugee camp and rounded up about 40 refugees, tied their thumbs behind their backs, and proceeded to take them back to El Salvador, with the Honduran army's blessing.
The relief workers and the member’s of our delegation decided to chase after them. We had no weapons -- only cameras. This was a time when the Salvadorian army and its death squads were killing approximately 500 people per month. We knew what fate awaited the hostages. We ran behind them for about 20 minutes along a riverbed, accompanied by the captives' families: mothers, wives, and children. During the chase, we screamed ‘we will denounce these atrocities to the world’.
As we approached the border, the fear that they were going to execute the refugees and us became more real. Finally, we came within earshot. They turned, pointed their M-16's, and yelled, in Spanish: "these sons of bitches have caught up with us!" We screamed back “you will have to kill us all!" There was a long silence. For some unbeknownst reason – perhaps, I believed, God protected us - they let the refugees and us go.
Monday, October 31, 2011
An act of courage by our @BiancaJagger Honduras 1981 Bearing witness makes a difference
I came across reports of an astonishing act of courage by human rights activist Bianca Jagger (@BiancaJagger and her colleagues, taking place in Honduras, in 1981. Here is her account of it, excerpted from her acceptance speech of the Right Livelihood Award in 2004: