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Honduras - eyewitness interview

Don't try storming Brazil embassy, warns activist

Article published on the 2009-09-23 Latest update 2009-09-23 15:10 TU

Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, speaks on the phone inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa (Photo: Reuters)

Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, speaks on the phone inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa
(Photo: Reuters)

An assault on the Brazilian embassy in Honduras would be "suicidal" an activist inside has told RFI. As President Manuel Zelaya is holed up inside the building, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has demanded that he be reinstated at the head of the country.

"This embassy is surrounded by military and police forces who have armed themselves to the hilt," says Andres Conteris, who is inside the building with the deposed President.

Conteris is director of the Americas programme for Nonviolence International and worked as a human rights advocate in Honduras from 1994 to 1999.

Eyewitness: Andres Conteris of Nonviolence International

23/09/2009 by Daniel Finnan

He believes that the Honduran government, whose leaders toppled Zelaya earlier this year, could decide to storm the embassy but warns that such a move would outrage the rest of the world.

"They do have the force to do that," Contreris told RFI. "However they do not have the force to defend themselves against the world, which would see that as an act of terrorism against the sovereign government of Brazil."

Overnight security forces cleared Zelaya's supporters from in front of the building and cut off power and water.

 "Yesterday morning, nearly 24 hours ago … there was dancing in the streets in front of this embassy and thousands gathered outside and remained there all night long," says Conteris. At 5.30am he says there was "massive repression by police and military."

Demonstrators were badly beaten, with reports of up to three deaths, while teargas went into the embassy itself.

De facto President Roberto Micheletti has since said that he is ready to hold direct talks with Zelaya. But he added a conditon - that Zelaya accept elections to choose a new government at the end of November.

"What does Mr Micheletti, who is the coup regime leader here, mean by talks?" asks Conteris. "What we have seen in the last 88 days is absolute stalling on the part of the de facto group that he leads that has taken over violently in this country."

The two sides met for discussions in Costa Rica in July, Conteris points out.

"President Zelaya accepted all of the terms of that accord and Mr Micheletti and his coup regime rejected it," he says.