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Local campaign to free Honduran political prisoner gets international backing

Amnesty Canada gets involved in the crusade to free Edwin Espinal, a Honduran with family connections in Elmvale.

Amnesty Canada and Amnesty International have stepped in to call for justice for Edwin Espinal, the Honduran political prisoner with family in Elmvale, Ontario.

The Amnesty Canada website now has an e-petition directed to the Attorney General of Honduras, Oscar Chinchilla, calling for the release of Edwin Espinal pending a fair trial and demanding impartial justice for everyone arrested during election protests.

Espinal is the partner of Karen Spring, whose family hails from Emlvale. Spring has been living and working in Honduras for a human rights organization based in Tegucigalpa. Spring and her mother, Janet, recently travelled to Honduras with a delegation to push the government to release Espinal. They were also permitted to visit Espinal in the military-run prison called La Tolva where Espinal has been held since January.

Espinal was arrested during a violent and deadly crackdown on protests following a fraudulent election in Honduras. Protesters turned out by the thousands and were met with violence from Honduran military and police.

Amnesty International reports Espinal is being held in “dire prison conditions putting his physical and psychological health at serious risk.”

In a June 2018 report released by Amnesty called Protest Prohibited, the organization provides details of Espinal’s arrest and imprisonment, as well as the arrest and imprisonment of Jhony Salgado and Raul Alvarez. All three were political prisoners arrested in the aftermath of the protests and held under inhumane circumstances without trial. The report further details overcrowding and unfair treatment of those being held in Honduran military prisons. 

Fuentes has since been released, but the case against him continues.

Both Espinal and Ordonez were put into isolation cells for 10 and 13 days, according to the Protest Prohibited report.

Amnesty officials were able to interview Espinal for the report.

“I don’t know why they put me [in isolation],” Espinal told Amnesty. “I almost went crazy during those days. I didn’t see anyone. I was completely isolated.”

In Ontario, Janet Spring is encouraged to see Amnesty Canada and International take up the torch for Honduran political prisoners, and especially Espinal.

“It’s absolutely huge to get that support,” said Spring.

She has recently returned from a delegation trip to Honduras, and since she’s been back she has travelled to Ottawa to speak with parliamentary secretaries, MP Elizabeth May and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister.  

Karen Spring is back in Honduras for now but returns to Canada on Thursday. Janet, Karen, the Canadian delegation to Honduras, and the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor group are hosting a potluck community meeting on Sunday, June 24 at 5 p.m. at St. John’s United Church in Elmvale where they will be presenting the results of their trip to Honduras and subsequent work in Ottawa.

The group is planning another delegation to Honduras in August.


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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