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Home About Us Equipo Sur Stories of Honduras Honoring Isy Obed Murillo, the first martyr of the Honduran resistance to the coup
Honoring Isy Obed Murillo, the first martyr of the Honduran resistance to the coup PDF Print E-mail

On the afternoon of Friday, July 5th, hundreds of Hondurans gathered to pay homage to Isy Obed Murillo outside the Tocontín airport where he was murdered by the Honduran military 4 years ago, when hundreds of thousands had gathered to demand the return of democratically elected President Mel Zelaya. It was just a week after SOA graduates had orchestrated a military coup against President Zelaya, forcibly removing him from the country.  People from all walks of life had converged on the Toncontín airport where Zelaya was attempting to return to Honduras.  But the military blocked Zelaya's plane from landing and fired live bullets into the crowd, one of which went into 19-year old Isy Obed's head. He died almost immediately, becoming the first martyr of the national resistance movement; too many more followed as the Honduran military and defacto government released a regime of terror and violence against the peaceful struggle of millions of Hondurans.

Four years later, the homages to Isy were characterized not by tears but by hope and continued struggle. On Friday outside the airport and then Saturday in the Carrizal neighborhood of Tegucigalpa where Isy Obed was attending school before he died, it was clear that many Hondurans hope this will be the last time they have to mark Isy Obed's murder under a post-coup regime that continues to murder young people. As Isy Obed's father, David Murillo, proclaimed, the Honduran resistance hopes to elect a new President and a new Congress this November, with candidates who are part of the new LIBRE political party that grew out of the resistance movement. LIBRE is dedicated to carrying out a national constituent assembly to re-found the country with the participation of all sectors of society. Then they hope there will finally be justice done for all the martyrs of the resistance, an end to the murders by the police, a functioning justice system, and so much more.

LIBRE youth and its Human Rights Secretariat organized Saturday's event in Carrizal, where they explained that Isy is one of more than 2,300 youth who have been killed in Honduras since the coup. Isy Obed's mother demanded justice not only for her son's murder but for all the youth murdered in Honduras. “I am not the only one crying. There are mothers in their homes crying. We need there to be justice so that there is peace in Honduras.” “They have been very hard on Honduras... We have not seen any justice, none. Everything is in impunity. They say we need to move on, we need to reconcile. I say NO. No forgetting, no pardon. I want to see justice for the murder of my son. I don't want there to be any more blood of Hondurans in the streets. But how will the murders stop if there is no justice? Without justice, they aren't afraid to keep murdering young people.... The blood of all the martyrs asks for justice.”

Indeed, four years after the murder of Isy Obed Murillo by the armed forces, witnessed by thousands of people who were also attacked by tear gas and flying bullets, there has been no justice. No justice in Isy's case nor for the majority of those murdered in the resistance protests or on the streets. To the contrary, those who demand accountability face persecution. As Isy Obed's father explained, “23 hours after I buried Isy, I was arrested leaving COFADEH (a human rights organization where he had denounced the murder of his son). I was put in prison. When I was in prison, they told me there was a price on my head.” Subsequently, helicopters flew so low over his house he could see police with guns watching him and they dropped fliers saying he would be killed like his son. David and his wife went into exile in Argentina for 7 months. “I was in exile, seeing what was happening in Honduras through Facebook, and I said, “They might kill me, but I'm going back to my country.” In 2012, this evangelical pastor and father was again persecuted as he continues to call for justice and is active in the National Popular Resistance Front and LIBRE.

Four years after the coup, the repression of those who speak out for a new Honduras has not let up. On June 25, 2013, just days before the mobilizations marking the 4 year anniversary of the coup, Silvia Aguiriano de Sarmiento, her sister, and bodyguard were murdered as they was driving back from a meeting at the LIBRE offices in Juticalpa, Olancho. Not only was Silvia a LIBRE activist, but she was the wife of a notable LIBRE leader and candidate, Ulises Sarmiento. According to reports, armed men with AK-47s and automatic rifles opened fire at her car when they were almost home. The day before, on June 24, 2013, journalist Aníbal Barrow was kidnapped as he was driving in San Pedro Sula. His car was found with blood on it but his whereabouts were unknown. The day before his disappearance, he is said to have declared his support of Xiomara Castro, LIBRE's Presidential candidate, and several LIBRE leaders have been guests on his TV program. 16 days after his disappearance, his body was found in a state of decomposition buried near a lake in an isolated area near Villanueva, Cortes.

Unfortunately, many fear the targeted murders and violence in Honduras will only get worse between now and the November elections, as LIBRE's Presidential candidate is leading in all the polls and enjoys widespread support. The ruling elite use violence, repression, and militarization to try to hold onto the power that they seized in the 2009 military coup. The military seems to be everywhere in Honduras. Indeed, opposite the crowds gathered to remember the day when young Isy Obed Murillo's life was suddenly ended by the armed forces' indiscriminate fire into masses of peaceful protestors, a contingent of soldiers with shields and automatic weapons stood at the ready while a helicopter circled above several times. It was a reminder to those present of the continuation of the military coup and the necessity to change the power structure in Honduras this November. As LIBRE flags waved, Isy Obed's father read the LIBRE vision statement to the crowd and said he was sure that following November's elections, Xiomara Castro would be the next President of Honduras. “We are all united in one vision for the transformation of our Honduras.”


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