Soad Ham, a 13-year-old student leader of the Central Institute of Tegucigalpa who participated in the student protests against the Honduran government in the last two weeks, was found tortured and killed inside a plastic bag Wednesday.
On Thursday, the opposition Libre Party called for protests against the assassination Ham and 3 other student leaders this week.
The largest public high schools in the country have been protesting against the decision to change the class schedule, which will mean that the students in the afternoon will leave their schools at 7 p.m. – a very dangerous hour for students to be on the streets of Latin America’s most dangerous city.
Public high schools are generally located in areas riddled with crime, and there is no public transportation services at those hours. Moreover, many students live in dangerous areas where organized crime has established curfew hours.
The decision was taken by Marlon Escoto, Education Minister, who argued that adding five minutes to each class would improve the quality of education in the country.
Students criticized the decision however, saying that in many class rooms there are not even enough chairs students.
The students, along with teachers and parents have been demanding changes to the education system and protests have often been met with repression from police. The murder of the students has moved other groups to become more active in the issue.
"We came here in solidarity with the families of the victims that have lost their lives in this student struggle and we want to denounce this ridiculous state that we have in Honduras,” said former President Manuel Zelaya, who is now coordinator of the Libre Party. “They are directly responsible for the existence of death squads, because they protect them with their silence, they protect them knowing they exist."
During the march, students denounced profiling by intelligence agents as one example of abuse of power from the authorities. One infiltrated police agent was discovered during the demonstration, but protesters were able to handle the situation without any aggression against the public official.
The protesters marched toward the Presidential House and demanding the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and Education Minister Escoto.
"This demonstration is in solidarity with the struggle of high school students and also condemning the selective assassination of four student leaders" said José Luis Herrera, a university student leader.
"We need reforms because we can see the problems of the education system and in everything else in the country, they are killing young people, a 13 years old girl and we can´t let violence become something normal," said another student leader, Diana Sabillon.
The high school students began this struggle independently, but now they have the support of the university students, of the National Resistance Front, the Libre Party and other organizations that have committed to continue their support until the government respects the rights of students.