For immediate release
For immediate release
For the first time since the end of the Salvadorean civil war in 1992, Canadians picket El Salvador Consulate in Toronto
Residents of several Eastern Canadian cities picketed outside the Consulate General of El Salvador in Toronto in a show of solidarity with 13 members of the Salvadorean social movement charged with “terrorism” by the Salvadorean authorities.
Toronto, 25 July, 2007 – In a show of Canada-El Salvador solidarity not seen since the end of the Salvadorean civil war in 1992, Canadians from Toronto, London, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Montréal with ties to El Salvador came out in numbers yesterday to successfully picket outside the Consulate General of El Salvador in Toronto to protest the detention in El Salvador of 13 peaceful protesters charged with “terrorism” by the Salvadorean police under a recently enacted, highly controversial, and unconstitutional “Anti-Terrorism” Law. The picket received considerable coverage by local community and Spanish language media. The Toronto picket coincided with other pickets this week of Salvadorean Consulates and Embassies around the world. Click here to view a video of the picket. Click here for a video of a simultaneous picket in Ottawa.
Members of the GTA Salvadorean-Canadian community and non-governmental organizations in solidarity with El Salvador, including the Canada-El Salvador Action Network (CELSAN), called for the picket outside the Salvadorean Consulate out of grave concern for the increasing Salvadorean state repression of peaceful protest. The latest troubling example of this government intolerance for dissent occurred on 2 July in the town of Suchitoto where Salvadorean riot squad police, supported by the Armed Forces, violently broke up a peaceful public demonstration against the Salvadorean government’s plans to privatize the public water system.
Fourteen people were arrested and several more were injured during the police assault. Of those arrested, 13 have been charged with ‘terrorism’. Some of those detained reported threats by police of being thrown out of a helicopter during their aerial transfer to police headquarters. Police repression of peaceful protest such as this, especially when supported by the Armed Forces, harkens back to the brutal state terror of the 1980s in El Salvador. Many local Salvadorean-Canadians, who came to Canada fleeing state terror, are gravely concerned over this recent development in their country of birth.
The picket yesterday in Toronto included a delegation that presented the Consulate staff with over 400 letters and petitions signed by Canadians demanding the immediate release of the 13 peaceful protesters.
“We relayed to the Consulate staff that the use of so-called ‘Anti-Terrorist’ legislation to silence peaceful protest in El Salvador will not be tolerated by Salvadoreans, Canadians, and indeed, anyone who cherishes human rights,” said Carlos Bucio, a CELSAN representative, upon returning from the delegation to greet the picketers.
The 13 peaceful protesters were charged with ‘terrorism’ under a recently legislated highly controversial and unconstitutional “Anti-Terror” Law. Critics of the law, including Amnesty International, fear that it is being used to curb peaceful and lawful dissent guaranteed by the Salvadorean Constitution, the 1992 Peace Accords, and international human rights standards.
“How can peacefully protesting the privatization of a basic service such as water be deemed ‘terrorism’?” asked Alfredo Marroquin, the president of the Canadian non-profit organization, SalvAide, which began collecting signed urgent appeal letters very shortly after the arrests on 2 July and presented the Vice-Consulate with a petition letter signed by 34 Canadian organizations and institutions demanding the immediate release of the 13 peaceful protesters. SalvAide has a long working relationship with CRIPDES, the Salvadorean rural development organization to which several of the arrested peaceful protesters belong.
All of the members of Salvadorean-Canadian community and its allies present at today’s picket have committed to continue their urgent appeal campaigns until all the detained political prisoners are released and all charges against them are dropped.
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