Picket of Salvadorean Consulate in Toronto and Open Letter Signature Request
Take Action to Demand Immediate Release of 13 Salvadorean Political Prisoners
Join Members of Toronto’s Salvadorean-Canadian Community and its Allies in a Picket of the Salvadorean Consulate
(see below for contact information)
Torontonians with ties to El Salvador will set up a picket outside the Consulate General of El Salvador in Toronto (151 Bloor Street West) on Tuesday, 24 July, from 10AM to 12PM, in a demonstration not seen since the end of the 12-year Salvadorean civil war in 1992, 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.
On July 2 the Salvadorean police violently attacked a peaceful protest against water privatization and arrested 14 people. President Antonio Saca was scheduled to announce water “decentralization” – the first step in the privatization process – in the town of Suchitoto. A number of campesino, rural community organizations, women’s groups, and others organized a peaceful protest.
The police attacked the protestors around the police station, on the roads, and even chased people into rural communities. Police pulled four movement leaders out of a vehicle kilometres away from the protest and arrested them. They attacked other protestors with rubber bullets and tear gas. In total the police arrested 14 people; another 25 people were injured with rubber bullets, 18 suffered serious effects of tear gas, 2 were hospitalized, and an undetermined number were beaten by police officers. For more information, see attached article.
Thirteen of those arrested have been charged under the new repressive legislation enacted in the fall to attack social movement organizing –the so-called “anti-terrorism” law.
The social movement in El Salvador has organized a unified response to the police violence. Over 60 social movement organizations signed onto a powerful statement calling for the immediate release of those arrested and for the Salvadoran government to respect the constitution and therefore the freedom of speech and the right to protest. The social movement is calling on international solidarity demanding the release of the arrested protest participants and community leaders.
1. Have your organization sign on to the open letter below demanding the immediate release of the 13 political prisoners. Please send your signed letter to email@example.com.
2. Join us for the picket on Tuesday, 24 July, from 10AM to 12PM in front of the Salvadorean Consulate (151 Bloor Street West).
3. Educate yourself about the situation. Visit http://www.cispes.org/ for more information.
Your action is critical to helping defend the right to organize and to showing solidarity with those who are struggling to keep water accessible and public in El Salvador!
Please make your voice heard!
We are asking for organizations to sign on to the open letter below. Please send your signed open letter to firstname.lastname@example.org:
AN OPEN LETTER TO SALVADOREAN PRESIDENT ANTONIO SACA CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF THE SUCHITOTO 13 POLITICAL PRISONERS
Dear President Antonio Saca:
We the undersigned wish to express our grave concern about the recent actions of police repression carried out on 2 July against the rural population in the Municipality of Suchitoto, El Salvador, as well as the violent and arbitrary capture of community leaders.
The disproportionate police reaction against the population came in response to a non-violent protest against the privatization of water, a legitimate expression of social discontent toward policies that hurt the vast majority of the Salvadorean population. This type of repressive action gives evidence of the violation of human rights and threats to the freedom of organization and expression. Beatings, arrests, searches, persecution and helicopter fly-overs bring to memory the most difficult moments for the Salvadorean rural population during the past armed conflict, and we are alarmed by this step backwards in the process of building democracy that was proposed with the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords.
As well, we want to denounce the violent arrests of 14 people including community leaders and members of the non-governmental organization, CRIPDES, among them Marta Lorena Araujo, Rosa María Centeno, María Haydee Chicas (a journalist), and Manuel Antonio Rodríguez. It is also of extreme concern that the government has charged 13 of those arrested with “terrorism” under recently enacted “anti-terrorism” legislation. We ask that you ensure respect for their physical and moral integrity, have all charges dropped against them, and move to have them released immediately. Furthermore, we strongly urge you to strike down any “anti-terrorism” legislation used to silence peaceful protest guaranteed by the Salvadorean Constitution, the 1992 Peace Accords, and international human rights standards.
Finally, we want to express our solidarity with the rural communities of Suchitoto and with Salvadorean non-governmental organizations in their work for the social and economic development of the country, which we see as very important for the construction of lasting peace and democracy in El Salvador. Finally, we reject any direct or indirect allegations that try to link members of Salvadorean civil society with “terrorist” activities.
(your name, affiliation)