martes, julio 24, 2007

Toronto's Salvadorean-Canadian Community and Allies picket Salvadorean Consulate

Nota: El video muestra el inicio de la concentración frente al consulado, sin embargo durante el transcurso de la actividad la asistencia a la convocatoria aumentó considerablemente.

Thirty Torontonians set up a picket outside the Consulate General of El Salvador in Toronto on Tuesday, July 24 to protest the detention in El Salvador of thirteen protesters charged with “terrorism” by the Salvadorean police under a recently enacted, highly controversial, and unconstitutional “Anti-Terrorism” Law.

On July 2nd, the Salvadorean police attacked a 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 protest.

Demonstrators blocked the roads along which the members of the government and the diplomatic corps would approach the town. They were attacked by a National Civil Police (PNC) anti-riot squad. The police attacked the protestors around the police station, on the roads, and evenchased 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.

A local television channel broadcast images of the police action, which showed how the vehicle carrying Lorena Martínez, one of the organisers of the protest, was intercepted by the police and its driver violently removed and thrown onto the road, on the pretext that he had obstructed the passage of the police.

Photographer Luis Galdámez of the Reuters news agency, the only foreign correspondent present on the scene, saw several army vehicles with high-calibre machine guns. He was also beaten by police, although he told them he was a journalist and showed his press credentials.

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. Thirteen of those arrested have been charged under the new legislation enacted in the fall to attack social movement organizing - the so- called “anti-terrorism” law.

If the accused are found guilty, they could be liable to prison sentences of up to 60 years, according to the anti-terrorist law in force since October 2006.

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.

See photos and video from today’s picket.

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