El Salvador – Peaceful Protesters remain as Terrorists

El Salvador – Peaceful Protesters remain as Terrorists

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John Ahni Schertow
July 22, 2007
 

After hearing the appeal presented by the defense team of the Suchitoto 13, activists who were arrested at the July 2 protest against water privatization in Suchitoto, El Salvador — the judges reiterated the charge that they committed acts of terrorism, and will be tried ‘accordingly.’

The big issue here, is that the charge of terrorism is completely absurd. The demonstration itself, led by the water workers union SETA, CRIPDES, and a number of other groups — was peaceful. Yes, they blocked the road leading to the city of Suchitoto, successfully preventing president Antonio Saca from making his announcement of a project that will decentralize—or rather privatize water systems, but there was no terrorist acts being committed. It’s a fact proved on video (see below) The police and special forces just pretty much appeared, and went on to brutally repress the protesters — many of whom began defending themselves. Is self-defense an act of terrorism?

At then end, on top of the 14 arrested and charged, 25 people had been shot with rubber bullets and an additional 18 were poisoned by tear gas; 2 were hospitalized, and an undetermined number were beaten.

Days after the arrests, the Human Rights Prosecutor in El Salvador stated that it was inappropriate to have charged the detained with terrorism; and the Salvadoran Ombudsman also said that, overall, this decision threatens to seriously undermine public rights like freedom of speech and the right to association, as if daring the return of El Salvador’s history of political oppression.

Amnesty International and numerous other groups have also publicly condemned these charges along with any assertion that the demonstrators were anything but peaceful.

Despite all this, and even after the Salvadoran judge dismissed all charges of “Public Disorder” and “Illicit Association,” the Suchitoto 13 still stand to be tried as Terrorists

If they are found guilty, they could be sentenced to up to 40 [actually 60] years in prison.

Video is in Spanish, but share-elsalvador.org has created an English translation of what’s said

Support the Suchitoto 13

Courtesy of El Salvador Solidarity. See this page for a sample letter…

Please send faxes and emails to:

1. Excelentísimo Sr. Elías Antonio Saca, Presidente de El Salvador:
Telephone (011- 503) 2248-9000.
Fax (011-503) 2243-9947.
Email at this website: http://www.casapres.gob.sv/prescartas.htm

2. Lic. Felix Garrid Safie, Fiscal General de la república de El Salvador (Attorney General of El Salvador)
Telephone (011-503) 2249-8412 / (011-503) 2249-8749
Fax (011-503) 2528-6096
E -mail: fgsafie@fgr.gob.sv

3. Dr. Agustín García Calderón,: Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia (President of the Supreme Court of El Salvador)
Telephone (011-503) 2231-8300, (011-503) 2271-8888.
Fax (011-503) 2271-8754
Secretary’s email : sandra_deolivares@csj.gob.sv

4. Charles L. Glazer, U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador
Telephone (011- 503) 2501-2999 or 011-503-2501-2003
Fax: (011-503) 2278-6020 (Consular department)
Web-Page: www.sansalvador.usembassy.gov
Email: GlazerCL@state.gov

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