January 14-18 marks the second international solidarity week of action to demand that terrorist charges against Salvadoran protestors be dropped. On July 2, 2007 fourteen people were arrested in Suchitoto, El Salvador for taking part in a protest against water privatization. Police brutality against the peaceful demonstration and the arrests of 14 of them produced international outrage, and ultimately this pressure forced the Salvadoran government to temporarily release the detainees. Nevertheless, protestors continue to be charged under the “anti-terrorism” law and could face up to 60 years in prison. This draconian law that criminalizes different forms of public protest as acts of terrorism is being used to silence the social movement in El Salvador, criminalizing acts that do not in any way
The prosecutors have until February 8, 2008 to present the case against the Suchitoto protesters. The trial was scheduled for the first week of October 2007 but was delayed for three months while the prosecutors build their terrorism case. However, it is obvious that the trial was delayed for lack of evidence, since those arrested were in the streets to voice their opinion against water privatization and for the international community to forget about the case.
In El Salvador different sectors continue to resist the anti-terrorism law, claiming that the way it is being employed, both against the social movement in general and against the 14 demonstrators in particular, represents a step back from the 1992 Peace Accords. A group of Salvadoran judges declared on September 2007 that the law is too confusing and, more importantly, declared that simple street protests are not acts of terrorism. Despite the repression against the Salvadoran social movement, people continue to organize against privatization and economic and political repression.
The United States government has a responsibility to speak out against the way the anti-terrorism law is targeting and criminalizing the social movement. However, the government has consistently supported the implementation of the law, while bolstering El Salvador’s repressive National Civil Police through the US-sponsored International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). Your action is critical in defending the right to organize, in solidarity with those who are struggling to keep water accessible and public in El Salvador (see below)! Community leaders and non-violent
protestors are not terrorists!
1. Call the State Department and demand that the United States government hold the Salvadoran government accountable for these acts. Contact Hillary Thompson at the U.S. State Department’s El Salvador desk at 202-647-4161. See below for sample script.
2. Call the Salvadoran Ambassador to the U.S. and demand that terrorist charges against the Suchitoto protestors are dropped. Contact Rene de Leon at 202-265-9671 in the Salvadoran Embassy
3. Donate to the Suchitoto 13 legal defense fund by going online athttps://chavez.mayfirst.org/cispes/
and writing suchitoto next to your donation.
Call Script for El Salvador Desk at the U.S. State Department
You can use the following script to talk to Mrs. Thompson. If at any point you get cut off, be sure to ask the final question will you call the ambassador and assure that he calls for the terrorism charges be dropped?”
1) I’m calling because I am very concerned about the July 2 arrests of the people protesting water privatization in Suchitoto, El Salvador.
2)The Salvadoran police violently captured community leaders shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at close range and local community members and is now charging them with terrorism.
3) The Salvadoran government’s disproportionate reaction raises serious concerns about human rights and the freedom of organization and expression.
4) The U.S. government has publicly supported the Salvadoran government, including supporting the passage of the anti-terrorism law last September.
5) It is extremely important that the U.S. stand up for human rights everywhere and not let protest be criminalized in the name of a so-called fight against terrorism.
6) Will you call Ambassador Rene de Leon and tell him to call for the terrorism charges to be dropped and the protestors to be freed?
The second international solidarity week of action is sponsored by Voices on the Border, US-El Salvador Sister Cities, SHARE Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today!, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
More background information about Suchitoto Arrests can be found at: