Freedom for Violeta, Erlinda and other political prisoners!

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Freedom for Violeta, Erlinda and other Political Prisoners of El Salvador!

CISPES rejoices alongside the Committee of Family of Political Prisoners of El Salvador following news that Violeta Menjivar and Erlinda Handal would be moved from prison to house arrest. Both women have been imprisoned for the last ten months after being arrested in a process that has been widely denounced for legal errors and inconsistencies.

We also echo the call for justice for other former government officials from the FMLN party, who were arbitrarily arrested and still remain in prison. Like Menjivar and Handal, the families of those still detained claim they have suffered repeated violations of both human and constitutional rights, including the presumption of innocence, the right to due process, and the right to a fair trial.

In addition to the five detained former officials, there are dozens more political prisoners and people under direct threat of detention for political reasons, including arrests of social movement leaders during the first 60 days of the regime’s State of Emergency, the detention in 2021 of community leaders and environmentalists for defending the right to water - all within a constant context of constant and diverse forms of political persecution faced by activists, journalists and academics critical of the government.

The relatives of those detained have denounced a series of allegations on the part of the government, ranging from illicit enrichment to assumed ties to gangs, in order to detain their opponents, without presenting evidence and with blatant disregard for their constitutional rights.

Likewise, COFAPPES has denounced various irregularities in the legal process and violations of rights, especially in relation to the lack of evidence presented against those who have been detained as well as failure to provide medical attention to those suffering chronic illnesses, respectively.

As CISPES, we express our concern about the increase in actions on the part of the Salvadoran government aimed at persecuting and criminalizing critical and opposition voices.

We consider the decision to grant house arrest to Violeta and Erlinda is only a first step in the struggle to win their full freedom; therefore, we reiterate our solidarity with El Salvador’s political prisoners and with the struggle of COFAPPES for justice for the victims of political persecution and unjust arrests in El Salvador.

Stop political persecution! The struggle for justice for political prisoners continues!

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Monument to Memory and Truth, Parque Cuscatlán, San Salvador. Photo credit: Jorge Montenegro (www.jmontenegro.com.sv), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners of El Salvador hold a press conference in San Salvador to announce the delivery of letters from the international community to various state institutions.

Graphic from "Página de Maíz" publication #880, from Equipo Maíz. Signs read: “Free our relatives! They are innocent!” . . . “The State of Exception is like the snake that only bites people who are barefoot.”