Release: Members of US Congress Express Concern About Terrorism Charges Against Suchitoto Prisoners

Press Release

Letters sent to Salvadoran President Antonio Saca before possible trail setto begin for �Suchitoto 13�

WASHINGTON, D.C. � Members of theUnited States Congress this week sent letters to the President of El Salvadorexpressing concern for the state of human rights and civil liberties in thatcountry. The letters are in response to charges of terrorism that are beingapplied to 13 individuals arrested at a protest against water privatization inthe town of Suchitotoon July 2, 2007. These charges were made under a 2006 �Special Law Against Actsof Terrorism� that was strongly supported by the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. TheSalvadoran government is set to present its evidence in the case to a specialterrorism tribunal, also established by the 2006 law, on Friday, February 8.

The letters were sent byCongressional Representatives, among them Michael Capuano of Massachusetts,Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, and Michael Michaud of Maine. Several of the letters sent this weekrefer to a similar letter signed by 40 members of Congress in response to theSuchitoto case in August 2007.

In his February 5 letter toPresident Antonio Saca, Congressman Michael Michaud states his �concernregarding the human rights situation in El Salvador with respect to thecase of those arrested in Suchitoto and charged with acts of terrorism.� Withthe legal case against the �Suchitoto 13� set go move forward this week,Congressman Michaud expresses his �hope that the actions of the Salvadorangovernment reflect the values of free political expression, civil liberties andthe rule of law.�

Numerous human rights organizations,both in El Salvadorand on the international level, denounced the Salvadoran government�s treatmentof the Suchitoto prisoners and the terrorism charges themselves. In a July 13,2007, statement, Amnesty International said it �fears that those concerned werearrested to punish them for their involvement in legitimate acts of protest andto prevent similar such acts in the future.� The report goes on to state that �anycharges that impair the lawful exercise of fundamental rights should be droppedand anyone facing such charges should be released.�

U.S.-based solidarity organizationshave also called for the terrorism charges to be dropped. A national �week ofaction� to draw attention to the issue was carried out around the United Statesin January. Sponsors of the week of action included the Committee in Solidaritywith the People of El Salvador (CISPES), U.S.-El Salvador SisterCities, and the SHAREFoundation. According to Burke Stansbury, Executive Director of CISPES, �asorganizations that work in solidarity with the Salvadoran social movement, wehave a responsibility to work against repression in ElSalvador, especially when that repression is supportedand encouraged by the UnitedStates.�

Contact: Burke Stansbury, CISPES: 718 832-9399

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