Human rights organizations critque government actions against Suchitoto protests

Marchers took to the streets this week to demand freedom for the "Suchitoto 13" who are now being called political prisoners. In addition, respected human rights organizations have issued statements and reports on the protests on July 2 outside Suchitoto and the subsequent prosecution of 13 persons under the new Anti-Terrorism law.

Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the Catholic archbishop in San Salvador, investigated and released a report on the events in Suchitoto. The report is harshly critical of the actions of the government finding that:

  • There was a disproportionate use of force by the riot police.

  • The armed forces were used in violation of the consitution in an internal security matter with an intention to arbitrarily dissuade legitimate social protest.

  • The arrests made were arbitrary and unjustified.

  • Physical and psychological torture was exacted on those arrested.

  • "The agents of the police and high officials who ordered the arbitrary use of force against peaceful demonstrators, without trying mediation in order to guaranty the free transit of vehicles, acting moreover with the aim of punishment and terror, should be criminally investigated."

  • The prosecutor and judge acted improperly in allowing the incarceration of those arrested under the anti-Terrorism law without individualized proof and without evidence of more than sticks and stones against police firing rubber bullets and tear gas.

The Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America (IDHUCA) released its statement titled Saving El Salvador on the events in Suchitoto. Echoing many of the themes of the Tutela Legal report, the IDHUCA warned that the real threat of terrorism in the country comes from the fertile soil of exclusion, marginalization, intolerance and social, economic and political confrontation. The threat is not citizens exercising their right to engage in social protest.

Amnesty International expressed its concerns in a press release:

Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the use of anti-terrorist legislation against thirteen demonstrators who are leaders of social organizations. The reaction of the authorities would appear to indicate improper and disproportionate use of the Special Law against Acts of Terrorism (Ley Especial contra Actos de Terrorismo) which was approved by the Legislative Assembly in September 2006. In this instance, the organization fears that those concerned were arrested to punish them for their involvement in legitimate acts of protest and to prevent similar such acts in the future...

According to international human rights standards, this was a lawful demonstration and that is why Amnesty International is concerned that the Special Law against Acts of Terrorism should have been applied to the accused. It is also concerned about the current situation of the thirteen detainees since they are reportedly being held with convicted prisoners, many of whom were found guilty of violent offences.

Thanks to Ixquic, Larry and Geoff for sending me the reports.


Basta de Casaca said…
Hi Tim,

Take a look at this:

"Arbitrary detention and use of excessive force by police in Suchitoto" - An article from the World Organization Against Torture.

(Sorry, but It seems that they have the article only in Spanish, but It's important).
Anonymous said…
We're dealing with a political party that ordered and carried out the murder of Mons. Romero. Does anyone think that they give a damn about human rights, justice and rule of law?
But we must make our voices heard.
Anonymous said…
I believe that saying that because some former ARENA members were involver in Romero's death doesn't make current members responsible for that. Is the same as saying that all Germans are Nazis or all members or followers of FMLN are terrorists. Those kind of ideas are just the ones that generate violence and crimp reconciliation.
Even though, I definitely agree that this was a lamentable incident and it's shocking that we may not have the legitimate right of protesting. This must be fixed.
Caesar said…
Hopefully this won't just be swept under the rug now.
El-Visitador said…
«Marchers took to the streets this week to demand freedom» for the gang of 13 Suchitoto sociopaths.

Any arrests this week?



Easy: the terrorists shown violently attacking the police and destroying the people's property on this video here at Tim's blog are already in jail.

- * -

El Salvador is like any other democratic country. You have a right to express yourself peacefully.

If you burn and destroy our roads, or if you attack our citizens who serve and protect with sticks and stones, then of course you are sick and need to spend a long time in jail where you will not be harming other Salvadoreans.
Anonymous said…
EV is just a cyber troll who tries to provoke. Don't take his bait.
Anonymous said…
"I believe that saying that because some former ARENA members were involver in Romero's death doesn't make current members responsible for that. Is the same as saying that all Germans are Nazis or all members or followers of FMLN are terrorists."

Saying all Germans are Nazis is clearly wrong. It would certainly be correct, however, to state that all members of the Nazi party are Nazis. No one has said that all Salvadorans are members of ARENA. It is certainly true, however, that all members of ARENA are members of ARENA.
Anonymous said…
Mmm I think I disagree

Unless FMLN reject the violence they are then murderers too! I remember then killing majors and civil population also during war. So, all FMLN members are also murderers.

Clearly methods from the 80's would be wrong now and they do not apply for current conditions. Neither killing somebody who is legitimately protesting nor using violence when there is a Parliament where political ideas can be debated or ideas can be proposed.

Kindly I would encourage also not to blame as murder everyone who disagrees with your ideas.
Anonymous said…
The FMLN accepted full responsibility for the crimes attributed to it in the Truth Commission Report. The party also acknowledged that these acts were morally wrong and asked the nation and the world for forgiveness.

ARENA called the Truth Commission report a pack of lies and said that the party's only crime was defending the country against Communists, like Archbishop Romero. They are openly proud of their actions during the war and do not even pretend to make apologies.
Hodad said…
this changes things
are you sure they apologized and ARENA was typically arrogant
I would like to see this reference
visitador, shut up
Anonymous said…
Here are some funny tidbits concerning ARENA and D'AUbisson.

Every campaign ARENA begins it in Izalco to remember the day and place where "they defeated communism" in 1932 (The Slaughter, were more than 30,000 people where butchered) with their usual friendly song. This practice was begun by D'Aubisson. On the other hand, the natives have to constantly suffer the smear on the face this "ritual" constitutes, the remembrance where genocide was commited against the natives and how they continue being forgotten.

A park was ignaurated bearing Robert D'Aubisson's name, and even recently ARENA celebrated D'Aubisson's death in that same plaza. Even then you could take pictures of ARENA historical figures like Alfredo Cristiani, Calderon Sol and members of the "old guard".

Folks like Hugo Barrera, one of the founders of ARENA are still active in politics.

There is a "political" insitute founded by ARENA and baring D'Aubissons name. Not only that, but some teachers have argued that students were meant to go there as part of their curriculum, arranged by the Minister of Education.

And for humor, in places like hi5 you can find profiles dedicated to ARENA, to the assassination of Monseñor Romero (referring to him using many lowly terms) and young folks actually exalting Hitler and Nazism, alleged members of Juventud Nacionalista.

So I guess what I'm trying to say, is that the old guard is still active within ARENA and the new guard is definately being raised under the same values as the old guard, some of them being total unshame over past attrocities( infact flaunting over them due to the culture of impunity that ARENA created), veneration of D'Aubisson as a hero, a love for the status quo among others.

Maybe not all ARENA members were responsible for the murder of Romero. But many of them, even new ones seem to feel proud over it. No remorse so to speak, just remember everytime you think of ARENA of their old song "El Salvador sera la tumba donde los rojos terminaran". They are still definately stuck in the past, and I'm afraid to say that perhaps they even yearn for it (looking at Saca's confrontational speeches of "national warriors" and that infamous letter ARENA was sending demanding folks to make a donation and to rest assured that ARENA was going to prevent an alternation in power)...
Anonymous said…
El Visitador doesn't see the difference between Bin Laden and sindicalistas, vandals or poor people.. ha, ha, ha, ha, do you need glasses buddy?

I've seen pictures of policemen in El Salvador throwing
rocks at CDs vendors.. does that make those policemen terrorists, EV?