Friday, July 27, 2007

 

Civil Liberties Crisis in El Salvador


From our good friends at Voices on the Border:


TAKE ACTION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

Right now, El Salvador is embroiled in a conflict that closely mirrors some of our own struggles here in the United States. Last year, the Salvadoran government passed anti-terrorism legislation, with the encouragement of the United States, and now thirteen activists are being charged with that law for what many see as the “crime” of peaceful protest.

Right now, Rep. Michael Capuano’s office (D-MA) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter, asking his colleagues in the US House of Representatives to add their signature to a letter to El Salvador’s President Elías Antonio Saca, expressing their concern about this issue (see the attachments to read the letter the Congresspeople will send to President Saca and the letter Rep. Capuano is sending to his colleagues to ask them to sign on.)

For this letter to have an impact, it must be signed by as many representatives as possible. That includes your representative.

Please call your representative TODAY at (202) 224-3121. Ask to speak with the Foreign Affairs staffer. Tell them your name and where you live, and, if you’d like, tell them about the relationship you have to El Salvador. In your own words, tell them:

I am concerned about the use of anti-terrorism legislation to repress peaceful protest in El Salvador, and I am asking your office to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter, being circulated by Rep. Capuano’s office. The letter addresses the July 2nd arrest of fourteen peaceful protesters in El Salvador who now face up to 60 years in prison. People around the world are demanding their immediate release. The United States supported El Salvador’s passage of this anti-terrorism legislation and we must make sure that it is not used to punish people for expressing their opinions. Have you seen the letter from Rep. Capuano’s office? Would your boss be willing to sign it?

You can give them Christina Tsafoulias’s phone number in Rep. Capuano’s office (202-225-5111) to find out more about how to sign the letter. If they haven’t seen the letter, please email them the two attachments to this message. Make sure to follow up with them if they haven’t called you back within 24 hours. The deadline for signatures is next Friday, the beginning of the August Congressional recess.

Be sure to email or call Voices on the Border and let us know if you’ve had any contact at all with your representative’s office, so that we can follow up as well. voices@votb.org, (202) 529-2912


BACKGROUND
A few weeks ago, we wrote to let you know about the arrest of 14 peaceful activists on July 2. They were arrested while protesting the government’s plan to decentralize the water system (widely viewed as a step toward privatization.) Thirteen of the 14 were charged with an article in the anti-terrorism law about “physically threatening government authorities” – a charge which carries 40-60 years in prison. We join with human rights activists from around the world who demand that these political prisoners be freed immediately and that anti-terrorism legislation not be used to persecute peaceful activists.


Thank you for your support of peace and justice in El Salvador.

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