El Salvador: Stop political killings23 May 2008
Below is an abridged sign-on statement initiated by the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, http://cispes.org. To add you organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org The context for the violence is the increasing likelihood of a victory in the elections for early next year of the left-wing Farabundo Marti Liberation Front.
Ventura was one of 14 people who were prosecuted by the Salvadoran government for “acts of terrorism” after participating in a peaceful protest against water privatisation in Suchitoto on July 2, 2007. Their case caused tremendous national and international outcry against the grave misuse of anti-terror statutes against legitimate political expression.
Ventura’s murder was committed just weeks after all 14 of the prosecuted were granted definitive liberty. The court decision proved false the accusations that the government made against the group of activists throughout the ten months prior.
The murder was also committed just two days after Ventura had agreed to give testimony of his experience at a public “Day Against Impunity” event planned for July 2 by the mayor of Suchitoto. Although we still await a full investigation of the crime — one that investigates not only the assailants but also the intellectual authors of the crime — these circumstances, including the fact that Ventura was a young social activist, and particularly the fact that he was a recently released political prisoner, create grave concerns that his assassination was committed for political reasons, with the intention of destabilising and intimidating members of the political opposition.
As members of the international community concerned with human rights in El Salvador, we join the Salvadoran social organisations in denouncing this atrocity, and express our profound anxiety regarding several other murders of social activists and opposition political leaders in the last two years.
The Salvadoran Archbishop’s Legal Defence Office investigated 26 homicides in 2006 that suggested the participation of death squads reminiscent of the Salvadoran civil war.
In the 2007 report of the Archbishop’s Legal Defense Office, 113 of 169 investigated violent deaths were extrajudicial executions: executions committed by organised crime structures reminiscent of civil war-era death squads, met with tolerance or participation by the state, and committed with the intent of generating terror in the population, social cleansing, or elimination of political opposition members.
We call upon our own, international governments to urge the Salvadoran authorities to thoroughly investigate these cases; and urge the office of the Salvadoran ombudsperson for Human Rights to ensure provision of protection and safety for witnesses in these trials, as well as to opposition members who receive politically motivated threats.
From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue #752 28 May 2008.