Solidarity with anti-mining environmental activists in El Salvador sign now

THREE MORE ANTI-MINING ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS KILLED IN EL SALVADOR

Campaign of threats, persecution and violence against environmental organisations opposed to the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim intensifies

On 26th December 2009 DORA ALICIA SORTOS, aged 32 and eight months pregnant, was shot dead in the municipality of Sensuntepeque, in the department of Cabaсas in El Salvador. She was married to a well-known member of the Environmental Committee of Cabaсas (Comitй Ambiental de Cabaсas). Dora Alicia was walking along a rural path with her three year old son when she was shot. She was killed instantly. Her son was wounded in the attack and received medical attention at the local hospital.

Six days earlier, unknown assailants shot dead RAMIRO RIVERA, also in Sensuntepeque (Cabaсas). He was a prominent member of the Environmental Committee of Cabaсas and was well known in the movement opposing exploitative mining in the region. Also killed in the same attack was FELICITA ECHEVERRIA, 57 years old and a relative of Rivera. A 13 year old girl was injured in the attack.

In August, Ramiro Rivera had been seriously injured when he was shot eight times in an attack. Following this he received protection from the Victims and Witness Protection Unit, two of whom were with him at the time of his death on Sunday. These latest killings follow the disappearance and murder in June this year of another community leader and environmental campaigner, MARCELO RIVERA. 12 days after he disappeared his body was found showing clear signs of torture.

Both Marcelo and Ramiro were activists known for their opposition to the Canadian mining company PACIFIC RIM that is keen to exploit gold deposits in San Isidro. The company has operated in El Salvador since 2002, but the strength of the movement opposed to it and the irregularities found in the Environmental Impact Study led to the Salvadoran government denying the company permission to exploit the terrain. In return the company is suing the country of El Salvador for breach of contract and has asked, by way of compensation, for $100 million.

At the same time, the cases of repression, threats and violence have increased at an alarming rate in the last few months, putting in serious danger the security and physical integrity of members of different organisations campaigning against the mining project. On 27th July the Catholic priest LUIS QUINTANILLA was stopped while he travelled in his car and was shot at, and an attempt was made to kidnap him. He was able to get away from his attackers by escaping through nearby ravines. Journalists from the station RADIO VICTORIA have been subjected to a campaign of death threats. The Salvadoran Human Rights Ombudsman, Oscar Luna, requested protection for three of the journalists due to the risk to their lives they faced. Other activists such as MIGUEL RIVERA, brother of Marcelo, and HECTOR GARCIA, lawyer, case investigator and representative of MUFRAS-32, have also received death threats. The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights recently ordered for precautionary measures to be taken for Miguel Rivera and Hector Garcia, as well as for the journalists from Radio Victoria, obliging the Salvadoran state to offer them police protection.

The NATIONAL WORKING GROUP AGAINST METALLIC MINING in El Salvador (Mesa Nacional frente a la Minerнa Metбlica), a platform shared by more than ten Salvadoran NGOs, has condemned the National Civil Police and the Public Prosecutors Office for committing serious irregularities in the investigation into the killing of Marcelo Rivera. For the Group, the definition of this crime as common delinquency impeded the investigation into the intellectual perpetrators of this crime.

Following all of this, and JOINING THE CALL MADE BY THE NATIONAL WORKING GROUP AGAINST METALLIC MINING, we call upon the Salvadoran authorities:

To CARRY OUT INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE MATERIAL AND INTELLECTUAL PERPETRATORS OF THE KILLING OF DORA ALICIA SORTOS, RAMIRO RIVERA, FELICITA ECHEVERRIA AND MARCELO RIVERA, all well known local activists who campaigned against the mining activities of Pacific Rim in the Department of Cabaсas.

To implement EFFECTIVE PROTECTIVE MEASURES for community leaders, representatives of community organisations, religious activists and community journalists who are being persecuted and are receiving death threats because of their commitment defend the environment.

To comply with the RECOMMENDATIONS MADE BY THE SALVADORAN HUMAN RIGHTS OMBUDSMAN AND THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, relating to the security of these environmental activists.

That the Salvadoran Executive instigates a MINING LAW that expressly prohibits mining exploration and exploitation in El Salvador, given the serious environmental changes these types of projects provoke and the disastrous environmental consequences that result from their implementation.

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Joanne TylerBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
Petition target:
Environmental activists in El Salvador

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