CISPES Supports Human Rights Defender in Face of Death Threats

Sent: 26 January 2010 09:01 by Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

CISPES would like to express our heartfelt solidarity with El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Oscar Luna, who announced last Thursday, January 21 [2010] that he and his family have been receiving death threats. Luna declared that the threats have been delivered in the name of supposed extermination groups, demanding that he leave the country within 48 hours so as to not “obstruct the work of social cleansing” that they are attempting to carry out against “delinquency.” The re-emergence of such “social cleansing” groups was previously denounced by former Human Rights Ombudswoman Beatrice de Carrillo in 2006.

Oscar Luna has been an outspoken advocate for human rights in El Salvador. He defended the Suchitoto 13, water privatization protesters who were charged under the anti-terrorism law and denounced electoral fraud by ARENA during the 2009 elections. Most recently, he has pushed the Attorney General’s office to investigate the intellectual authors of the murders of Marcelo Rivera, Ramiro Rivera and Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos and mobilized his office to provide protection for environmental activists in Cabañas. He has decided not to leave his post, nor to leave the country. Instead, he is calling on the Attorney General and the head of the National Civilian Police to investigate and to provide additional protection for him and his family.

On January 16, El Salvador celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Peace Accords, when much of the State’s repressive apparatus was formally dismantled. However, the re-emergence of death squad structures, and the continued death threats against and assassinations of social movement activists, FMLN leaders and human rights defenders, represent a terrifying roll-back in the struggle for real democracy. CISPES stands with Mr. Luna in defending his position and in continuing his important work of promoting human rights in El Salvador and we call on the Attorney General’s office and the National Civilian Police to do everything within their power to protect Mr. Luna and all others in the struggle for justice in El Salvador.