• Campaigns

El Salvador: Death threats for activists demanding justice

, Index number: AMR 29/001/2009

Those seeking justice for a murdered environmental activist in Cabañas department, El Salvador, are at risk. Another anti-mining activist has also been shot, and five men and one boy have received threats and warnings in an effort to stop the campaign for justice for the murdered environmentalist, Gustavo Marcelo Rivera.

UA: 223/09 Index: AMR 29/001/2009 El Salvador Date: 27 August 2009
URGENT ACTION
DEATH THREATS FOR ACTIVISTS DEMANDING JUSTICE
Those seeking justice for a murdered environmental activist in Cabañas department, El Salvador,
are at risk. Another anti-mining activist has also been shot, and five men and one boy have
received threats and warnings in an effort to stop the campaign for justice for the murdered
environmentalist, Gustavo Marcelo Rivera.
The body of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, who opposed mining in the area, was found in Cabañas on 30 June, bound and
showing signs of torture. According to local human rights organizations, the authorities have charged at least two
men with his abduction and killing. However, as Gustavo Marcelo Rivera campaigned against what he considered
“deadly [mining] projects” that could have a negative impact on the people and the environment in the department,
Amnesty International is concerned that local authorities are not investigating the motives for his killing.
Ramiro Rivera, a male community leader who has also campaigned against gold mining in the area, was shot eight
times outside his home in Cabañas on 7 August. Police have arrested the man named by Ramiro Rivera as his
attacker. Ramiro Rivera is receiving treatment for his injuries.
Three broadcasters on a radio station in Cabañas, José Alexander Beltrán Castillo, aged 19, Ludwin Franklin Iraheta,
aged 20, and 16-year-old Vladimir Abarca Ayala, have received death threats after reporting on Gustavo Marcelo
Rivera's killing. The threats were sent in anonymous letters and SMS messages on 24 July. One of the SMS
messages said: “You are also on the list…you saw what happened to [Marcelo] the next one is you” On 27 July,
Father Luis Quintanilla, a Catholic priest in Cabañas, was driving home after appearing on the same radio station to
call for justice for Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, when another vehicle forced him off the road. Four hooded gunmen
travelling in the vehicle surrounded his car but Father Luis Quintanilla was able to escape unhurt. Community leader
Héctor Antonio Garcia Berríos was warned on 4 August by a man he knew that if he and Gustavo Marcelo Rivera's
brother, Miguel Rivera continued campaigning for justice for the murder, their lives would be at risk.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language, urging the Salavdoran authorities to:
Ensure that they provide José Alexander Beltrán Castillo, Ludwin Franklin Iraheta, Vladimir Abarca Ayala, Luis
Quintanilla, Ramiro Rivera, Miguel Rivera and Héctor Berríos with all necessary protection according to their wishes;
Urgently carry out an independent investigation into recent threats and attacks against anti-mining and
environmental activists, journalists, community and religious leaders in the department of Cabañas;
Thoroughly and promptly investigate the abduction, torture and killing of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, with the results
made public and those responsible, including those who may have ordered the killing to be brought to justice.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 08 OCTOBER 2009 TO:
Acting Attorney General
Lic. Ástor Escalante Saravia
Fiscal General en Funciones
Fiscalía General de la República
Final 4ª Calle Oriente y 19ª Avenida
Sur, Residencial Primavera,
Santa Tecla, La Libertad, San Salvador
El Salvador
Fax: +503 2523-7402/7170
Email: astor.escalante@fgr.gov.sv
Salutation: Dear Attorney General
Director of the National Civil Police
Comisionado Carlos Ascencio Girón
Director de la Policía Nacional Civil
Policía Nacional Civil
6ta. Calle Oriente entre 8va y 10ma
Ave. Sur, # 42 Barrio La Vega
San Salvador, El Salvador
Email: carlosascencio@pnc.gob.sv
Salutation: Dear Commissioner
And copies to:
Human Rights Organization
La Fundación de Estudios para la
Aplicación de Derecho
25 Calle Poniente No. 1332,
Col Layco
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax: +503 2236-1833
Email: fespadinfo@vip.telesal.net
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date.
Date: 27 August 2009
URGENT ACTION
ATTACKS CONTINUE AFTER ACTIVST MURDERED
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Community, development and environmental organizations in the Cabañas department have been campaigning against reported
electoral fraud following local elections in January and against mining exploration due to the potential environmental impact and
impact on the health of the local population. Threats, attacks and intimidation against activists reportedly began at least as early
as May 2008 when campaigning against mining exploration in the area began and have intensified since January this year when
activists denounced electoral irregularities following the elections.
Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, was Director of the House of Culture (Casa de Cultura), linked to the Ministry of Education in the
municipality of San Isidro Cabañas department and together with his brother Miguel Rivera, co-founder and director of the
community organization Association of Friends of San Isidro, Cabañas (Asociación Amigos de San Isidro Cabañas, ASIC). He had
a long history of activism including human rights education, denouncing electoral fraud and concern for the environment.
Radio Victoria is a community radio station, committed to social and human rights reporting. Broadcasters at Radio Victoria have
reported on anti-mining campaigns and have called for those responsible for the abduction and killing of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera
to be brought to justice. On 25 July, the human rights ombudsman in San Salvador called on the Attorney General and the
Director of the National Civil Police to provide security and protection measures for the three threatened broadcasters, to carry
out a thorough investigation into the threats and for those responsible to be brought to justice. Following the threats all three
broadcasters left Cabañas in fear for their safety. Ludwin Iraheta has since returned to work on Radio Victoria and is receiving
protection from police from outside the area. At the time of writing, Jose Beltrán, who has reportedly refused protection, and
Vladimir Abarca, have not yet returned to work in fear for their safety.
Leaders of other community-based organizations campaigning against mining in the area have also received death threats. On 29
July, Antonio Pacheco, Director of the Social and Economic Development Association of Santa (Asociación de Desarrollo
Económico y Social Santa Marta, ADES) received death threats. ADES has been campaigning against the negative consequences
of gold mining in Cabañas department and calling for justice in the killing of Gustavo Marcelo Rivera.
UA: 223/09 Index: AMR 29/001/2009 Issue Date: 27 August 2009

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