MAC: Mines and Communities

Student Anti-Mining Activist "Disappeared" in El Salvador

Published by MAC on 2011-06-20
Source: Statement (2011-06-15)

For recent news on resistance to Pacrim in El Salvador, see: Leader of resistance to Canadian mine in El Salvador receives Goldman Prize

ESPAÑOL

Student Anti-Mining Activist Disappeared in El Salvador

US-El Salvador Solidarity

15 June 2011

On June 2, in the city of Ilobasco, Cabañas, thirty year-old Juan Francisco Duran Ayala was putting up flyers and banners that asked for the approval of a law against metal mining and for the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim to leave Cabañas as part of a Cabañas Environmental Committee (CAC) campaign. The CAC reports that the mayor of Ilobasco, José Maria Dimas Castellano, ordered members of the municipal police to remove the banners and intimidate the activists that were hanging them. The next day Juan Francisco left for his classes at the Technological University in San Salvador and was not heard from again.

Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, murdered activist in El Salvador
Juan Francisco Duran Ayala,
murdered activist in El Salvador
Source: CAC

Yesterday we received word that Juan Francisco Duran Ayala's body was located and today there has been a positive identification of his body. The Coroner says he died from a bullet in the head.

This murder comes 2 years after the kidnapping and murder of anti-mining activist Marcelo Rivera, and the murders of 2 other CAC activists, Ramiro Rivera y Dora Alica Sorto.

We believe that as long as the earlier cases continue without investigative results leading to the intellectual authors, impunity will continue to reign allowing continued actions of intimidation and violence in Cabañas.

Juan Francisco's father Benjamin Ayala Flores is the Coordinator of the FMLN war veterans association in Ilobasco. He lives in Ilobasco CAMARA copiaand his dream was to see his son graduate with a degree in languages from the Technological University, where Juan Francisco has been studying for over three years.

As members of Radio Victoria our hearts go out to Juan Francisco´s family and to the Cabañas Environmental Committee for the Defense of Water and Natural Resources who once again are suffering a needless tragedy.

We will continue to inform on how events unfold and to pressure authorities to do their job in a thorough and exhaustive way.

BELOW IS YET ANOTHER PETITION TO SEND EMAILS AND LETTERS TO AUTHORITIES DEMANDING AN INVESTIGATION THAT REALLY GETS TO THE BOTTOM OF WHOM THE INTELLECTUAL AUTHORS ARE BEHIND THESE COWARDLY AND CRIMINAL ACTS.

*** Radio Victoria Workers ***

Join the CAC and the family of Juan Francisco in calling on the authorities-specifically the Attorney General's Office and the Civilian National Police (PNC)-to conduct a thorough and exhaustive investigation into all the cases of violence towards community leaders in Cabañas and to specifically set up a task force to investigate the disappearance of Juan Francisco. The CAC demands that the investigations look for possible ties between this case of violence and local mayors José Ignacio Bautista, Edgar Bonilla and José Maria Dimas Castellano as well as any ties to the mining company Pacific Rim.

Send an email to the Attorney General Romeo Barahona (see sample email below) and Manuel Melgar, the Minister of Justice and Security, to demand a full investigation and protection for the victims. Please send the email to Barahona's assistant at hector.burgos@fgr.gob.svand to Minister Melgar jusegministro@seguridad.gob.sv and his assistant Sandra.lazo@seguridad.gob.sv.

If you speak Spanish, please also call Salvadoran Attorney General Romeo Barahona at 011-503- 2230-6350 (see sample script below). Please also call Minister Melgar 011-503-7070-0081 (see sample script below).

Sample Email to Attorney General Barahona
hector.burgos@fgr.gob.sv

Estimado Señor Fiscal General de la República,

Como miembro de la comunidad internacional, quiero expresar mi profunda preocupación sobre las nuevas amenazas y los casos de violencia contra líderes sociales en Cabañas.

Hace más de una semana Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, miembro del Comité Ambiental de Cabañas en Defensa del Agua y Cultura (CAC) desapareció, a pocos días después de haber participado en actividades contra la minería en Cabañas. Urge que el PNC y la Fiscalía establezcan un equipo especializado de investigación sobre este caso.

Además, urge una investigación profunda y eficaz sobre este último caso y todas las amenazas contra los ambientalistas de Cabañas, para determinar quiénes son los autores materiales, intelectuales y financieros. Es necesario también re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos caso, los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y Gerardo Abrego León, las nuevas amenazas contra el personal de Radio Victoria, y la desaparición de Juan Francisco Duran Ayala.

Finalmente, tomando en cuenta los nexos entre esta violencia y la lucha contra la minería, los casos de violencia y las amenazas contra líderes sociales en Cabañas requieren una investigación profunda para identificar los autores materiales e intelectuales. Estas investigaciones deben de incluir posibles nexos entre la violencia y la compañía minera Pacific Rim, y las autoridades locales como los alcaldes de San Isidro, Ilobasco y Sensuntepeque.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas que se han dado en Cabañas desde 2007 siguen en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos casos de violencia. Pido que, por favor, tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para los afectados.

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar las investigaciones y espero que pronto se haga justicia en estos casos. Estaré pendiente de las acciones de la Fiscalía y seguiré informando a los y las funcionarias de gobierno en mi país sobre estos casos.

Atentamente,
Your Name

--

Sample Email to Minister of Justice and Security jusegministro@seguridad.gob.sv and Sandra.lazo@seguridad.gob.sv.

Estimado Señor Ministro de Seguridad y Justicia,

Como miembro de la comunidad internacional, quiero expresar mi profunda preocupación sobre las nuevas amenazas y los casos de violencia contra líderes sociales en Cabañas.

Hace más de una semana Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, miembro del Comité Ambiental de Cabañas en Defensa del Agua y Cultura (CAC) desapareció, a pocos días después de haber participado en actividades contra la minería en Cabañas. Urge que el PNC y la Fiscalía establezcan un equipo especializado de investigación sobre este caso.

Además, urge una investigación profunda y eficaz sobre este último caso y todas las amenazas contra los ambientalistas de Cabañas, para determinar quiénes son los autores materiales, intelectuales y financieros. Es necesario también re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos casos, los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y Gerardo Abrego León, las nuevas amenazas contra el personal de Radio Victoria, y la desaparición de Juan Francisco Duran Ayala.

Finalmente, tomando en cuenta los nexos entre esta violencia y la lucha contra la minería, los casos de violencia y las amenazas contra líderes sociales en Cabañas requieren una investigación profunda para identificar los autores materiales e intelectuales. Estas investigaciones deben de incluir posibles nexos entre la violencia y la compañía minera Pacific Rim, y las autoridades locales como los alcaldes de San Isidro, Ilobasco y Sensuntepeque.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas que se han dado en Cabañas desde 2007 siguen en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos casos de violencia. Pido que, por favor, tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para los afectados.

Agradezco de antemano sus gestiones para agilizar las investigaciones y espero que pronto se haga justicia en estos casos. Estaré pendiente de las acciones de la PNC y seguiré informando a los y las funcionarias de gobierno en mi país sobre estos casos.

--

Atentamente,
Your Name
Translation

As a member of the international community, I want to express my deep concern about the new cases of violence and threats against social leaders in Cabañas.

More than a week ago Juan Francisco Duran Ayala, member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas in Defense of Water and Cultura (CAC) disappeared, a few days after having participated in activities protesting mining in Cabañas. A specialized task force of prosecutors and members of the National Civilian police should be assigned to investigate this case.

In addition, there needs to be a thorough and efficient investigations into this recent case and all of the threats to environmentalists in Cabañas, to determine who the material, intellectual and financial authors are. It is also necessary to re-open the Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto, and Ramiro Rivera cases in order to investigate links between those cases, the murders of Darwin Serrano and Gerardo Abrego León, the new threats against the staff of Radio Victoria, and the disappearance of Juan Francisco Duran Ayala.

Finally, taking into account the ties between this violence and the anti-mining struggles, the cases of violence and threats against Cabañas social movement leaders require a thorough investigation to identify the material and intellectual authors. These investigations should look into the possible ties between the violence and the mining company Pacific Rim as well as local authorities like the mayors of San Isidro, Ilobasco, and Sensuntepeque.

This new case of violence has arisen because the violence and threats that have occurred in Cabañas since 2007 remain in impunity. I ask that you please take the necessary measures to assure justice and protection for those affected.

Thank you in advance for your efforts to begin thorough investigations and I hope that soon there will be justice in these cases. I will continue to follow the actions of the Attorney General's office and the National Civil Police (PCN) and will continue informing my elected officials about these cases.

Call Script for Attorney General Barahona (direct number for his assistant, Hector Burgos: 011-503- 2230-6350)

Buenos (días/tardes)

Mi nombre es_______________________ y llamo para expresar mi preocupación sobre la desaparición de Juan Francisco Duran Ayala y la violencia contra líderes sociales en Cabañas.

Urge una investigación profunda sobre la desaparición del Señor Duran Ayala con un equipo especializado, y así también es necesario re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos caso, los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y Gerardo Abrego León, las nuevas amenazas contra el personal de Radio Victoria y la desaparición del Señor Duran Ayala.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas anteriores quedaron en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos hechos de violencia. Pido que el Fiscal General tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para las y los afectados.

Gracias

Call Script for Minister of Justice and Security Manuel Melgar (direct number: 011-503- 7070-0081)

Buenos (días/tardes)

Mi nombre es_______________________ y llamo para expresar mi preocupación sobre la desaparición de Juan Francisco Duran Ayala y la violencia contra líderes sociales en Cabañas.

Urge una investigación profunda sobre la desaparición del Señor Duran Ayala con un equipo especializado, y así también es necesario re-abrir los casos de Marcelo Rivera, Dora Alicia Sorto y Ramiro Rivera para investigar vínculos entre estos caso, los asesinatos de Darwin Serrano y Gerardo Abrego León, las nuevas amenazas contra el personal de Radio Victoria y la desaparición del Señor Duran Ayala.

El hecho de que la violencia y amenazas anteriores quedaron en impunidad ha permitido que surgieran los nuevos hechos de violencia. Pido que el PNC tome las medidas necesarias para asegurar justicia y protección para las y los afectados.

Gracias.

The U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities Homepage is: http://www.elsalvadorsolidarity.org


IACHR Condemns Murder of Human Rights Defender in El Salvador

CIDH Press Release N° 62/11

24 June 2011

Washington, D.C.  - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder in El Salvador of human rights defender Juan Francisco Durán Ayala, who was an activist with the Comité Ambiental de Cabañas para la Defensa del Agua y los Recursos Naturales (Cabañas Environmental Committee for the Defense of Water and Natural Resources, or CAC for its acronym in Spanish). The CAC is an organization that defends the environment from the impact of mining activities in the area of El Dorado, in San Isidro Cabañas. The IACHR urges the State of El Salvador to investigate and legally clarify this crime, and punish the perpetrators and masterminds.

According to the information received by the IACHR, on June 2, 2011, Juan Francisco Durán Ayala allegedly hung posters and banners calling for the approval of an anti-mining law and demanding that a mining company cease its activities in Cabañas. The following day, Juan Francisco Durán was reportedly seen alive for the last time when he left his house to take classes at the Universidad Tecnológica in San Salvador. The information received alleges that the body of Juan Francisco Durán was found June 4, with two gunshot wounds to the head, in the municipality of Soyapango.

The IACHR stresses that the murder of Juan Francisco Durán is the fourth case the Commission has been informed about in the last two years involving the murder of human rights defenders who had opposed mining activities in Cabañas. According to information presented to the Commission during its 140th session, Marcelo Rivera Moreno, a member of the Asociación Amigos de San Isidro Cabañas (Association of Friends of San Isidro Cabañas) and an activist who had opposed the operations of the El Dorado mine, was found dead in a well on June 30, 2009, after having been missing for 12 days; Ramiro Rivera Gómez, a CAC member, was murdered on December 20, 2009, when he was traveling in a pickup truck on a rural road in the canton of Trinidad; and Dora Alicia Sorto, also a CAC member, was killed with a firearm on December 26, 2009.

The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State's obligation to investigate such acts of its own accord and to punish those responsible. The Commission also urges the State of El Salvador to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and security of environmentalists in the country.

In the last few years, the defense of the environment and its relationship to human rights are issues that have arisen more frequently in the Commission's work and in the petitions and requests it receives. At the same time, the IACHR is receiving more and more complaints about killings, threats, and harassment against those who work in defense of the environment. The Commission recalls that the work of human rights defenders is critical for building a solid and lasting democratic society, and that defenders play a leading role in the process to fully implement the rule of law and to strengthen democracy. As the Commission has previously said, acts of violence and other attacks perpetrated against human rights defenders not only affect the guarantees that belong to all human beings; they also undermine the essential role human rights defenders play in society and contribute to the vulnerability of all those whose rights they champion.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

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