Offices attacked, vital evidence stolen and burned. Write a letter in support of El Salvador’s Pro-Búsqueda
In the early hours of 14 November, three armed men forced their way into the offices of Pro-Búsqueda, an organisation dedicated to locating children who ‘disappeared’ during El Salvador’s civil war.
Three staff members were held captive while two of the men went room to room to find laptops and computers, in what appeared to be a targeted effort to steal information vital to Pro-Búsqueda’s work – legal information on cases currently before El Salvador’s Supreme Court.
Before leaving, the attackers poured petrol over filing cabinets and set them on fire, destroying files and key details on cases the organisation has worked on since 1994. A few hours later, one of Pro-Búsqueda female employee’s was followed.
In a little more than half an hour, two decades of Pro-Búsqueda’s work was almost entirely destroyed.
Pro-Búsqueda is dedicated to locating children that were “disappeared” El Salvador’s civil war, in which over 700 children ‘disappeared’. Some were taken in by soldiers, some were placed in orphanages, while others were put up for adoption in El Salvador, the United States and Europe.
More than 300 children have been found, and most of these have been reunited with their biological families.
Children like Martina, who along with her sister Silvia was forcibly separated from their biological family in 1982. Their father was killed in the conflict, but their mother survived. Both girls were adopted by different families in Italy, where they were well cared for. Neither knew of the circumstances of their adoption, or of the other’s existence, until 2003.
Martina and Silvia were reunited by Pro Búsqueda and six years later they took the decision to travel to El Salvador with their adopted families, to discover their roots and find their biological family. They were finally reunited with their biological mother, sisters and extended family in December 2009.
This is the type of work that has been put at risk by the attack on Pro-Búsqueda’s office. But there’s another sinister angle. This attempt to steal and erase records from the past follows hot on the heels of the sudden closure of the Catholic Church’s legal aid office (Tutela Legal). This office had spent decades documenting the very worst human rights violations of El Salvador’s civil war, including the massacre at El Mozote.
It’s no coincidence that both these events have taken place shortly after the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments challenging the Amnesty Law. Passed in 1993, it has so far protected all those who committed human rights violations during the conflict. It has protected those who abducted children, massacred whole villages, murdered government opponents, tortured and killed thousands of activists, trade unionists, lawyers, journalists...
You can help protect Pro-Búsqueda staff and call for an urgent investigation into the raid.
It couldn’t be easier. Simply download the urgent action file and a pre-prepared letter you can send just below. For the cost of a stamp you could stand up for the hundreds of ‘disappeared’ children that Pro Búsqueda help.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.