International is encouraging people to send a message of
solidarity to William Hernandez--a gay activist in El
Salvador who has received death threats apparently
intended to deter him from campaigning--as
Amnesty launches its annual Greeting Cards Campaign.
Hernandez is the
director of Asociacion Entre Amigos (Between Friends
Association), and he and other members of the group have
received death threats.
these threats are attempts to prevent Hernandez and his
colleagues from providing sex education to LGBT people and
to discourage them from speaking out against human
under which William Hernandez and his colleagues carry
out their work in El Salvador are far from ideal," said Mike
Blakemore, Amnesty International's media director.
"William's been threatened at gunpoint, and over the
last five years the organization's office has been
raided seven times. In spite of the organization
reporting these raids, investigations have been superficial,
and no one has been brought to justice.
"Sending a card
is a simple yet effective way of offering a great
sense of hope and solidarity to William and his colleagues,
and it also sends a message to the authorities in El
Salvador that people around the world care about the
staff at this organization," Blakemore added.
According to the
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission,
an anonymous male made death threats over the telephone
during three calls received by Entre Amigos between
morning and late evening.
In one call, the
person said that he wanted to speak to Hernandez and
that he already knew how to reach the Entre Amigos office in
order to kill him. The caller also left an accurate
physical description of Hernandez.
In a later call
that day, the same individual warned, "Tell that son
of a bitch not to leave tonight." The threats were aimed not
only at Hernandez but at his two daughters and his
father--whose whereabouts the anonymous caller
seemed to know in ominous detail.
Greeting Cards Campaign--which encourages people to
send messages of hope and solidarity to people around
the world facing persecution, torture, and other human
rights abuses--is expected to generate thousands
of messages for William and the other 25 cases
featured this year.
a transgender woman featured in last year's campaign,
received thousands of appeals from people around the world,
succeeding in putting the issue of police brutality
against transgender people back on the map in
"During a season
when so many of us are sending messages of goodwill to
friends and family, we're asking people to add an extra card
to their list and really make a difference for people
under threat," Blakemore said.
For details on
how to send a message of support to William Hernandez, go
to www.amnesty.org.uk. (Stewart Who?,