Read the August 2009 informative Bulletin.
Persecution of MOVICE and its members
Members of the National Army fire indiscriminately against 10 civilians in San José del Guaviare1
On the 9th of September a group of farmers of the community of Puerto Cachicamo took a shortcut through the “Gorgona trail”, with the intention to collect an old machinery which was lying on the roadside. They had to stop to release the vehicle in which they were driving and which had got stuck in the mud, when there appeared three guerrillas to ask them where they were going. The farmers told them they were going to find an old machinery on the roadside, and the guerrilla members left. Minutes later the farmers were getting into their vehicles when gunfire started. The farmers shouted they were civilians, and not to shoot them, yet the shooting continued for another five minutes. At that moment soldiers of the Brigade Mobile No 7 arrived, pointing with their rifles at the heads of those who were alive, throwing them on the floor and declaring them as part of the guerrillas. The farmers were treated with profanity and according to one of the survivors a soldier wanted to shoot one of the farmers that was lying on the ground at point blank, but one of his companions told him not to, since they were civilians. Each vehicle had approximately 150 impacts, according to testimony of the survivors. After the soldiers inspected the area and told the farmers that had survived, to say it was an accident, that the soldiers had shouted loud. However one of the residents injured argues that they had never heard the Army (…). The three dead bodies, three wounded and the survivors were taken to the battalion in San Jose del Guaviare.
Five members of the Awá community have been recently killed.2
A week after the massacre of 12 members of the Awá community, including seven minors on August 26, another five members of the Awá community have been assasinated. Moreover, the presence of armed masked men have caused a mass displacement of over 200 people from the Awa indigenous reserve Rosario to the village of Guayacana, municipality of Tumaco, since the 3rd of September.
Abuse of authority and judicial persecution in Putumayo
* Abuses of authority, harassment, accusations, and threats by military units against residents of the village La Pedregosa, Perla Amazónica, municipality of Puerto Asis, took place after the military units sustained armed contact in proximity of the community with members of the guerrilla FARC-EP. Because of the accusations, threats and photographic records, a family was forced to forcefully displace from the village on the 8th of octubre.3
* Judicial persecution of the Nasa indigenous authorities Jhon Jairo Velasco and Albeiro Escué the Reservation Nasa, San Luis High Picudito, in the village of Puerto Umbrian town of Villa. The military operations in the Indigenous Reserve last year clearly indicate that the military forces treat the indigenous territory as part of a guerrilla strategy, ignoring the nature of the community as civilian population, as well as their traditions and their customs through which the indigenous community has built a life plan and mechanisms to avoid being part of the military actions of any of the sides in conflict. The development of psychological techniques and covert operations within the indigenous reserve show clearly that their is an objective to falsely relate the community with guerrilla activity.4
Assassinated president of the Municipal Council of El Castillo (Meta)5
On the 30st of September in a street of the village Medellin of the Ariari Mr. Germain Herrera was wounded with several bullet wounds and died while being transferred from Medellin to the hospital in El Castillo, 15 minutes from where the attack occurred. Germain Herrera, a 43-year-old father of three children, was a prominent community leader in the region, currently working on social support projects that had led to contradictions with the municipal administration. Closely related people claim that Germain Herrera recently had been threatened. According to witnesses the shootings were conducted by a large man, who had been wearing a hat, with his face covered and who fled to the countryside on a horse. After the killing a threat was realized against the regional ombudsman of El Castillo, who had been working on the case at the request of the Civic Committee for Human Rights of Meta.
Harassment of human rights defenders of the Solidarity Committee with Political Prisoners (FCSPP)6
* On the 9th of September, Maria Cedeño Sarmiento, a member of the regional office of the FCSPP Atlantic Coast, was addressed in Barranquilla by two men who covered their faces and were driving a motorcycle. A second harassment occurred in the same city that same day against Saskia de Rio, when she realized a man was following her on a motorbike. The man forced her to move to the sidewalk and to run away. The man followed and intimidated her for several blocks.
* On the 10th of September, Deivid Florez, at a time when he was in a meeting with the UN Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, received a phone call from his mother who informed him that strangers had called by phone to his house and they said referring to Deivid "tell him to take care that this time we are going to fuck him." Before uttering the threat, the stranger had asked where Deivid was, what time he would arrive, what time he had arrived the night before and other data. In the days before the Deivid Florez had received suspicious calls from people identifying themselves as bank officials asking for personal information, as well as data from close relatives. Also, strange vehicles had been around his house and at one occasion his mother and the house were photographed.
Threats against the departmental direction of the Agrarian Association of Santander (ASOGRAS)
On September 15th Mr Alecxer Daniel Contreras, member of ASOGRAS and member of the Departmental Human Rights Team, received death threats on his personal cellphone, saying he would be killed if he would continue with his work as a Human Rights defender. Alecxer had already received death threats in July.7
ASOGRAS rejected this month the eviction ordered by the mayor of Lebrija, for September 30, 2009 in the place known as the Palanqueros Village, Lebrija municipality (Santander). The place that should be evicted is the home of displaced, who have recovered this peace of land to make it produce again.8
XI National Forum for Human Rights and Peace
On the 10th, 11th and 12th of September in Bogotá, 920 delegates from various regions and sectors of the country, after thirteen preparatory regional forums, realized a National Forum on the Human Rights situation in the country. The forum was organized by the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH). Read the Final Declaration: http://www.comitepermanente.org/declacracion_final_xi_foro.html
Campaign against enforced disappearance in the Atlantic Department
The organizations that comprise the MOVICE Atlantic Chapter invited the population to participate in the launch of the campaign “Do the right thing, until we find them” on the 13th of September in Barranquilla. More information on the campaign.
Manifestation against enforced disappearance and presentation of the "Gallery to not forget"
The manifestation was held on the 11th of September by the MOVICE Chapter Norte de Santander, the lawyers collective Luis Carlos Perez (CCA), Farmers Association Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT) and the regional branch of the judicial union ASONAL in front of the Palace of Justice in Cucutá in the framework of the campaign: “Do the right thing, until we find them”.
The families remember their victims of Extrajudicial Executions
On the 12th of September the campaign called "Look at Catatumbo. It's victims: A river of memory and Dignity" organized a pilgrimage from Agua Chica to Ocaña in Norte de Santander. The pilgrimage takes place one year after the appearance of the bodies of young men from Soacha in the municipality of Ocaña, Norte de Santander. These young men had been taken there with false promises and were killed by the National Army and presented as guerrillas who had died in combat. On September 26 a mess was held in the Church of National Devotion for the 16 young men from Soacha, who had been victim of extrajudicial executions last year. The liturgy was organized by the family members and the regional Bogotá chapter of MOVICE.
VIII Seminar on Human Rights and against impunity in Medellin
The Seminar opened on the 7th of September with a public exposition to show the work of social and popular organizations, in which experiences could be shared with a wide public. There will be also an exposition in the main park of Itagui; in which a public assembly will be held to reflect on the issue of militarization in the city and options for community resilience. At the same time a panel with Alfredo Molano, Maria Victoria Fallon and John Diego Restrepo will discuss on violations of freedom of opinion in the context of democratic security and presentat a report on the human rights situation in prisons in Medellin. During all these activities the Traveling Gallery of Victims of State Crimes will be shown and the the first documentary festival on human rights will take place, with seven films to be screened in different parts of the city. The activities are organized by the Human Rights Collective Seeds of Freedom (CODEHSEL), the Network of Community Organizations (ROC), the Municipal Committee of Human Rights, the Corporation Itagüí New People, the Interdisciplinary Group for Human Rights (GIDH) Kavilando, Sintraisa, Collective People of the Corn and the Association of Teachers of Antioquia (Adida).
Verification mission on Human Rights Violations in the town of Sabana de Torres (Santander)
The mission was realized on the 26th of September with the participation of ASOGRAS, FENSUAGRO Unitary Trade Union Federation, Regional Corporation for the defense of human rights CREDHOS, Juridical Corporation Yira Castro, CPDH, FCSPP, Corporation Compromiso, Farmers Associaction of the Valle del Río Cimitarra ACVC, Claretian Corporation Norman Perez Bello, ASODESAMUBA, Pax Christi International, Agencia Prensa Rural, Seminario Voz, CAHUCOPANA, Bloque Unidad Sindical, Federation of University Students, MOVICE, Regional Association of Victims ASORVIM. Read final statement: http://prensarural.org/spip/spip.php?article2958
Statement of Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders as she concludes her visit to Colombia
“From 7 to 18 September 2009, I carried out a fact-finding mission to assess the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia, and traveled to Bogotá, Barranquilla (Atlantico), Medellín (Antioquia), Cali (Valle del Cauca) and Arauca (Arauca). I met with the President, the Vice-President and other senior officials from the executive. (…) I met as well with members of the diplomatic community and United Nations agencies in the capital. Finally, throughout my mission, I met a wide and diverse segment of the Colombian civil society. (…) While I acknowledge the (…) efforts of the Government to improve the situation of human rights defenders, much remains to be done to ensure a safe and conducive environment for human rights defenders. From what I have seen and heard over the past 12 days, I can conclude that patterns of harassment and persecution against human rights defenders, and often their families, continue to exist in Colombia. Journalists, trade unionists, magistrates, lawyers, student and youth activists, women defenders, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, and LGBT activists have been killed, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared, threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, judicially harassed, under surveillance, forcibly displaced, forced into exile, or their offices have been raided and their files stolen, because of their legitimate work in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms. Some of these violations are allegedly to be attributed to guerillas, new illegal armed groups and paramilitary groups which human rights defenders say have not been dismantled, and the Government bears the responsibility to denounce and thoroughly investigate these violations and prosecute the perpetrators. However, according to several sources, law enforcement authorities have committed violations against human rights defenders too, or have shown complaisance with violations committed by private actors against defenders.9 Read the whole statement:
Letter from the humanitarian areas and areas of biodiversity to Eduardo Pizarro, director of the CNRR10
The Association of Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones from Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó wrote a pbulic letter addressed to Eduardo Pizarro León Gómez, director of the CNRR on the grounds that "the CNRR intends to develop within our communities and our territory work for Historical Memory, in which they want us to participate in the search for truth, justice and reparation, as well as administrative compensation, organizational strengthening and recognition of the victims." In the letter, the Association has 7 points in explaining it's refusal to participate in this initiative, including that "the CNRR's doesn't recognize our decission as part of MOVICE, to not be part of mechanisms that have been created under Law 975 in which the creation of paramilitary stuctures are not recognized as part of a state strategy." Read full letter: http://justiciaypazcolombia.com/Carta-de-zonas-humanitarias-y
Public Letter by MOVICE against the constitutional referendum for presidencial re-election11
MOVICE opposes publicly against the approval of the referendum for a constitutional reform to allow the second reelection of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. It demands the Constitutional Court to realize a rigorous and ethical review of the Constitution, as to cancel the referendum as a government project. MOVICE also demands that the promotors of the referendum are brought to trial and convicted for incurring in the buying of votes and not only convict those who agreed to purchase votes.
MOVICE has started a national and international campaign against the presidential reelection 2009. The rejection of this proposal is based mainly on five aspects that can be read at: http://www.movimientodevictimas.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=412&Itemid=1
Over 6.5 million British workers say that the Colombian government is responsable for human rights violations12
A resolution adopted at the national congress of the TUC (the British trade union representing 6.5 million workers) states that President Uribe's administration is responsable for the violence in Colombia and therefore confirmed the TUC's opposition to the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia and military aid to Colombia. It was also agreed that the TUC will call on the British government to demand it to denounc the status of political prisoners in Colombian jails.
Indigenous organizations make an urgent call to stop the free trade agreement between Colombia and Suiza13
Switzerland is being contradictory with its cooperation policy, since it has been giving the highest priority to the interests of their transnational corporations operating in Colombia, such as Nestle, Glencore and Xstrata, companies lacking any consideration for promoting socio-environmental damage in the territories where they have important interests based on mining, agriculture, biofuels, biodiversity, among others. In this regard, the FTA would be particularly facilitating and increasing the abuses committed by these companies in relation to indigenous peoples, peasant communities and afrodescendents. (…) The Swiss Congress ignored the ethical voices represented in a written request last May by a coalition of rural, religious, environmental and development NGO's, which requested a moratorium against the decision to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia, until there is a respect to the right to life of unionists, the killing and displacement of indigenous and Afro-Colombians is stopped, crimes are investigated and punished in order to end impunity, respect for core labor standards of the ILO exist and illegally acquired territories are returned to their owners.
Additionally the NGO's requested a study on the impacts that a bilateral free trade might bring for the situation of human rights in Colombia, including a discussion of the economic social and cultural rights.
Read full statement: http://notiwayuu.blogspot.com/2009/09/hacen-llamado-urgente-para-detener.html
Former DAS director Jorge Noguera brought to trial14
The General Attorney of the Nation Dr. Mario Iguarán Arana recently acknowledged Jorge Noguera's criminal responsibility in the killings of trade unionists, human rights advocates, and politicians who denounced the pact between the paramilitaries and the Colombian political class. Iguarán also recognized that the DAS under Noguera's administration had been at the service of paramilitaries, as had been explicitly requested by the representatives of the civil party lawyers of the lawyers collective "José Alvear Restrepo". Jorge Noguera is a former DAS director and right hand of the President, who had been consul at the diplomatic post in Milán (Italy).
Unfortunately, the representative of the Procuraduría asked the preclusion of the investigation in connection with the killings, not considerring the abundant existing evidence of guilt against Noguera.
Miguel Angel Bobadilla of Fensuagro released15
Miguel Angel Bobadilla, member of the Executive Committee of the agricultural trade union federation (FENSUAGRO) and leader of the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) was released recently from prison. In an act of public recognition in Bogota he expressed his gratitude for the tremendous solidarity received from national and international organizations and invited everyone to continue the struggle for the liberation of all political prisoners.