Read the January 2010 informative Bulletin.
Family member of ASOGRAS' president arrested1
On January 1st, 2010 the son of the president of the Agrarian Association of Santander (ASOGRAS), which is a sub-subsidiary of FENSUAGRO, was arrested together with Moises Hasbon Hernandez, both 20 years of age. When the two young men passed through the Provence neighbourhood of Bucaramanga they were caught in the middle of a shooting. Feeling that their lifes were in danger they ran away, but blocks later they were captured by members of the Police belonging to the CAI Mutis, and accused of being the responsibles of the shooting, which had left several people injured. Subsequently Moises was tortured by members of the National Police, violating his rights as a detainee. It is believed that both men were victims of a possible attack against the son of Cesar Tamayo, president of ASOGRAS, who has been victim in several oportunities of attacks against his life.
Rector of the Atlantic University criminalizes the right to social protest and threatens the lives and personal security of student leaders.2
At the end of 2009, the Atlantic University started legal proceedings through the Attorney General's Office – Sectional Barranquilla, against the following students: Henry Molina Garcia, Jose Perez Ariza, Jose Tomas Ortega Moya, Victoria Cañas Gonzalez, Fabian Enrique Escobar Duran, Fernando Miguel Martes Ortega, Cristobal Colón Marin and the informal worker in this institution Henry Barrios Diaz. The charges against these people included "Conspiracy", "Threats", "Terrorism," "Panic", "Aggravated Theft", "Property Damage" and" Violations in the Workplace", related to acts allegedly occurred during a student protest held on the 29th of October 2009, in which the financial deficits of the university were denounced. Within the judicial process the students are accused of these crimes, using alleged evidence based on the "reports" of private security personnel, "public petitions of information" submitted by university students and "photos" and "videos" in which students in several university facilities are registered (…) On the 30th of December 2009 the Atlantic University published the edition of the 16th Institucional Bulletin "Atlantic University in March". In this newsletter the full text of the charges was published, arbitrarily providing personal information to the general public.
Threats against the president of the Teachers' Union Riseralda (SER)3
The Round Table of Social Organizations and Human Rights Defenders in the Eje Cafetero region, the Board of the Risaralda Teachers' Union, the Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Node of the Eje Cafetero, Antioquia and Choco and the Movement of Victims of State Crimes Chapter Risaralda denounced threats against the President of the SER, Maria Eugenia Ocampo Londoño on the 29th of January 2010. Maria Eugenia received a phone call in which she was threatened and said to be a guerrilla son of a bitch. This threat takes place on the eve of the realization of two major events in the region such as the Public Hearing with the Peace Comision of the National Congress on the 4th of February, in which victims will be exposing and giving testimonies of human rights violations in the region. At the same time the national meeting of trade unions affiliated to the CUT is taking place during the 4th,5th and 6th of February in the city of Medellin, in which one of the main objectives will be to expose the violence against trade union leaders.
Set-up on the Internet threatens the lives of members of academic organizations and youth in Medellin4
On 18 and 19 January, Facebook accounts were created using false information placing at risk the physical integrity of:
– Edwin Villamil Mauricio Garzon, member of the National University Federation – Commisions (FUN-Comisiones), member of the the Municipal Executive Committee of the Polo Democrático Alternativo (PDA) in Medellin and member of the national board of the FUN-Commision.
– Juan Camilo Puerta Velasquez, member of the Colombian Communist Youth (JUCO) and member of the Municipal Executive Committee of the PDA in Medellin.
– Gina Alzrate Soto, member of the JUCO and ASFADDES.
– Ana Castaneda, student at the Universidad Nacional of Medellín
– Rodrigo Andres Alvarez Galindez, member of the Central Executive Committee of the JUCO and member of the national board of the PDA.
In the accounts opened on behalf of these people, images of FARC commander Manuel Marulanda, personal photos and messages are used to present these people as members of the FARC and the Clandestine Colombian Communist Party (PC3).
Violation of Human Rights and International Humanitaria Right in in the Upper Ariari (Municipality of El Castillo, Meta)5
The multiple violations that have occurred in the past six months in the region clearly show the reactivation of paramilitary groups. These incidents occurred amid strong and permanent military operations of the 21st Military Battalion Vargas and the Engineers Battalion N°7. At the same time in the village of El Castillo police forces have been carrying out dubious actions supposedly to maintain public order, such as taking pictures of peasants who arrive from the surrounding villages to El Castillo, a situation that demonstrates the continuation of the systematic persecution against leaders and residents in the region.
Contours of death in the Bajo Atrato region and Urabá6
On the 18th of December 2009, minutes outside of the urban area of Carmen del Darién (Chocó), the afrocolombian leaders Manuel Moya Lara and Graciano Blandon, along with the son of the latter, were killed. Within hours, several Internet networks and a renowned circle of columnists, businessmen, agents and former agents of the Government very close to President Uribe, retired members of the National Army, state officials and a broad paramilitary network, agreed to start a campaign of defamation and slander against the undersigned of this release. The centerpiece of this campaign was aimed at attributing direct or mediated responsibility in this crime to several human rights defenders, to delegitimize the work of this human rights defenders with several communities in the lower Atrato region and Urabá and to unify media, judicial and military strategies to prevent in the near future any presence or support in the region of these organizations.
Read full statement:
On the 13th of January the Intereclesiastical Commission of Justice and Peace was informed that at around 4:00 pm, 42 year old Argenita Diaz, second board member of the Mayor Council of the Curvaradó river basin, was killed in a paramilitary-type operation when he was heading from Mutatá to his house in the village of Llano Rico, Curvaradó.7
Presentation of the report "Without truth and without peace"
Five years after the government of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has passed Law 975, known as the 'Justice and Peace' law, the MOVICE presents an assessment of the application of the paramilitary demobilization process and the official efforts to legalize and legitimate paramilitarism in Colombian society.
Read the full report: http://www.movimientodevictimas.org/images/stories/proteccion/juridica_baja.pdf
The Ethical Commission: “We demand inmediate action by the Colombian government”8
The Ethical Commission reiterates that according to the information they have received during their visits to Colombia, there is lack of guarantees to accomplish the right to truth. The right to memory supposes a minimum of guarantees, that at this moment do not exist. After its last visit to Colombia in November to the Lower Atrato and Magdalena region, the Cauca department and the Uraba region, they wrote the following statement:
Two members of the Anti-Riot Police (ESMAD) dismissed for their responsibility in the death of Nicolas Neira9
Dismissed and disqualified for ten years were two agents of the Mobile Riot Squad of Bogota (ESMAD) for their responsability in the death of 15 year old Nicolás Neira, who died because of the blows received by the ESMAD during the 1st of May protests in 2005. The General Attorney stated that the agents had violated their duties by failing to protect the life and physical integrity of the demonstrators and, despite knowledge of their powers, had allowed Nicolas Neira to be the subject of severe blows. Father Yuri Neira, member of the Bogota Chapter of the MOVICE, has been the victim of multiple attacks in his struggle for truth, justice and reparation.
Possible releasement of soldiers involved in the massacre of 2005 in the peace community of San José de Apartadó10
The lawyers that represent the victims of the massacre that occured in the peace community of San Jose de Apartado in February 2005, submitted on January 21st 2010 before the Supreme Judicial Council a petition, in which they demand an urgent action, such as the assignment of a Judge that can speed up the process, in order to prevent a colonel and nine other soldiers involved in the process for their alleged responsibility in the massacre, to be released because of the expiration of the legal terms.
The ten soldiers could be released on 17 February 2010, because on that date they will have completed one year since they were called in the process, without the formal initiation of the public hearing . In the document, the lawyer Jorge Eliecer Molano and former mayor of Apartado, Gloria Cuartas, reported to the Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council, that in December 2009 the hearings in the trial in Medellin were suspended because of the strange loss of nine files, including significant testimonies of military officers and the statements made by the extradited paramilitary leader Evert Veloza Garcia, alias "HH".
Colombia to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights for murder of Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas11
The Interamerican Court of Human Rights held a public hearing in the judicial case “Cepeda Vargas vs Colombia” on the 26th and 27th of January, at its headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica. The case of Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas is of great importance in Colombia as it is a crime against humanity and this is the first time that the murder of a Colombian political leader reaches the Interamerican Court. His death occurred in the context of the extermination of thousands of members, leaders and supporters of the political party Patriotic Union (UP), since its foundation in 1985.
Report on the visit of UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples in Colombia12
The report shows that the situation of indigenous people is exacerbated and intensified because of the internal armed conflict affecting the country. "I received information about an extremely worrying situation of violence and other crimes against indigenous people, as well as forced displacement and confinement, which threatens the physical and cultural survival of indigenous people of the country," said Professor Anaya. (…) Despite the significant level of attention from the State of Colombia to indigenous issues, the report reveals that there are still big challenges facing the Government to meet its obligations to effectively protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, including in the areas of rights to land and to natural resources and in relation to prior consultation with indigenous peoples in decisions affecting them. At the same time, there are significant gaps in the overall effective enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous people in comparison with the average general population.
According to paramilitary leader “El Alemán” twelve paramilitaries operated as guides in the military Operation “Genesis”13
Fredy Rendón Herrera aka 'El Alemán' recognized that paramilitary commander Carlos Castaño Gil had ordered the commanders of the Chocó Block of the ACCU to dispose twelve of its men to form part of the Special Army Forces that realized their military operation “Operation Genesis“ in February 1997 in the Choco department supposedly against the FARC's Front 57. The mission was authorized by the then military garrison commander General Rito Alejo del Rio, currently detained for violations of human rights and its links with paramilitaries in Uraba. (…) According to Rendón Herrera, the ACCU also agreed with Rito Alejo del Río that military troops wouldn't block ACCU troops to move into the area that fell under Operation Genesis. The same day that the Army began to penetrate the area through its Operation Genesis, the ACCU began its so called "Operation Cacarica ', through which they wanted to expand its presence in the riverbassins of Cacarica, Salaquí, Truandó and Perancho. 'El Alemán' rejected any responsibility in the displacement of at least 4,000 peasants from this rural area to the municipalities of Turbo and Mutata, a forced displacement that has been denounced by the Intereclesiastical Commission for Justice and Peace, and which has been directly related by this human rights organisation to the expansion of palm oil crops, intensive cattle farming and wood exploitation in the area.
Released soldiers involved in crimes against humanity14
On the 7th of January 2010 17 soldiers, involved in tje extrajudicial execution of young men from Soacha were released, because legal terms had expired. On the 12th of January another 6 were released and on the 19th January another seven soldiers recovered their freedom. The defense of the military strategically had delayed the process during the process, argueing that the military personnel accused of aggravated forced disappearance, aggravated murder and aggravated criminal conspiracy, should be released by expiration of terms. This argument was supported at trial by the Attorney General's Office. According to the Regional Ombudsman of Soacha, Fernando Escobar, a total of 42 soldiers might be released of the 47 who had been arrested in the case of the extrajudicial executions of young men from Soacha.
Seven soldiers convicted for extrajudicial executions in La Guajira15
A judge from San Juan del Cesar (La Guajira) sentenced to 24 years imprisonment seven soldiers of the Military Battalion Nariño of Barranquilla , who had been accused by the prosecution of aggravated homicide, forced disappearance and misrepresentation in a public document. The facts investigated by a special prosecutor occurred on April 2nd, 2006 in the district of Guamachal, when Tavera Douglas Alberto Diaz Diaz Sarmiento Dannis and two other people who have not yet been identified, were found dead after an alleged combat. The victims had disappeared on the 28th of March of that year when they were close to the Barranquilla Universal Cemetery, where apparently two people offered them work in cotton farms of Valledupar.
Delegation of the Spanish State in a mission of Verification of the Human Rights situation in Colombia16
A mission of parliamentarians from the Spanish State composed of Jordi Pedret (PSC), Carles Campuzano (Convergencia i Unio) Francesc Canet (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), Josep Joan Nuet (Entesa Catalana), Mikel Basabe (Aralar), Inés Sabanés (Izquierda Unida ) and Maria Suarez (Eivissa pel Canvi) visited Colombia from the 23rd to the 30th of January. The visit of this delegation is taking place in the context of negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia, which is coinciding with the Spanish presidency of the European Union and the celebration in the month of May of the Summit of Heads of State of Latin America and the European Union in Madrid. In this context it is important that the Human Rights situation in Colombia is present in the Spanish and European political agenda.
Read full document with conclusions and proposals:
OIDHACO asks the UE to open an investigation into the human rights situation in Colombia17
Deeply concerned about the serious human rights situation in Colombia, Patricia Verbauwhede, OIDHACO's president has sent a letter to Caherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the European Commission, in which she requests the Commission “to open a serious and genuine investigation under the GSP+ rule, on the effective implementation by the Colombian State of the 27 conventions and treaties included in its Annex 3. In addition, we suggest that such an investigation includes consultations with civil society organisations, human rights defenders and trade union representatives who are the first victims of the current situation in Colombia.” The reports of the special rapporteurs of the UN that have visited Colombia in 2009 evidence that the general human rights situation in Colombia remains critical. The State authorities are responsible to protect human rights, nevertheless the large number of violations still existing in Colombia indicate that the State has not fulfilled its role in a satisfying way. These violations include violations perpetrated by state agents by action and omission. Some efforts have been made but with very poor results. Furthermore, most of the recommendations issued by the United Nations human rights bodies and their Office in Colombia have not been implemented in a satisfactory way.
1 “Continúa la persecución contra dirigente agrario Cesar Augusto Tamayo y su família.” ASOGRAS 04/01/2010
2 Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios, Asociación Colombiana de Estudiantes Universitarios y JUCO 15/01/2010
3 “La junta directiva del Sindicato de Educadores de Riseralda hace denuncia sobre amenaza de que ha sido víctima la presidenta del SER Maria Eugenia Londoño”, CPDH 29/01/2010
4 “Montaje en Internet que pone en riesgo la vida de un integrante de la Federación universitaria Nacional-Comisiones-MODEP” FUN-Comisiones-MODEP 20/01/2010 y “Montaje en Internet que pone riesgo la vida de Militantes de la Juventud Comunista Colombiana” JUCO 19/01/2010
5 Acción Urgente Sindicato de Trabajadores Agrícolas Independientes del Meta (SINTRAGRIN) 07/01/2010
6 Javier Giraldo M., S. J., Alberto Franco G., Danilo Rueda R., Abilio Peña B, Iván Cepeda Castro, Gloria Cuartas, MOVICE, Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie 27/01/2010
7 Constancia 150110 Asesinado Argenito Diaz, lider de Llano Rico Curvaradó 15/01/2010
9 “Muerte de Nicolás Neira motiva destitución de agentes del ESMAD” El Espectador 4/01/2010
10 “Posible libertad para 10 militares involucrados en masacre de San José de Apartadó” Radio Caracol 21/01/2009
11 Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo 28/01/2010
12 “Relator Especial de la ONU sobre los pueblos indígenas hace público su informe sobre si visita a Colombia en el contexto de seguimiento a las recomendaciones de su predecesor” 13/01/2010
13 Verdad Abierta 15/01/2010
14 MOVICE 13/01/2010
15 Semana 14/01/2010
16 Bogotá, 29 de enero de 2010
17 OIDHACO 29/1/2010