Read the February 2010 informative Bulletin.
Threats and attempted murder against members of the MOVICE Sucre Chapter (1)
On February 5, 2010 in the evening hours, spokeswoman of the MOVICE Chapter Sucre, Ingrid Vergara, was attending a meeting together with a close friend. Her friend has a very similar appearance to Ingrid and that day both were almost equally dressed. The friend left the meeting and took a motorcycle. After several minutes the driver told the woman to place her purse on her legs, since two men on a motorcycle had been following them. At that very moment the green colored Yahama motorcycle without licence plates and with two men who were wearing their helmets accelerated and approached them from behind. The man on the back of the motorcycle pulled out a gun and pointed it to Ingrid's friend. When the man recognized the woman's face, he covered his weapon and the motorcycle left. It should be noted that earlier that day Ingrid Vergara and her friend had presented a right of petition of MOVICE's spokesman Ivan Cepeda, asking the governor of Sucre to resign for his alleged links with paramilitaries and to remove the photos in the Departmental Governor's Office of politicians related to the paramilitary strategy.
Political and judicial persecution against the Peasant Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT) (2)
Since February 6, 2010 seventeen peasants, famers and community leaders all recognized by the community as people of good will, have been investigated, captured and presented to the national media by the Colombian state for their alleged responsability in acts of terrorism, rebellion and criminal conspiracy. This judicial and media set-up preocupies ASCAMCAT and national and international social organizations and human rights defenders. Added to this, ASCAMCAT received information stating that the organization's legal representative, José del Carmen Abril Abril and Jhony Feldred Abril Salcedo, head of the Humanitarian Refugee Camp since 2009, are part of a list of 68 persons with an arrest warrant and figure within the same process of the 17 persons arrested and accused of terrorism, rebellion, conspiracy to commit aggravated attempt of murder, drug trafficking and the financing of terrorist groups.
Two agro-miners from the South of Bolivar assasinated (3)
On February 10, 2010 around 7 am the brothers Omar Alonso and José de Jesús Restrepo, respectively 26 and 40 years old, agro-miners both of them members of FEDEAGROMISBOL and Omar Alonso being Chairman of the Communal Action Council of the village of El Dorado and treasurer of the Agro-Mining Association of the village of El Dorado (municipality of Monte Cristo), left for Caucasia (Antioquia) in order to buy some parts for a car of their property. They reached Nechi at about 10 am on the same day and continued their journey to Caucasia. According to reports from local inhabitants, the brothers were approached by an armed group at 20 minutes from the township of Nechi and taken to an unknown destination. Some versions identified as responsibles, members of paramilitary forces operating in the region. Between the 12th and 13th of February both men were found dead in the Cauca river with visible signs of torture.
Lawyer of the Juridical Corporation Liberty (CJL) victim of death threats (4)
On February 9, the lawyer Gongora Arango was informed on the existence of a plan to assassinate him, having members of a criminal organization established in Medellin already contracted to execture this plan. This threat arises directly from the work of defending human rights and representing victims of state crimes, a work Mr. Gongora Arango has been realizing for over a decade. In the past, Gongora Arango had been linked to judicial processes, in which he had been unfairly accused of the crime of rebellion. Currently Mr. Gongora Arango is representing a group of victims of extrajudicial killings involving several soldiers from the army's Fourth Brigade, based in Medellín. Similarly, on many occasions Mr. Gongora Arango requested the General Prosecutor's Office to investigate the retired Army general and current ambassador of Colombia in the Dominican Republic, Mario Montoya and former police General Leonardo Gallego, because of their alleged relations with former paramilitary leader "Don Berna”, during the military Operation Orion. At the same time several members of the Corporation have been monitored in recent months. "There have been a series of strange circumstances around our office. These are facts that we did not want to make public, but now, given the gravity of the situation we are forced to handle this at the highest level" said Adriana Arboleda, member of CJL.
False Positive by the National Police against bodyguard of Human Rights Organisation Sembrar (5)
On February 10, 2010 Mr. Horacio Barrera Puerta was illegally and arbitrarily detained by the National Police. Mr. Barrera Puerta is a bodyguard assigned by the DAS as part of the protection scheme of the Corporation Sembrar since April 2002. The judicial procedure and the charges against Horacio Gate are based on statements prepared by members of the National Police, using their consideration of "suspected" as an argument to stop the vehicle and charge its occupants of unlawful possession of weapons, murder and attempted murder. On February 10, just around 4:30 pm, Mr. Barrera Puerta was presented before a judge of guarantees. At the end of the hearing, the lawyer Jorge Molano, the president of the Corporation Sembrar Zoraida Hernandez, Jairo Enriquez treasurer of Sembrar and other members of the Corporation were photographed and intimidated by members of the National Police who were present during the hearing.
Human rights violations continue in Eastern Antioquia by members of the IV Brigade (6)
Farmers from the villages of La Cristalina, El Porvenir, El Roblal, El Cocuyo and El Retiro (Eastern Antioquia) reported violations of their fundamental rights by members of the Mechanized Cavalry Group No4 Juan del Corral "(GMJCO) attached to the Fourth Army Brigade. Soldiers who are accompanied by four demobilized members of ilegal armed groups, have been planting land mines and weapons in the territories of the communities of the Cañon del Melcocho, in order to obtain privileges and benefits as a result of the alleged findings. This practice violates human rights and international humanitarian law and sets a new form of "false positives" carried out by military forces in their effort to show supposed results and effectiveness. (…) This series of events has led to the stigmatization of the communities of Cañon del Melcocho as members or collaborators of the guerrilla and organized crime, jeopardizing the life and physical integrity of each of the inhabitants in the region.
The Colombian Association of University Students ACEU, denounced the persecution, arbitrary detention and subsequent deportation of the delegation of Swedish students by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS) (7)
On 23 February in the evening in the city of Santa Marta, three delegates of the Colombian Network in Sweden who were visiting the country to inform themselves on the developments in education policy and the violations of Human Rights at the Colombian University, were arbitrarily detained and deported by the Department of Administrative Security of Santa Marta. Since the start of their visit. the committee had been facing difficulties with establishing communication with representatives of local and departmental governments.
Public Hearing in the Coffee Region (Eje Cafetero)
On February 4 a public hearing convened by the Commissions of Peace and Human Rights of the Senate took place with the participations of 800 people of several civil society initiatives. The hearing was summoned by the Colombian Senate and the Regional Round-Table for Human Rights Organizations.
II National Encounter of Victims of Anti-Union Violence
On 4 and 5 February the II National Encounter of Victims of Violence against unionists took place in Medellín with the presence of about 60 relatives of murdered trade unionists, and a similar number of delegates from trade unions and human rights organisations. The activity was summoned by the CUT, National Union School, Lawyer's Colective José Alvear Restrepo, Colombian Commission of Jurists, CINEP, Hij@s Colombia, Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH) and MOVICE
Read the statement in Spanish: http://www.csa-csi.org/content/view/5754/258/
Soacha mothers behind the bars of impunity
On February 15, mothers of the victims of extrajudicial executions from Soacha refused to be used by President Uribe for his re-election campaign. Since two years they have been demanded to be heard, but only now, several months before the elections and the court ruling of a possible re-election Uribe invited the mothers to a personal reunion. Several of the mothers refused to assist to the meeting. See video:
Campaign Memory against Silence and Impunity
Between the 19th and the 22th of February 2010 the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado commemorated the massacre of eight people by the Colombian army 5 years ago. Present were delegates from the Antioquía Chapter MOVICE, Red Juvenil, CINEP and various national and international human rights organisations.
First Regional Forum for the respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Right in the south of the country
On February 27 the first regional forum on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law was held in Union Peneya (Caquetá). The forum was held as a response to the intensification of the armed conflict in the southern part of the country and as a result of indiscriminate aerial spraying, which is affecting the wildlife, the ecosystem of the Amazon and manual eradication of illicit crops and the continued violation of Human Rights and the infriction of international humanitarian law. The forum was organized by the Social and Farmer Organizations of Union Peneya and the Association of Communal Action Councils of Cartagena del Chaira.
Commemorations in Barrancabermeja
On February 27 ASORVIMM commemorated the victims of the massacre of the 28th of January 1999 and the massacre of the 28th of February 1999 with a mass and a commemorative act.
Silence and impunity in state crimes against the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado
On the 4th and 5th of February in the city of Medellin a hearing was held against 10 soldiers for their alleged responsability in the slaughter of 8 people in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, which occurred on the 21st and 22st of February 2005. The military brought to trial were assigned to the Velez Battalion of the 17th Brigade of the National Army based in Carepa (Antioquia). For 13 years this same military brigade has tried to destroy the peace community combining massacres, disappearances, extortion, massive forced displacement, rape, destruction of homes and crops, bombings of civilian populations, creation of paramilitary structures, the creation of false judicial processes and other crimes (more than 750 crimes reported). So far, the hearings have been characterized by intimidation, threats and pressures.
Human Rights Watch presents report on the Paramilitaries' Heirs
The emergence of the successor groups was predictable, Human Rights Watch said, largely due to the Colombian government's failure to dismantle the paramilitary coalition's criminal networks during the demobilization process, between 2003 and 2006. The government's inadequate implementation of the demobilizations also allowed paramilitaries to recruit civilians to pose as paramilitaries for the demobilization, while keeping portions of their membership active. (…) The report also expresses concern over alleged toleration of successor groups' activities by some state officials and government security forces.
Read the report: http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/02/03/paramilitaries-heirs
Congressman Johnson's statement on intimidation of Colombian activist Martha Giraldo (8)
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) dispatched Latin American affairs adviser Sascha Thompson to Colombia February 8-15 to participate in an international pre-electoral observation mission sponsored by the California-based non-governmental organization Global Exchange. Congressman Johnson's staffer, Ms. Thompson, traveled to the Valle del Cauca region. One group with which Ms. Thompson met was the Valle de Cauca chapter of MOVICE, a group of women whose family members were victims of extrajudicial executions. Ms. Giraldo has been vocal in pursuit of justice for her father's death and subject to regular harassment by paramilitaries in the Valle de Cauca region. She was threatened once again on Monday, February 16, according to a report filed before the Colombian attorney general's office. Many other family members of victims of extrajudicial executions have received similar threats. Furthermore, the vast majority of these cases, including the case of Martha's father, remain uninvestigated, contributing to the impunity with which armed groups operate in Colombia. Upon learning of the threats of violence against Ms. Giraldo, Congressman Johnson issued the following statement: "I am deeply concerned by reports of threats against Ms. Giraldo's life,particularly given their proximity to the meeting my staff member, Sascha Thompson, had with Martha and other family members of extrajudicial execution victims in Valle de Cauca."
Noguera revealed that he delivered reports on trade union activities to President Uribe (9)
Former Director of the DAS Jorge Noguera, during trial, revealed that the President of the Republic, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, had received permanently regular reports on trade union activities through the country by the DAS. Noguera clarified that such intelligence reports were meant to anticipate possible changes in the public order, which was a normal activity within the security agency. Likewise, he admitted that the information the DAS had collected on professor Alfredo Correa de Andreis, was nurtured by information collected by the Armed Forces about alleged illegal activities. However, he dismissed that the assasination of the professor was fundamented by the intelligence realized by the DAS, in which the professor was accused of offering academic indoctrination and training to the FARC.
Visit by the VI Delegation from Asturia (Spain) to verify the human rights situation in Colombia
The delegation visited between the 29th of January and 12th of February the departments of Antioquía, Caquetá, Cauca, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Putumayo, Sur de Bolivar and Bogotá. Read the first conclusions in spanish:
Constitutional Court ruling on the referendum (10)
On the 26th of February 2010 the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Colombia, administering justice as mandated by the Constitution, decided to declare unconstitutional in its entirety law 1354 of 2009, which calls for a constitutional referendum and submits to the peoples will a constitutional reform. (…) The irregularities which occurred during the citizens' initiative and during the legislative process that culminated in law 1354 of 2009, involve the lack of important constitutional principles and procedure formalities prescribed by the Constitution and the law, as a requisite for an popular initiative amending the Constitution. These defects were not mere procedural irregularities but substantial violations of the democratic principle.
Detention Mario Uribe Escobar (11)
The arrest took place in Medellin after the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant against the president's cousin, former senator Mario Uribe Escobar, for his alleged ties to Salvatore Mancuso, who commanded the Northern Block of the AUC. On February 24, 2010 Mario Uribe Escobar was brought to La Picota jail in Bogota, and detained in the wing of the "para-politicians”. Uribe Escobar, founder of the political party “Colombia Democrática”, was reelected as senator in 1998 and became President of the Senate between 2000 and 2001. In 2002, on behalf of the same movement he was reelected to the Senate from which he supported the candidacy of his cousin to the presidency.
Sentence of 40 years for Alvaro Garcia Romero (12)
Former Congressman Álvaro García Romero, will go down in history as the first member of parliament sentenced to 40 years in prison for his responsability in the formation of paramilitary groups in Sucre, diverting public money to fund them, being one of the participants in the bloody raid of Macayepo and for the murder of a voting jury in San Onofre (Sucre). The court evidenced the bloody triangle formed by farmer Joaquin Garcia, former governor Salvador Arana and 'fat' Garcia, who used to gather at the farm in Los Angeles, La 70 and El Palmar. At El Palmar, which has functioned as the torture center of paramilitary leader alias “Cadena, the Public Prosecutor has documented more than 500 mass graves.
1 MOVICE 08/02/2010
2 ASCAMCAT 26/02/2010
3 Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar 13/01/2010
4 Instituto de Capacitación Popular 12/02/2010
5 Sembrar 11/02/2010
6 Corporación Jurídica Libertad 26/02/2010
7 ACEU 23/02/2010
8 Congresista Estadounidense Johnson 27/02/2010
9 El Espectador 02/02/2010
10 No 9 Comunicado de la Corte Constitucional 26/2/2010
11 ”Recluido en la Picota el ex congresista Mario Uribe” El Espectador 24/2/2010
12 ”Álvaro Garcia Romero, el mecenas de los 'paras'” El Espectador 23/2/2010