Boletín mensual

Bulletin 7: Fake Judicial Processes against Human Rights Defenders

ImageThe National Movement for Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) brings together victims of crimes of the state, defining victims as Colombian men and women affected by state violence. It is estimated that since the 1980s the Colombian state has been directly or indirectly responsible for around 70,000 deaths and disappearances.

In its quest for Truth, Justice and Integrated Reparation MOVICE itself has suffered continued political persecution. In a joint effort between a number of organisations and individuals we have begun the task of putting together a monthly bulletin containing information about the security situation of the movement and its members.

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The National Movement for Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) brings together victims of crimes of the state, defining victims as Colombian men and women affected by state violence. It is estimated that since the 1980s the Colombian state has been directly or indirectly responsible for around 70,000 deaths and disappearances.

In its quest for Truth, Justice and Integrated Reparation MOVICE itself has suffered continued political persecution. In a joint effort between a number of organisations and individuals we have begun the task of putting together a monthly bulletin containing information about the security situation of the movement and its members.

Persecution of MOVICE and its members

Disappearance of the president of the Committee for Community Action of the rural community la Esmeralda (El Castillo, Meta)1

On Sunday, the 15th of february at around 20:00, Alba Nelly Murillo, was disappeared near the rural communithy Caño Lindo. The community manifested that the National Army was camping next to the road that Alba Nelly had to pass on the day of her disappearance, but that Monday 16th of february they had moved their camp. The 7th of May 2008 in the rural community La Esmeralda, troops of the National Army, under the direction of Commander Baquero arrived in search for Alba Nelly. The Commander afirmed that Alba Nelly had been denouncing human rights abuses by the National Army in the village El Castillo. It should be noticed that days before the dissapearance of Alba Nelly the people in the rural community had been reunited to document human rights violations commited by the National Army and paramilitary groups.

Civil population masacred in the department of Nariño

In the first two months of 2009 the Permanent Commitee in Defense of Human Rights (CPDH) in Nariño was informed in several occasions about combats between the National Army and Guerrilla Groups, generating massive displacements. At the same time they have been informed on assasinations of civilians, presence and threats by paramilitary groups, combats by these groups and abuses commited by the National Army towards civilians. On the 4th of february 2009 the CPDH was informed about a massacre of seventeen members of the indigenous community Awá by armed men with distinctives of the FARC-EP, near the river Telembí – Quebrada La Hoja.2 Members of the communities informed that the agressiones of the FARC are efected as a retaliation after considering that the National Army had occupied the Awá's houses and because these had collaborated with the National Army. According to information by the people of the indigenous reserve, on the 5th of february there had been an armed confrontation between the FARC-EP and the National Army, in which the latter had been bombing the area, in between Bravo and the mountain Sabaleta, generating fear in the communities. On the 6th of february at around 17:00 another armed confrontation between the National Army and the FARC-EP took effect and continued until the 7th of february. As a result of all these actions various families were forced to displace within their own territory and towards Samaniego, Buenavista (Barbacoa), and Planadas Telembí, although in the area there are landmines sown by the guerrilla. At the same time, there are around 1300 people that cannot leave the area and who are confrontating hunger and diseases, with the children being specifically vulnerable.3

On the 11th of february another massacre occurred in the rural area of Samaniego. Ten members of the Awá community of Tangarial, who were heading towards this municipality, were surprised and assasinated by an armed group, without knowing uptil know the identity of the perpetrators and the names of the victims.4

Four unionists assasinated in february

– The teacher Leoncio Gutiérrez, member of the Labour Union Sutev, subdirection Toro, Valle del Cauca, was killed on the 20th of february in a hotel of the municipality.

– The teacher, Guillermo Antonio Ramírez Ramírez, member of the labour union of Belén de Umbría, Risaralda, was killed in the afternoon of the 15th of february while he was on his way to coffeecorner.

– The president of the Fisher's and Farmer's Association of Llanito, Barrancabermeja (Santander) and leader of the artesanal Fisher's association of the Magdalena Medio river, Asopesam, Luis Alberto Arango Crespo, was killed on the 12th of february, while he was working in Barrancabermeja.

– The unionist of the Agrarian Association of Santander, Asogras, Leovigildo Mejía, was disappeared on the 28th of january and a few days later found assasinated in the municipality of Sabana de Torres.5

Threats and Harrasments against the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

On the 23rd of Febrary, at around 8 :30, in the rural community la Resbalosa a member of the Peace Community and member of the internal coordination was detained for an hour in its house by members of the National Army. The militaries said he was a guerrillero, just like all the other members of that fucking Peace Community, which had to be exterminated. The members of the National Army destroyed his sugar and bean crops.

On the 24th of february, at around 10:00, in the rural community las Nieves a member of our community was arbitrarily detained by the National Army, while he was walking from the community La Esperanza to the community of La Unión. The Army asked him about Reinaldo Areiza, on which he responded that he did not know where he was. The soldiers tod hum that Reinaldo had gained himself to be assasinated; that what happened to Arturo David will happen to him, since he had opened his mouth when he had had the opportunity to live well. The member of our community responded that there was a big difference, since Arturo David, that had been a member withdrew from the community and was killed in combat. Reinaldo is a farmer and does not have to do anything with an armed group.The militaries said that all the farmers in the region were guerrilleros and that Reinaldo, although begin a farmer, had gained his assasination. Afterwards the soldiers released our member of the community.6

Attack on the life of the comunication responsable of the Association of Indigenous Communities from North Cauca) (ACIN) 7

On the 7th of february at around 15:00 two men on a motorbike arrived at the house of Gustavo Adolfo Ulcué, who is responsable for everything that has to do with the webpage of the ACIN. They asked for Gustavo and when his brother opened the door they pointed at him with a gun and entered in the house. They searched the house, entered into the room of Gustavo and took his laptop computer. When they left they told his brother to “Be happy that Gustavo wasn't here, because if we would have found him, we would have completed our work”. The last months of 2008, during the Social and Comunitarian Minga the webpage of the ACIN had been blocked and afterwards, due to an act of sabbotage the protection cables of the tranmision equipment had been pulled away, which provoked the destruction of all the technical equipment.

On the 20th of february Juan Carlos Campo, consultant and contractor since 2004 that had been working in various infrastructural proyects with the indigenous communities, was assasinated on the road between the municipality of Caldono and the rural village of Pital. According to the indigenous authorities, the police of Caldono and several people of Pital arrived a couple of minutes after the murder and found the dead body of Juan Carlos with three bullet impacts.

Asault on an office for atention of victimas in the 13th Comuna in Medellín

On the 24th of february the main office of the social workers of Madre Laura, where they work together with the Juridical Corporation Liberty (CJL) in the attention of victims of the armed conflict of the 13th comuna in Medellín, was robbed. Unknown entered the office, located in the neighbourhood Belencito, between one and two in the afternoon, while sister Rosa Cadavid, reponsable for the attention of victims, was eating outside, leaving the office alone. The thieves only took the harddisk, which was sustracted from a computer, and the cellphone of the sister. On the harddisk there was confidencial information of hundreds of victims attented by the CJL. Adriana Arboleda, member of CJL thinks that the robbery is related to the juridical process that victims of the 13th comuna have started against the paramilitary commander Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano, alias don Berna, who had been extradicted to the United States in may 2008. The process has taken an important step forward after a judge in the US received the lawyers that are representing the mother, who's son was disappeared in 2002 by paramilitaries of the Cacique Nutibara block of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Auc).8

Threats in Bucaramanga

On the 2nd of february an envelop arrived at the regional office of the Association of Families of Detained and Disappeared (ASFADDES). The envelop contained a threat directed to all the organisations that had been participating the 23rd of january 2009 in a an act of Memory and Dignification, when five bodies of the 25 people assasinated and disappeared in Barrancambermeja on the 16th of may 1998, were handed over by the DAS to their families. The organisation that received the threat are ASFADDES, the Solidarity Committee with Political Prissioners, Asapaz, Popular Women Organisation (OFP), Workers' Trade Union of the Oil Industry (USO), Workers' Central Union (CUT) and the Corporation Guayacán. 9

On the 15th of february a threat was sent by e-mail to union organisations, human rights defenders and teachers of Bucaramanga. The e-mail was signed by the “New Generation of Black Eagles”, declaring as military objetive, with names and surnames, student representatives, teachers, unionists of the University and human rights defenders of the Industrial University of Santander (UIS). Who signs the e-mail say to be a group of students in the University, that belonged to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).10

Threats and harrasments in the farm “La Alemania” (Sucre)

The farm “El Alemania” is a community property that belongs to 52 families in the Montes de Maria region. The property was recognized by the Colombian Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCORA) in 1997. A few months after the recognition paramilitary operation started in the region and in 2000 they forced the people to leave their land . Rogelio Martínez has returned a little less than two years ago to the farm “La Alemania” and now he is a farmer's leader and human rights defender that works with the MOVICE. During february 2009 he received threats, harrasments and finger pointing by paramilitary structures and demobilised paramilitaries, who say that he is reponsable for the returning of farmers to “La Alemania” and to be a collaborator of the guerrilla, since he works for the MOVICE. The Ethical Comission has visited the farm “La Alemania” in several occasions.

Raid on the main office of the Farmers' Association of Arauca (ACA) and arbitrary detention

On the 9th of february at 9:00 a.m. six armed men, entered the main office of the Farmers' Association of Arauca, scaring the three women that were present at that very moment in the office. One of the women demanded the men to identify themselves and the reasons for the raid. One of the men idenitified himself as a member of the National Police, but only showed his Personal Identiy Card. He manifested that their had been a robbery in the house behind the office and they had received information that the thieves were hiding in the office. They searched the office and went to the roof with their guns pulled, staying their for over an hour.

On the 17th of february, at around 14:00, troops of the National Army that operate in the rural area of the municipality of Tame (Arauca), arrived at the rural community Holanda. They directed themselves to the house of the farmer Benjamín Bermúdez, who was detained arbitrary, since they did not have a order to capture him or any other direct reason. Benjamín Bermúdez is afiliated to the Farmers' Association of Arauca, that belongs to Fensuagro, the Workers' Central Union (CUT) and Vía Campesina.11

Finger Pointing by President Uribe

On the 7th of february in the city of Villavicencio president Uribe making a clear reference to the unilateral liberations realised by the FARC-EP, mentioned an “Intelectual Block of the FARC”, that “continously speakes about human rights, only to spread fear under our soldiers and policemen”. He insisted in that “we cannot permit that they, with their stories of peace and their permanent accusations against the Armed Forces, paralise our political strategy of “Democratic Security”. It preoccupies that these declarations come after the efforts of “Colombians for Peace” that accumulated in the unilateral liberation.12

Activities

Campaign for the elimination of all forms of Violence against Women and the Earth.

Between the 5th of the 8th of March 2009 in the context of International Women's Day, the 2nd Tour through Wounmainkat – Tour through our land, will be realised, starting in the Wayuu's Women's House in the Guajira Deparment and finishing in the state of Zulia (Venezuela). The main objective of the Tour is to elaborate a collective document, in which the problems that Wayuus and especially the Wayuu women are facing are recorded. The political demands refer to three specific themes: The impact of the presence of armed forces, leaving 250 Wayuu assasinated and disapeared in these last years as well as thousands of other displaced in Venezuela and other parts of Colombia; economical megaproyects in indigenous territories and its consequences, which have destroyed Wayuu communities; the strenghtening of organisational alliances between the Wayuu and other indigenous and non-indigenous people with the objective to transcend binational and international borders and to consolidate the autonomy of indigenous people in their territories. More Information: http://www.notiwayuu.blogspot.com/

The 6th of March 2009, National Event “False Positives are States Crime”

The event will be held in the city of Bogotá the 5th ,6th and 7th of march. The event has three important moments. The first one is a meeting of family members of victims of Extrajudicial Executions, presented as “False Positives”, through a workshop where experiences on justice, memory and truth will be exchanged. The second moment will be the collective construction of mecanisms of exigibility and the afirmation of the rights to truth and justice, using the experiences of the people present and at the same time impulse the organisation of those family members that are not organised yet. The third moment will be the 6th of march at 10:00 in a public event in front of the Ministery of Defense and walking from there towards the “bunker” of the General Attorney. At 19:00 that same day at the central square of Bogota the “night of white blankets” will be realised. The objectives of this event “False Positives are State Crimes” is to show the impact of these type of crimes to Colombian society and the rest of the world and the right of a society to demand that these crimes don't repeat. For this reason there are several simultaneous acts in Colombia and other parts of the world on the 6th of March. More information: www.movimientodevictimas.org or stnacional@movimientodevictimas.org

Publications by MOVICE

On the 4th of february two publication written by MOVICE were presented. “The Protection of Victims of State Crimes – Department Sucre” and “Integral Politics for Action in Human Rights in Colombia”. The Lawyer's Collective Luis Carlos Pérez also publicized two reports “Report on the Situation of Victims' Rights between 1999-2009 in the North of Santander” and “Report on Extrajudicial Executions in the Department North of Santander.” PDF versions in Spanish can be found on the webpage of MOVICE, www.movimientodevictimas.org

Presentation in Bogotá of the report by Human Rights First on prosecutions of human rights defenders in Colombia.

The report, “Baseless prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia: In the Dock and Under the Gun”, which was presented on the 24th of february 2009, documents 32 recent cases of unfounded prosecutions against defenders.

For the first time this report show the systematic character of this problem and it includes a detailed analysis of the arguments of the legal defense, resolutions of the attorney and the sentences. Between the cases presented figure those of the Technical Secretary of the MOVICE in Sucre Carmelo Agámez and the regional president of CPDH in Arauca Martin Sandoval, both detained up till now. At the same time the report makes recomendations to Colombian and United States authorities. Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights defenders. Dozens of human rights defenders are assasinated every year, including unionists, lawyers, indigenous leaders, members of NGO's and community and religious leaders. To read the report:

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pdf/090211-HRD-colombia-eng.pdf

The Observatory for the Protecion of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programm of the International Federation for Human Rights and the World Organisation Agains Torture sent a letter to the Colombian authorities to express their preocupation regarding the imprisonment of Marin Sandoval, since the 4th of November 2008 up till today. http://www.fidh.org/spip.php?article6364 (Spanish)

Victims' Rights

The Farmer's Associacion of the Valley of Cimitarra (ACVC): Resisting with Dignity

Since 2005 the ACVC has confronted a political and judicial persecution which put into jail six of it's leaders. Four of the leaders were released and absolved of their charges, since the acusations were based on false inteligence reports and testimonies by paid witnesses. Nonetheless Andrés Gil and Miguel González Huepa are still imprissioned on the basis of the same accusations, violating in this way the right to a due process. While the farm leaders were persecuted and imprisoned, the Commanders of the Military Divisions, Brigades and Unities were killing defenseless farmers in the region, presenting them in the Mass Media as guerrilleros that were killed during combat. The ACVC is a social farmer's organisation that has promoted during twelve years in the Magdalena Medio regio, the fight for land, the defense of human rights, social justice and regional development.13 This last 17th and 19th of february in the city of Barrancabermeja there was a demonstration outside the Palace of Justice realised by the farmers of the Valley of the Cimitarra River, accompanying in this way the hearing that Miguel and Andrés were having.

Victims of State Crimes in US Congress

On the 12th of february in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, the democrat George Miller presented the human rights situation in Colombia and tried to convince his colleagues to not approve the Free Trade Agreement between the USA and Colombia. In the session Jessika Hoyos, member of Hijos e Hijas and daughter of the union leader Jorge Darío Hoyos Franco, who was killed in 2001, gave her testimony. Also present was José Luciano Sanín, director of the National Union School, who stated that “in the last 23 years 2.700 union leaders have been killed and the violence against them increased in 2008 with 25%. In 2008 16 were killed and in 2007 only 10. They affirm that of the 9.991 denunciations of violations against life, liberty and physical integrity of unionists in this period, 23% occured under de administration of Álvaro Uribe.”14 As a response to the testimonies given in the US Congress President Uribe finger pointed the human rights defenders. “Many of these people that critize me have lived outside Colombia before. Now they live in Colombia, happy, and while we are working with the communites this left burgeoisie sits around talking, drinking whisky and cocktels. Now these people are protected and people in the United States should know so."15

Four years of lies and extermination. Four years of Memory and Dignity

The 21th of february has been the fourth aniversary of the horrendous massacre in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (Antioquia), commited by the National Army and Paramiltary Groups. That day Luis Eduardo, his son Deiner, his partner Bellanira, Alfonso, his partner Sandra and their children Natalia and Santiago as well as Alejandro were assasinated.16 On the 20th of february 2009, 29 internacional organisations and 22 national human rights organisations, sent a letter to General Attorney Dr. Mario Iguarán Arana, in which they asked him, among other petitions, to investigate the vicepresident of Colombia Francisco Santos Calderón, the ex minister of Defense, Jorge Alberto Uribe and the ex-commander of the Military Forces, Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle for their responsability in the obstruction of the investigations of the massacre of this eight people. Although the General Attorney has prosecuted 10 militaries in their resonsability of the facts, a lot still needs to be done with respect to the responsability of higher Military Commanders and people in the government.17

Interethnic Popular Consultation in the Jiguamiandó river bassin

With an emphatical No against the mine exploration of the Mandé Norte proyect, the second day of votation finished this last 28th of february, in the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo in the Jiguamiandó river bassin. The Popular Consultation is the first in its kind to be held in Colombia, based on the uses, the costu ms and the rights of the people. The Consultation tries to open the road to make the Colombian State and the Companies Muriel Mining Corporation and Río Tinto to recognize and accept the comunitarian decision. There were around 1.500 people participating in the consultation, of which 1.082 voted, since the rest of the people assisting were less than 10 years old. 18

Handing over land in the Curvaradó River Bassin

Since the 15th of february 2009 a new fase started in the process of restitution of collective and individual properties, that were occupied in bad faith by oilpalm, cattle and wood businessmen. The afrocolombian inhabitants of the villages of Cetino and Camelias in particular, that today live in Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones, have been witnesses of the handing over of their lands, sown today with oilpalm, by the Ministery of Agriculture and the Ministery of Internal Affairs.19

1 Acción Urgente 002 Fensuagro 19/02/2009

2 Comité Permanente de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (CPDH) Nariño 13/02/2008

3 “Denuncian masacre cometida por las FARC contra miembros del resguardo de Tortugaña Telembi en Barbacoa Nariño” Unidad Indígena del Pueblo Awá y Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia

4 Comité Permanente de Defensa de Derechos Humanos (CPDH) Nariño 13/02/2008

5 “Cuatro asesinatos más enlutan hoy al movimiento sindical” CUT 23/02/2009

6“Persecución y Exterminio: Plan 'Cantado' del Gobierno contra Nosotros” Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó 03/03/2009

7 Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas ACIN 02/07/2009

8 “Asaltan oficina de atención a victimas de la comuna 13 de Medellín” IPC 25/02/2009

9 “Nuevamente la Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos-ASFADDES- es amenazada por paramilitares hoy águilas negras” ASFADDES 06/02/2008

10 CPDH Bucaramanga 15/02/2008

11Allanamiento de la sede de la Asociación Campesina de Arauca y detención arbitraria” Fensuagro 19/02/2009

12 “Presidente Uribe denunció existencia de “bloque intelectual de las FARC”” El Tiempo 02/02/2009

13 La ACVC: Resistiendo con Dignidad enero 2009

14 “Duras críticas a Uribe en E.E.U.U” El Espectador 12/02/2009

15 “”No necesitamos que EEUU nos exijan proteger sindicalistas”: Uribe” El Espectador 14/02/2009

16 “Cuatro años de mentiras y exterminio pero al mismo tiempo cuarto años de memoria y dignidad” Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó 18/022/2009

17 “Piden al Fiscal General Marío Iguarán investigar al vicepresidente Francisco Santos por masacre en Comunidad de Paz” DH COLOMBIA 20/02/2008

18 “Consulta Inter étnica de los Pueblos, Culmina Primera Consulta de los Pueblos en Colombia” Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz 02/03/2009

19 “De ver 484 Devolución Parcial de Tierras en Curvaradó” Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz 19/02/2009