The National Movement for Victims (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.
Open letter regarding the governmental persecution of the National Federation of Agricultural Trade Unionists (FENSUAGRO)1
The objective of this letter is to express the deep concern and rejection of the constant and repetitive political persecution against the Federation, which has escalated to the point of incarceration, finger pointing by the government, the assassination of members, threats from illegal groups and the displacement of thousands of leaders from the national territory. Regardless of the denouncements made before the national government and public opinion, both nationally and internationally, the wave of crimes being committed against FENSUAGRO do not cease. (…) More than 1,500 FENSUAGRO members have been murdered during the Federations 32 years of existence, eight of the murders occurred in 2008 and 2009 to date. In addition to the murders, there are more than 60 leaders and small scale farmers detained with legal proceedings in progress, many of which occurred arbitrarily and without due process. Recent events:
– The 1st of January, Adolfo Tique was killed. Mr. Tique was a leader of the agricultural sector, board member of the Agricultural Workers Union of Tolima, SINTRAGRITOL and a member of the Polo Democrático political party. Mr. Tique was stabbed by a man named José Vicente Acosta, alias “Pacheco”, who was detained and then released just hours later by the military personnel that were positioned in the municipality of Prado, Tolima where the crime occurred.
– The 7th of January, family farmer Diego Ricardo Rasedo Guerra is found murdered in the municipality of Sabanas de Torre, Santander province. Diego, a member of the Santander Agricultural Association was disappeared on the 4th of January of this year and was found killed with a gunshot through the mouth.
– The 16th of January the family farmer leader Arled Samboni Guaca was killed in the municipality of Argelia, Cauca. Arled was shot seven times by two indiviudals.
Detention of Harry Yesid Caicedo of the Permanente Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH) in Nariño2
On the 14th of January Mr. Harry Yesid Caicedo Perlza was arbitrarily detained. Mr. Caicedo is a member of the board of directors of the CPDH in El Charco (Nariño), the Organization of Black Communities of El Charco, ORGANICHAR, the Pro Defense Community Council of the Tapaje River and the Pacific Coast Social Coordination. The detention and subsequent raid were carried out in the context of a permanent persecution against human rights defenders and community leaders of the region, who have been victim of constant finger pointing by authorities, the state armed forces and paramilitary groups. At this moment Harry Caicedo is unjustly detained in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, accused of rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime. This scenario is being constantly replayed against human rights defenders and organizations in the department of Nariño. At this moment five members of CPDH are imprisoned in false judicial processes.
Paramilitary groups threaten leaders in Putumayo3
The 14th of January the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH) received a fax in their Nariño office from the Paramilitary Group “Central Bloc of the New Generation Black Eagles” declaring leaders and politicians in the province of Putumayo as military objectives. The recent fax is in addition to the repeated threats that social organizations and politicians in the province of Nariño have received from paramilitary groups during 2008.
Paramilitary presence in Inza and Antioquia
A group of 50 armed men, some with camuflage packs and with light weapons and ski masks, have been present in the municipality of Inza (Cauca) since last January 3rd. The paramilitaries stated that they will be present in the area, calling meetings and that they have a list of people that should not be in the area. In the municipality of Inza there have been cases of extrajudicial executions carried out by the state armed forces and cases of spurious criminal investigations with the participation of state agents, in an attempt to obstruct the investigations into the killings of Hortensia Tunja and Manuel Tao, both which were presented as “false positives” in 2006. 4
The 16th of January in the rural area of Alto Tamar, municipality of Remedios (Antioquia), a group of armed men appeared before the farmer community, identifying themselves as belonging to the “Black Eagles”. The armed men proceeded to harass and then retain Mr. Boris León, a family farmer from the region. On January 17th two masked men dressed in black appeared before the rural community of Carrizal. These events have generated unrest within the farmer communities of the area, as they have been victim of harassment, threats, forced displacement and selective killings over the past several years.5
Threats of extermination of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community6
On Saturday, January 17th, 2009, Reinaldo Areiza, a member of the Peace Community, received a telephone call from Wilfer Higuita, a young man that previously lived in the rural community of La Union. He said that he knew that various leaders and accompaniers of the Peace Community had serious problems with the Attorney Generals Office, but that there is someone that could help them to resolve these problems. Reinaldo responded by saying that he doesn´t have any problems with the Attorney Generals Office and hence did not need to talk to anyone. Reinaldo received another call less than five minutes later, this time from the cellular phone number 312.720.6117. The caller identified himself as a military colonel from the 17th Brigade and said that he wanted to talk with Reinaldo about problems that the community had. As Reinaldo responded that he did not have any problems to discuss with them and that the community doesn´t not have legal problems, the colonel stated that he was looking for help to destroy the community and was offering a lot of money to do so. The colonel also asked for help with two guerillas that wanted to turn themselves into the army and offered 2 million pesos for each one. When asked to meet to solidify the details regarding these offers, Reinaldo flat out rejected any agreement.
Forced displacement of indigenous populations due to mining projects 7
Due to the initiation of illegal and arbitrary exploration, which occurred outside the framework of the legal consultation process, of the Usa-Kira mountain for gold, copper and molybdenum, the indigenous community that lives in Coredocito (Chocó) has been forced to displace. The indigenous population claims that the displacement is due to the militarization of their territory and the invasion, without consultation, by the Muriel Mining Corporation. Approximately 400 indigenous peoples from the communities and nearly 100 afro descendents protested in Coredocito on the 8th of January to demand that the company and the army respect their collective territories and their decision not to explore or exploit the mountain.
Combat in indigenous territory8
January 3rd, 4th and 5th there was a combat between the armed forces and FARC guerillas in the rural communities of La María, El Trapiche and La Julia (Tacueyó Indigenous Reservation) in the department of Cauca. The confrontation began on the 3rd when the army came into the area, brought in by helicopter and dropped at the communities’ sports field. They immediately took position in the nearby houses and schools, resulting in structural damage of the walls, windows and roofs from the impact of bullets. As a consequence of the armed confrontation one person was injured and 150 people have sought refugee in the school, fearful of further combat.
Raid of Salmón Cultural House and aggression against Yuri Neira9
On the 16th of January the DAS (Department of Administrative Security) carried out a raid of the social center “Salmón Cultural” without finding any illegal or criminal materials. On the 17th of January at 2:30 pm two men arrived to “Salmón Cultural”, one of the men asked for Mrs. Yuri. When Yuri Neira responded that Mrs Yuri was not there the second man said, “It´s him, do it, do it”. The man that original asked for Yuri grabbed Yuri’s arm while the other repeated, “do it, do it”. Fortunately several people arrived at this moment and they were able to shut the door leaving the two men outside of the center. For five minutes they tried, with no avail, to enter the center by force.
Commemorative Act in memory of the victims of the May 16th, 1998 massacre in Barrancabermeja10
The 23rd of January in Bucaramanga (Santander) the Attorney Generals Office turned over the remains of five bodies that had been identified from the May 16th, 1998 massacre committed by paramilitaries. A wake was held at the site of the disappearance of some of the victims. Coffins for the remaining 20 disappeared persons were placed at the site and a variety of activities focused on the memory of the victims were held.
The 24th to 28th of February, 2009 a Peoples’ consultation will be held in the territories affected by the implementation of the North Mandé project by the United States company Muriel Mining and the Pantanos Project- Pegadorcito by the Swiss company CARBOLOMA S.A. or CARBONES DE LA LOMA S.A., a subsidiary of the Swiss GLENCORE INTERNATIONAL AG. These projects will affect indigenous, black and mixed race communities. For this reason the communities will hold an open consultation, with the presence of national and international civil society organizations, to express their wishes to accept or reject these projects. The North Mandé Project is planned to discover and extract gold, copper and molybdenum.
Office of the Procurator asks the Attorney Generals Office to accuse military personnel for the San José de Apartadó massacre 12
The Public Ministry asked the Attorney Generals Office on January 13th to accuse a colonel, a mayor and six other army members for the 2005 massacre of 8 members of the community. Four months after the Attorney General ordered the capture of Colonel Orlando Espinosa and Major José Fernando Castaño, accused in the massacre investigation, the Inspector General solicited the Human Rights Unit of the investigative entity to formally indict both officials who are accused of being the authors of the crimes of homicide against a protected person, aggravated conspiracy to commit a crime and barbarian acts. 83 members of the military institution and eight paramilitaries are connected to the legal process around the massacre. On the 28th of January the National Attorney General’s office called to trial the Colonel Orlando Espinosa, the Major José Fernando Castaño and another eight military personnel for their alleged responsibility in the massacre.13
Extrajudicial Executions 14
A public prosecutor of the Human Rights Unit of the Attorney Generals Office ordered the preventative detention, without bail, of thirteen military personnel from the 16th Brigade of the army which is based in Yopal, Casanare, for their alleged participation in selective killings. The investigation that is being carried out, holds the military personnel responsible for the disappearance and death of several people in the rural areas of the province of Casanare. These people were later presented as killed in combat.
Iván Cepeda: “It isn´t for Money”15
“Last December, the Council of State sentenced the Nation to indemnify myself and my family for the assassination of Senator Manuel Cepeda. Regardless of the recognition of state responsibility for this crime, the acknowledgment violates the right to truth. The High Court accepted responsibility only for omission by public officials to not protect the life of Senator Cepeda and not for the criminal action that members of the National Army in company of paramilitaries devised and carried out as has been demonstrated. On multiple occasions I have been publicly accused of benefiting economically from the reparation of victims. These accusations have even come from the President of the Republic, who has labeled me as “posing as a victim of human rights violations” and of utilizing the protection of the victims to “ask the international community for money”. As the dictum was in conflict with my right to the truth and I am under constant and slanderous accusations that I am making money off the human rights work that I do, I have made a decision. Individual I am completely renouncing my compensation for the assassination of my father. I will donate that money to a fund so that some of the children and descendents of the victims of the Patriotic Union genocide have the opportunity to study.”
The case of the assassination of the ex mayor of Roble (Sucre) will be presented before the IACHR16
On April 5th, 2003 armed men assassinated Eudaldo Léon Díaz Salgado, the ex mayor of Roble (Sucre). This occured just one month after Salgado denounced his own assassination to the President of the Republic, Álvaro Uribe, when he said in a community council, “President, they are going to kill me”. The lawyer of the Díaz family announced the 13th of January that “we are going to denounce this situation before the Interamerican Human Rights Court (IACHR) of the OAS because paramilitaries and some members of the state security forces are implicated in cases of homicide, forced disappearance and conspiracy to commit a crime”. At this time only a few paramilitaries are under investigation when regional authorities of that time were also involved.
IACHR orders cautionary measures for CRIC leaders 17
The implementation of all the necessary measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity of 32 leaders and advisors of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca- CRIC- was requested of the Colombian state by the IACHR in light of a petition presented last October by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia- ONIC- and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective. The request for protection by the Colombian state comes a month after the extrajudicial killing of Edwin Legarda carried out by the National Army. Legarda was the spouse of the head leader of the Major Council of the CRIC, Aida Quilcué.
The Military Justice system asked that it try the case of assassination in the Palace of Justice
The specialized judge Estela Lara, in charge of the case against the retired Colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega, refused to turn the case over the military justice system after a petition made by the legal defense of Plazas Vega to do so. Colonel Plazas is under investigation for his alleged responsibility for crimes against humanity during the re take over of the Palace of Justice in November of 1985.18 Days before Judge Lara refused to turn over the case Amnesty International made declarations regarding the transfer of the case. “The military justice system has been key to guaranteeing that impunity continues to be a distinguishing characteristic of the long internal conflict that affects Colombia”, declared Marcelo Pollack, an Amnesty International Colombia researcher.19
1 “Carta abierta” FENSUAGRO, 22/01/2009
2 Denuncia CPDH Nariño 16/01/2009
3 “Grupos paramilitares amenazan dirigentes en Putumayo” Comité Permanente en Defensa de los Derechos Humanos 09/01/2009
4 Informe 20 URGENTE CAUCA INZA “Presencia paramilitar en Inzá” Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz 06/01/2009
5 “La Corporación Acción Humanitaria por la Convivencia y la Paz del Nordeste Antioqueño (Cahucopana) denuncia ante las autoridades civiles, la Fiscalía, la Defensoría del Pueblo y las organizaciones nacionales e internacionales de derechos humanos, el hostigamiento del que viene siendo victima la población campesina del Nordeste Antioqueño” Cahucopana 21/01/2009
6 “Ignominia sin límites” Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó 28/01/2009
7Informe 96 Jiguamiandó-Curvaradó “Desplazamiento forzado e indígenas y afros en Coredocito y protesta colectiva interétnica de cerca de 500 personas en Coredocito” Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz 08/01/2009
9 “Allanamiento en “el Salmón Cultural” y agresiones a Yuri Neira” MOVICE 19/01/2009
10 Asociación de Víctimas del Magdalena Medio-
11Parti – Sí – Pa 153 “Consulta de los Pueblos” Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz 23/12/2008
12 “Procuraduría pide condenar a militares” El Espectador 13/01/2009
13 “A juicio 10 militares por la masacre de San José de Apartadó” Caracol Noticias 28/01/2009
14 “Dictan orden de captura contra 13 militares por su presunta participación en 'Falsos Positivos'”Caracol Noticias 27/01/2009
15 “No es por plata” Iván Cepeda, El Espectador 25/01/2009
16 “Asesinato de ex alcalde de El Roble (Sucre) será denunciada ante la OEA” La Vanguardia 13/01/2009
17 “CIDH ordena medidas cautelares a favor de dirigentes del CRIC” ONIC y Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo 22/01/2009
18 “Por ahora, juicio contra coronel (r) Plazas Vega no va a la justicia penal militar”, El Colombiano 23/01/2009
19 “Comunicado de Prensa – Colombia: Caso clave de derechos humanos no debe ser entregado al sistema de justicia militar”, Amnistía Internacional 22/01/2009