Read the May 2010 informative Bulletin.
Persecution of MOVICE and its members
Persecution continues in Sucre
At about six o'clock in the afternoon of May 18, 2010, after forced to step down of the motorcycle that was transporting him to his residence in the farm "La Alemania", farmer leader, human rights defender and member of the Sucre Chapter of the MOVICE, Rogelio Martinez, was killed by a group of masked men dressed in black.
On May 21 during the funeral of Rogelio in San Onofre (Sucre), police officers in civilian took pictures of the participants in the commemoration. During the Mass being celebrated in honor of Rogelio Martinez, about 40 people entered the body of Henry Alviz Ramos, assassinated on May 19 and who had been presented days before in the regional newspaper El Meridiano as close to the "emerging bands." That same newspaper presented the day after Roger and Henry as close friends and in the newspaper “El Tiempo” they were told to be have killed together. This strategy of giving victims a place near their perpetrators with the objective to generate mistrust within organizations, criminalize members of the MOVICE and reverse the relationship between victims and perpetrators has been recurrently used in the department.
On the 21st of May the Municipal Council of San Onofre stated as false accusations Ivan Cepeda's statements on paramilitary infiltration in the regional politics. In the last week of May it was known that a group of gunmen belonging to a paramilitary structure in Bogota was preparing an attack against Iván Cepeda Castro.
On Saturday May 29 at 2:10 p.m. Eduardo Castro, member of the Sucre Chapter of the MOVICE, member of the ACEU and candidate for the Student Council at the University of Sucre, received a telephone call in which an unknown man said "what are you doing Eduardo? Stay quiet!". On April 28 Eduardo Castro had been declared a military objective through email by an organization calling itself "New Generation AUC".
Attempt to kill human rights defender in Bucaramanga
On May 20 at about 3:10 in the morning a subject entered the residence of Miguel de la Vega Guzmán, apparently to carry out a robbery at the residence. The strange thing is that the subject did not steal any belongings, but proceeded to the the room where Miguel de la Vega was sleeping. The family of Miguel immobilized the individual who threatened to have a weapon and immediately informed various human rights organizations who proceeded to inform the National Police, which arrived minutes later. Miguel de la Vega, is a recognized social leader, technical secretary of the National Coordination of Displaced Persons (CND) in the region, member of the Santander chapter of the MOVICE, leader of ANDAS in Bucaramanga and survivor of the genocide against the Patriotic Union (UP).
Harassment against a member of the ACEU in Barranquilla
On April 25, Fabian Escobar, student at the Faculty of Humanities of the Atlantic University and Secretary of Education of the Colombian Association of University Students (ACEU) was approached by a man, aged approximately 30-35 years old and well dressed, who asked him in decent way what time it was. At the same time Fabian noticed that on the other side of the road there was a motorcycle with two men on board who looked at him suspicously. The man who had asked him for the hour interrupted him and told Fabian "hey communist sonofabitch, do you think we're just playing aroud? Are you waiting until we kill one of you to understand we want you to leave this place? What are you waiting for, get the hell out of here!"
Threats in the Valle del Cauca
On May 27 on the 123 hotline of the Police Command of the municipality of Tulua (Valle del Cauca), the superintendent of Police Julio Cesar Bermudez received a call from a man claiming to be a professional soldier who textually said: "I call to alert that until Monday the following people have time to leave the region, there is an order to kill Luz Marina and John Freddy from ECAT, Berenice Celeyta from NOMADESC, and members from the Solidarity Committee with Political Prisoners". On May 5 at 8:20 pm, a message subscribed by the “Black Eagles New Generatios” had been sent to the cellphones of several social leaders threatening leaders of Suarez and Buenos Aires (Cauca) belonging to the Community Council of La Toma, the Proceso de Comunidades Negras de Colombia (PCN), the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), NOMADESC, the Minga of Social and Community Resistence, SINTRAUNICOL , the CUT-Valle and the Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA).
Harrasments against the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado
On May 17, 2010 members of the National Army arrived at the house of a family of the Peace Community in Mulatos and started saying they had lost several soldiers in recent days and that they would revenge themselves on civilians. They also said that because of that Sonofabitch Peace Community they could not act, but that they were waiting for the hour to wipe out the entire Community. On May 18, members of the National Army told several families of the villages of Bellavista and La Crystal that they will act together with "The Black Eagles" and that they would get their revenge for what was happening in the region . In recent weeks there have been clashes between the guerrillas and the army in the region.
E-mail threats against social organisations in the Middle Magdalena
On May 27, a threat was sent from the email address email@example.com to several e-mails from organizations in Barrancabermeja, among others MOVICE member ASORVIM, stating that "Because in Barrancabermeja there is guerrilla presence in all these organizations, which call themselves displaced, human rights defenders, trade unions, NGOs and a batch of bastards who believe to be untouchable we will exterminate those who oppose the development and security of the country. You are very wrong we won't retreat. We will not allow to continue to spread these ideas, which have become part of history. We will put an and to these radio and television programs and F* workshops. F* Dogs you are going to regret having been born. We won't rest and we will exterminate you. Traitors of our country, or leave or die." It is important to notice that this threat is received at a time when the Attorney General's Office called five organizations listed in the threat (ACVC, USO, OFP, Sinaltrainal and Credhos) to participate as victims in the process against the Administrative Department of Security (DAS) for its illegal interceptions.
Continuing death threats against members of the Curvaradó Community Council and the Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace.
Enrique Manuel Petro Hernandez, farmer leader and member of the Curvaradó Council, has been declared target of a paramilitary operation. This operation should simultaneously take place against members of the Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace in the region of the Lower Atrato or Bogota. Paramilitary leaders in the region, have received the amount of 30 million colombian pesos from oilpalmfarmers and businessman from the cattle ranching and banana industry to execute the crime.
Persecution of families in Argelia (Cauca) continues
Since mid-April to date, Rodrigo Muñoz, a community leader from the municipality of Argelia (Cauca) and his family have suffered intense persecution by paramilitary structures, reason for which they fled from the region on May 5, 2010. The paramilitary structures in the region operate with the acquiescence and tolerance of the 29th Brigade, the battalion José Hilario López and the National Police. The new method of harassment and threats through intimidating phone calls, follows the more than 200 killings, 17 disappearances, torture, death threats and forced displacement of hundreds of family, all which occured in Argelia since 2008.
Threats against CPDH-Nariño
On May 21 the Director of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CPDH) Nariño, Javier Dorado Rosero, received new threats through a message on his personal cellphone and minutes later he was called from the same number. Due to the threats Javier had to leave the workshop he was doing on human rights in the municipality of Samaniego.
Agressions against trade unions
On May 18, Leslie Torcoroma Peñaranda Blanco, educator affiliated to the Union Association of Teachers of Norte de Santander – ASINORT, was killed in the municipality of Abrego (Norte de Santander).
On May 17, Abello Fransisco Antonio Rebollo, an employee of the Investment Company Palo Alto Gnecco Espinosa & Co. of the oilpalm plantation in Palo Alto, Municipio de San Juan de Palo Prieto (Magdalena) and Sintrainagro union member, was killed. Fransisco had participated, along with 185 workers in a strike, conducted between December 2009 and January 2010, to gain recognition for Sintrainagro and through which they had achieved a Collective Workers Agreement between the union and the palm company.
On May 7, Nilson Ramirez, affiliated to Sintragrim-FENSUAGRO was killed by an unknown man in the village of La Esmeralda in the municipality of El Castillo (Meta). In this region of the Upper Ariary in the Municipality of El Castillo (Meta), the National Army through Battalion 21 Vargas, which is attached to the fourth division, has been implicated by the declarations of paramilitary leader, alias "Don Mario", who stated that the battalion had worked together with them.
On May 3 an email was sent to the personal mail of Rodolfo Vecino, Treasurer of the Oil Workers' Trade Union – USO and the National Commission on Human Rights and Peace of the USO, from the e-mail address: eltemible777@ hotmail.com, through which he received death threats against him and his family and he was told that he figured in a "black list given by Garcia the former head of the DAS information." In the threat Rodolfo is accused of rebellion and given 48 hours to "leave" the country because they do not want to see him in any part of Colombia.
On May 20 FENSUAGRO received a threat subscribed by the "Central Block of the Black Eagles", in which over 20 political, social, trade union and popular leaders, and more than 60 organizations including FENSUAGRO were declared military targets.
On May 12 several men inside a grey car were hovering suspiciously around the house of the National Human Rights Secretary of FENSUAGRO.
The riot police violently assaulted the university community in the Technological University of Pereira
The Mobile Riot Squad ESMAD, subscribed to the National Police, perpetrated violent attacks against students of the Technological University of Pereira on May 8 at the time the riot police entered the campus. The events were initiated in the afternoon when the ESMAD entered the higher part of the campus with indiscriminate attacks against the physical integrity of persons present, firing tear gas and rubberbullets.
Commemoration of the first year of the Humanitarian Refuge and successful launch of the solidarity campaign with Catatumbo
End of April 2010 the Peasant Association of Catatumbo (Ascamcat) called on the communities of the municipalities of Teorama, Convention, San Calixto, Hacarí, El Tarra, Tibú and El Carmen to participate in the Campaign for the Freedom of Catatumbo, against the judicial set-ups and to mark the first year of the Humanitarian Refuge in response to the situations experienced in the region of Catatumbo, which has directly affected the rural population.
Tribute to Irina del Carmen Villero Diaz and Olivey Cuenca Leon
On May 26, the Bogotá Chapter of the MOVICE commemorated these two young people who were killed respectively on June 2, 2001 and May 27, 2007. The crimes are in a state of total impunity to date.
Exhumation and burial in Barranquilla of victims of extrajudicial executions
The Association of Families United for one Single-Pain – AFUSODO and the Foundation Infancia Feliz on May 8, accompanied in Barranquilla the burial of the remains of five young men who were killed by the national army and then presented as killed in combat.
Mothers of Soacha manifest against Juan Manuel Santos
On May 8, 2010 the mothers of victims of extrajudicial executions in Soacha, staged a protest against the campaign of former defense minister of Colombia and presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos. "As Minister he did not respond for the disappearance of our son and now he comes to deceive our town with false promises," according to Luz Marina Bernal, one of the mothers concerned. About a dozen mothers rejected the presence of Santos in the municipality, because they said, they do not forget that when there sons were disappeared and taken to Ocaña (Santander), Santos was directly responsible as Minister of Defense.
18 peasants were released in Catatumbo
On May 7, 2010 the order was given to release 18 farmers who had been deprived of their liberty and had been detained in the prison of the city of Cucuta. The citizens had been arrested at different locations in the region of Catatumbo though the arrest warrants issued by Special Prosecutor No. 29 of Bogota on February 5. The judge reviewed the case and declared that both the detention as well as the investigations used by the authorities to accuse the peasants, had a number of irregularities. The evidence used against the farmers was not sufficiently solid and the detention had violated the farmers due process. At the same time the 68 arrest warrants, which had been issued on the same date were lifted.
Displaced demand respect of the Minister of Interior and Justice
On May 20 during the public hearing on the fullfilment of the recomendations made by the Constitutional Court with respect to public policy concerning forced displacement, the Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio, instead of indicating the progress and the activitites developed by the government to overcome the unconstitutional state of affairs, preferred to make irresponsible and disrespectful accusations against displaced people and organizations that work on this problem in the country.
Public Communique by the Board of the Mayor Council of the Curvaradó River Basin
The Curvaradó Community Council elected on April 25, 2010, made a public statement with respect to the actions of Minister Fabio Valencia Cossio in relation to the return of land in the Urabá region and national and international human rights organisation that work in the region. The public statement also demands the mayor of Carmen del Darién to recognise the legal elected board. The communities articulated in this Community Council and the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones pronounced themselves with respect to affirmations made by the Vice President Francisco Santos on internal division within their community and called on the national and international community to inform the minister on the severe consequences of returnig land to the occupants of bad faith and businessmen, through their representative, Germain Marmolejo, who has not been recognised as such by the Community Council. Link: http://justiciaypazcolombia.com/Comunicado-a-la-opinion-publica-de
Government proposes to increase penalties for crimes against human rights defenders
The Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented a proposal to increase the penalties for the murder, kidnapping and threatening of human rights defenders up to 56 years in prison. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, on 10 June, the National Table on Guarantees for human rights defenders will come together to "agree on strategies and actions to strengthen the guarantees for the exercise" of their work.
The intelligence activities of the state -DAS- serve criminal interests and political persecution
A week before the presidential election, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) issued a report on the illegal activities of the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), intelligence agency that reports directly to the Presidency of the Republic. The report presents an overview of the illegal activities carried out by the DAS, as well as processes and ongoing trials against its members. The report emphasizes in particular a deep concern over the continuation of these criminal activities and the development of the judicial investigations and processes, since there have been several threats around these process. The report is available on the FIDH website: http://www.fidh.org/Colombia-Las-actividades-de-inteligencia-del
UN shows deficiencies in the Colombian Justice system
Multiple deficiencies affecting the independence of the Colombian justice system, were denounced by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul Albuquerque e Silva, in a report released on May 28 at the UN office in Geneva. "The widespread sense of impunity and the resulting inefficiency of the system (…) attacks and intimidation of victims and witnesses (…) and corruption in justice," stand out among the deficiencies noted by the Rapporteur. She further claims that the "links between paramilitary leaders and politicians, including members of Congress," and the "threats" against "the independence of the judge," along with "false accusations and disqualification of lawyers" are some of the challenges Colombia is facing.