The following letter was sent by the Executive Director of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia to friends about continuous attacks against the Permanent Committees.
Appreciated Luis Guillermo
Dear Jimena, Laura and Catherine
Thank you so much in advance for your expressions of solidarity, which comfort us in this complicated moment for our organization.
It¹s true that we are facing a very strong assault by the establishment against the CPDH (Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights) in every regional office in the country.
As you know, in the days before the presidential inauguration, the police arbitrarily entered our offices in Bogotá, with the argument that we were a "suspicious organization" and took down information about all the members of our Board of Directors.
Regional offices like that of Atlántico [Department] were practically dismantled, all of their members were threatened. The majority had to leave to be displaced to other regions and some had to leave the country.
It was the same for our regional offices in Norte de Santander, especially in the city of Cúcuta; the majority of our members have had to leave the city, especially after the murder of Dr. Carlos Bernal, Attorney and Executive Secretary in that region on April 2, 2004.
In the regional offices of Valle del Cauca, our colleagues from Florida, Calima el Darién have been displaced and our colleague from our Committee in Buga, Walter Alvarez Ossa, has been disappeared. This was denounced earlier.
On August 24, 2006, Martha Sofía Castaño, who is a public school teacher (and the daughter of the renowned defender of human rights, the President of the Permanent Committee for the defense of Human Rights in Risaralda, Gullermo Castaño Arcila), received threats from unknown parties who awaited her at the door of the school. As is publicly known, Guillermo has been threatened has been threatened several times without any reaction from the government.
Our colleague Victore Oime, ex-mayor of Cartagena de Chaira (Cáqueta), who was the victim of an arbitrary detention and was brought to testify at the recent conference of the FIDH, was detained again with his wife and son this past August 6 in Bogotá, from where he had arrived as a displaced person, again accused of rebellion.
I myself have been threatened by an army officer en Saravena, for having written him a note demanding respect for International Human Rights Law, since they are demanding that the rectors of the schools allow troops to participate in the raising of the national flag in the educational institutions. Because of this, there is a penal charge against me for a supposed complicity with terrorists against patriotic institutions.
In Arauca, the entire Board has been threatened. They are taking precautionary measures because of that. The notorious murder of Gregorio Izquierdo is another pre-announced death. He had received threats, and the government knew about it but did nothing to prevent his death.
Really, our situation in Meta, in Antioquia, in Bucaramanga, Huila and Nariño is difficult because of the sieges, being followed and all kinds of threats against the human rights activists and defenders.
As you know, since its founding in 1979 the Committee has suffered 64 murders of members of its Boards, among tem Héctor Abad Gómez, Jesús María Valle, Josué Giraldo, Carlos Bernal, Jaime Pardo Leal and many others.
As the final blow, the Ministry of the Interior has been drastically reducing the "security elements" that they had assigned to us: some airline tickets and some communications equipment. The CPDH is an organization that is totally unprotected and at the mercy of the murderers.
That¹s why we thank you very much for the accusations about these facts before the European Union, the Colombian embassy, the UN, and other institutions. Here discuss to organize a meeting of the three associated leagues of the FIDH to see how we on agree on lines of action.
Luis Jairo Ramírez H.
Executive Secretary, CPDH
In ColombiaA Public Denunciation
Murdered: Gregorio Izquierdo Meléndez, member of CPDH-Arauca
With indignation and sadness the Permanent Committee fir the defense of Human Rights rejects and denounces the murder or our colleague Gregorio Izquierdo Meléndez, principle member of the Departmental Board of our committee and President of the Union of Public enterprises of Arauca (SINTRAEMSERPA), which occurred on Wednesday the 13th of September, 2006, at approximately 6:30 PM in 17th Street between 37th and 38th Avenues, in Barrio Bulevar de la Ceiba en the capital of Arauca just a few meters from where the teacher German Eduardo Solano Andrade was murdered some days earlier.
Gregorio Izquierdo was a gret leader, a lover of peaceful coexistence who worked tirelessly for peace and social justice. These are gifts for which those who defend dark interests would not forgive him. He personally and the Committee had at the appropriate time denounced the threats of which he was the object.
In this crime the State at the regional and national levels has responsibility for their negligent attitude in not guaranteeing the security of our colleague Gregorio, given that since February of 2004 the Interamerican Commission on Human rights of the OASin the face of accusations, persecution and threats directed at the Board of Directors of the Permanent Committee for Human Rightshad decreed precautionary measures be given us. To date, despite our insistence, these measures have not been made real. Now we have to lament this sad event, which plunges the community of Arauca into mourning, a committee that despite th high level of militarization and cutting of our liberties does not feel secure.
We demand of the government an exhaustive investigation to discover the parties responsible for this. crime so that they not remain in impunity with many others
We express our sincere sentiments of condolence and solidarity in these difficult moments to his wife and children, family members, friends, and the workers of the public enterprises of Arauca and of the SINTRAEMSERPA union, urging them to courageously overcome this hard test. We will follow the example of bravery and dignity, something that was always taught to us by our sacrificed Goyo.
With sad sentiments.
Permanent Committee for the defense of Human Rights, Arauca Regional Office.