Threats by the Batallón Nueva Granada (Nueva Granada Battalion) against the inhabitants of the mining zone (Bolívar)
The organizations which have signed below , are writing to ask the international and national communities, with the objective being to denounce the new actions carried out by members of the Nueva Granada Anti-aircraft Battalion (Batallón Antiaéreo Nuevo Granada), being part of the Quinta Brigada del Ejército Nacional, (Fifth Brigade of the National Army) related to threats, which put the right to life, integrity and liberty of the inhabitants of the mining zone, as well as those of the members and directors of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, Fedeagromisbol.
1. – ON the 19th September of 2006 Alejandro Uribe, president of the Junta de Acción Comunal de Mina Gallo (Council for Community Action for the Gallo Mine) and member of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar (Agro-mining Federation of the South of Bolívar), was assassinated by the Ejército Nacional (Nacional Army), which was presented to the media as a guerrilla killed in combat.
2. – Due to this approximately 600 inhabitants of the region went to the local jurisdiction offices in San Luquitas, in the municipality of Santa Rosa, with the objective being to ask the Batallón Nueva Granada for the return of the body of Alejandro Uribe.
3. – On the 21st September, whilst in these area, the people were the object of threats by the personnel of the Batallón Antiaéreo Nueva Granada, amongst which were expressed: this is not the only death there will be, there will be more dead leaders.
4.- These threats are added to earlier ones made by this military unit, in which it was declared that they had a list of the leaders in the region and members of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, who were expected to be found alone on the local roads.
5.- We openly express our rejection of the declarations made by the General José Joaquin Cortés, commander of the Quinta Brigada del Ejército to the media, in which he stated of the extrajudicial execution of Alejandro Uribe that:
REPORTER: What do you know of the situation?
GENERAL…. Look, we are developing a very important operation in the south of Bolívar; we are establishing an operations base in San Lucas, which is the highest part of the Serranía de San Lucas, with an end to neutralize all the actions of the terrorist organisation ELN in this area, including those of the FARC. Troops from this operations and recovery base initiated a tactical mission around the sector of the Paraíso Mine, on information , on intelligence received by the local population of the community, in which there has been the presence of a group of ELN bandits in this area, causing problems to the miners and the whole community in the whole region around la Serranía de san Lucas, initiating a tactical mission by the Nueva Granada battalion and artillery and the tactical mission entered into combat. As a result of this combat the subject who had or was carrying an AK47 5.56 calibre machine gun, along with 5 cartridges, 40 5.56 calibre bullets and a hand grenade. As well as this , in his black multi-purpose waistcoat pocket he had 4 IOC which are key to communications between the group, between the bandit groups of the ELN and the FARC.as well as having two diaries with mobile phone numbers, as yet we have not started , with the fiscal, to find out who these numbers belong to, we have the names of members of other pertinent ELN, plus from the names we have in these agendas we have just finished analysing pertain to the group Guillermo Ariza Bernal of the ELN who is a delinquent of these jurisdiction
REPORTER: Is the person who died and who you alluded to with all the elements he carried identified as ALEJANDO URIBE?
GENERAL Well, after this we understand from some people in Barrancabermeja that he was a community leader of the Gallo Mine, who is called llama Alejandro Uribe, but as yet we do not know, the fiscal has not established whether this is his real name or not.
Believe me, Wilson, I believe absolutely in my troops. I know my troops work transparently, they respect life, they respect human rights and those they kil are those in who are in a hostile position, those who confront the troops, or enter into combat and carry a weapon. Never, never am I going to believe the troops would place an AK47, ammunition and cartridges on a person who is a community leader.
REPORTER: Taking into account that you told us that in effect he was dressed in civilian clothes, you never said we were uniformed but you recognise we said he was wearing a shirt, with trousers, which are civilian clothes. Better said, is it not rare for civilian to carry an AK47.
GENERAL No it is not rare. When a person carries an AK47 in his hands, this is a hostile position and also he was not alone, but with 5 other people. One of those when the troops were coming, one of these could have been the lookout, could have been a sentinel they captured, and when the combat started the one who had been detained ran away, the others in the group also ran away and I don¹t know, suddenly combat began and suddenly there were more injuries, suddenly there were more deaths in combat, but it is normal in the groups for the terrorists to carry away the dead so as not to give success to the troops.
REPORTER: General, but is it not very rare that the others return?
GENERAL: No, it is no rare. In these combats it is not rare, they normally happen like this, normally. The area is very mountainous.
REPORTER: But did you not tell us that the one that was a lookout was already detained and he ran away?
GENERAL: Yes, he ran away, the troops had detained him, but obviously he was not handcuffed, he carried nothing, he was detained for investigation and in a moment of surprise, when the battle started, when the combat was initiated, this man ran away, he ran away from the troops, this is normal, it is normal that in combat this happens. (Complete interview taken from Wradio <http://www.dhcolombia.info/IMG/2006LaW_SurdeBolivar.mp3> )
6.- The content of this declaration is worrying in that once more there is the politics of presenting civilians who have been executed extra judicially by the Army, as positive results in the fight against insurgency.
Additionally, we call serious attention to the comments made by the Commandant of the V Brigada del Ejército Nacional (5th Brigade of the Army), when he refers to the existence of battles, where he says there were 5 guerrillas , accompanied by Alejandro Uribe, the social and community leader who was only person killed during this military operation.
For these reasons we direct this to the Colombian authorities who are asked to :
a) Guarantee the right to life, integrity and liberty for the inhabitants of the mining zone, as well as the social leaders of the zone, and members and directors of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar.
b) That the civil and military authorities make a public declaration, recognising the legality and legitimacy of the work developed by Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar, in accordance with the Declaration about the rights and duties of individuals , groups and the institutions that promote and protect human rights and fundamental liberties that are universally recognised.
c) On the part of the President of the Republic, in his position as Commander of the Military Forces, that he imparts directives to the military units deployed in the mining zone, with the objective being to abstain from persecuting the community leaders, miner and members of the Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar.
Bogotá, 22nd September 2006
Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar
Coordinador Nacional Agrario
Red de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia