(Translated by Deryn Collins, a CSN volunteer translator)
APOLOGIES TO OUR WEBPAGE VISITORS.
THE JOSE ALVEAR RESTREPO LAWYERS COLLECTIVE WEBSITE HAS BEEN OUT OF SERVICE SINCE THE 13TH MARCH WHEN THE CONTENTS, FILES AND CONFIGURATION WERE DELETED BY PERSONS, FROM OUTSIDE THE ORGANISATION, WHO WITHOUT PERMISSION ENTERED THE SERVER WHERE THE PAGE WAS LOCATED.
HERRE IS A SUMMARY OF RECENT THREATS, HOSTAGE TAKINGS AND ASSASINATIONS OF VICTIMS FROM SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND UNIONS, AMONGST OTHERS, WHICH HAVE TAKEN PLACE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE 6TH MARCH DEMONSTRATIONS AND THE ORGANISATION OF THE HOMAGE TO THE VICTIMS OF THE PARAMILITARIES AND CRIMES OF THE STATE.
THE TECHNICAL TEAM IS WORKING TO RESTORE THE PAGE.
It is the responsibility of JOSE OBDULIO GAVIRIA, PRESENDENTIAL ASSESOR that
THREATS, HOSTAGE TAKING AND ASSASINATIONS OF MEMBERS OF SOCIAL ORGANISATIONS, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND UNION MEMBERS ARE INCREASING AFTER THE DEMONSTRATION ON THE 6TH MARCH 2008
(Colombia) (Social Organizations) (Date: March 14 2008)
Within the framework of Democratic Security politics the current government has increased a climate of militarization and has aggravated attacks against the civilian population and social and human rights defense organizations. Contrary to what is stated in government information, this political stance has not resulted in better human rights and, to the contrary, the number of extrajudicial assassinations committed directly by the public armed forces, arbitrary detentions, judicial false accusations have increased and the panorama of sociopolitical violence has changed in the way the aggressors act.
It is not true that the paramilitaries have demobilized. The information from diverse sources such as the OEA shows that armed bands, such as Aquilas Negra (Black Eagles), Organzion Nueva Generation (New Generation Organization), etc. continue to attack social organizations. This proves that the ongoing process between the government and the paramilitary groups has not resulted in the dismantling of the paramilitary.
Aggression against organizations and their leaders arise at the same times in which denouncement and social fight are most visible and when the situation and rights of victims are being debated nationally and internationally. Since the 5th February when the Homage was announced the stigmatization and signals coming fundamentally from high government and other sectors of the extreme right have generated a climate of polarization, the consequences of which have already been seen.
Within the framework of the convention a day of Homage to the victims of displacement, assassination and disappeared. Remembrance and Dignity, took place on the 6th March (which also included the IV Meeting of the Movimiento Nacional de Victimas de Crimenes de Estado, (National Movement of Victims of Crimes of the State)) with 24 demonstrations and involving 70 countries. Without doubt the response from the citizens supporting the homage exceeded the organizer’s expectations.
Following is a recount of the serious acts that have occurred in the last few weeks against the people and organizations that were part of the Convention and whose work is in the defense of human rights in Colombia.
Since the 19th February and through different communication media the presidential assessor Jose Obdulio Gaviria inferred that the 6th March demonstration had been called by the FARC.
1. In similar declarations the presidential assessor directly attacked Ivan Cepeda, a Human Rights defender and member of the Comite de Impulso del Movimiento Nacional de Victimas de Crimenes de Estado (MOVICE).
2. On the 11th February 2008 the editorial of the webpage of Colombia Libre, the official website of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), said that the 6th March demonstration was a march for revenge and opportunism organized by FARC sympathizers.
3. On the 12th February March organizers received threatening emails, signed by the paramilitary group ‘ONG Nueva Generacion Narino’.
4. On the 17th February Mauricio Cubides, member of Fensuagro, (an organization integrated to MOVICE), was threatened with death and suffered a kidnap attempt. As a result of which he has had to leave the region.
5. During the preparation for the Homage, Ivan Cepeda received various threatening emails, in which he was accused of being allied to the FARC guerrillas
6. On the 29th February shots were fired at the apartment of Luz Adriana Gonzalez, secretary general of the Comite Permanente por la Defensa de Derechos Humanos -CPDH- (Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights) of Risaralda. This organization is part of MOVICE and Luz Adriana is one of the promoters of the Homage. In the same week threatening letters were sent to Guillermo Castano, president of the CPDH, and director of the Federation Nacional Agropecuaria and the Corporacion Campesina del Desarrollo Sustentable. (National Federation of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Workers Corporation of Sustainable Development.)
7. On the 4th March Leonidas Gomez, Citibank worker and member of the company’s National Committee of the Union Nacional de Empleados Bancarios (UNEB) (National Unions of Bank Workers), member of the National Team of education of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) (Central Unit of Workers) and member of the Management team of the District Branch of the Polo Democratico political party. was kidnapped and subsequently assassinated.
8. On the 6th March, day of the Homage, Antonio Pedrozo, member of the organization Tejiendo Esperanza and Coordinator of the National March of the Displaced, received death threats, in an anonymous envelope containing a and the message ‘ally of the FARC – death now’ that on the outside said was for the attention of Libardo Pedrozo??
9. During the Homage to the victims, there were serious incidents in various cities. In Cucuta hostages were taken and civilians, who were not part of the march, took photos and videos. In Bogota, a young man was identified as the one who followed and took as hostage Ivan Cepada during the march on Seventh street.
10. On the 7th March the President of the UNEB, (Bucaramanga Section) Rafael Boada, who has received several death threats, was the victim of an attack that fortunately he got out of safely. During the night of the 7th March Gilardo Antonio Gomez Alzate, member, educator and delegate of the Asociacion de Institutores de Antioquia (ADIDA) and member of the Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Docentes (CEID), was assassinated.
11. The same day the computers in the offices of ASPODEGUA, FENACOA and the CND, which contained information important to their work, were destroyed.
12. On Sunday the 9th March, Carlos Burbano, member of the sub directive of ANTHOC, promoter and organizer of the 6th March Homage, was assassinated.
13. On the 11th March various social and human rights organizations received emails containing death threats signed by the paramilitary group the Aguilas Negras, which included a list of persons and organizations such as Minga, Fundip, Asopron, Andas, Asdego, Asomujer, Fenacoa, Codhes, CUT, ONIC, Comision Colombiana de Juristas, Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, la Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz, Asomujer y Trabajo; Reiniciar, (an organization that has presented an international demand against the Colombian State for genocide against the United Patriach and that has received repeated threats and attacks), Luz Helena Ramirez, member of the Comite de Impulso del MOVICE; and other organizations and participants of the March.
These acts are evidence that the paramilitaries in Colombia continue and the process of demobilization by the National Government has only resulted in restructuring and, instead of disappearing, the paramilitary presence is even more evident all over the country, particularly in places where there is strong social organization. These threats show the lack of true commitment in the search for peace.
What is especially worrying is that top Government has run a campaign against the organizations and leaders of the convoctory of the 6th March Homage, and on a lot of occasions it has attempted to delegitamise the defense of Human Rights in Colombia.
It is clear that the National Government, and the president Alvaro Uribe Vaquez promoted, using all the media in their power, the demonstration of 4th February but did not do the same for the Homage of the 6th March and to the contrary attempted to raise a cloud of doubt about the victims of Crimes by the State and the paramilitaries in Colombia, of demanding their rights.
The one responsible for the acts that happened, and for the security of the threatened organizations in the first place, is the presidential assessor Jose Obdulia Gaviria, for his frightening and irresponsible inferences. We ask that top Government rectify the information sent out about the 6th March Homage and the organizers and recognize society’s right to public demonstration and to exercise political opposition.
We call for National and International Solidarity to investigate the origins of the threats and determine who is responsible for the assassinations and attacks that the social leaders have suffered
Equally, we ask the Colombian Government for immediate results on dismantling the paramilitaries. As well as the cleaning up by the state of the lists created by military intelligence organizations, which have contributed to the stigmatization and systematic eliminations of those who are integrated in the social and human right movement.
Movimiento de Victimas de Crimenes de Estado, Reiniciar, Minga, Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz, Comite de Solidaridad con los Presos Politicos, Comite Permanente de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, ANDAS, ONIC, Cut Subdirectiva Bogota Cundinamarca, Departamento de Derechos Humanos CUT, Union Nacional de Empleados Bancarios UNEB, ADMUCIC, Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres, Hijos e Hijas Por la memoria y Contra la impunidad, Colectivo de Abogados Jose Alvear Restrepo ‘ CAJAR-, Comision Colombiana de Juristas CCJ- others.
Colombia Support Network
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phone: (608) 257-8753
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