( Translated by Stephanie DiBello, a CSN volunteer translator)
Public Denunciation: Families of young victims of extrajudicial execution harassed in Soacha
Friday, October 30th, 2009
The mothers of the young men who were extra-judicially executed in Soacha and the Bogotá-Cudinamarca chapter of MOVICE denounce before the national and international community the threats and harassment of those who have been recently victimized and targeted.
LUZ MARINA BERNAL PORRAS
On the night of October 20th, Jhon Smith, the oldest son of Mrs. Luz Marina Bernal, found a paper in the backyard of the residence that he shares with his family with the following message: “From what we can see you did not understand the message. Live with the consequences. The little bird has returned to the nest. Just don’t forget that you were warned.”
On October 10th the same young man received a text message on his phone around 8:26pm that literally said, “Your girl was already warned with our visit. We hope that you’ll leave within the time period we gave to her, and if not you will live with the consequences. It’s a shame because there are two of you but this is so that next time everyone understands to keep quiet, so don’t go saying afterwards that you weren’t warned.”
That same night at around 11:30pm, after Jhon Smith parked his car he was approached by two men with unmarked vests that were wandering around in a green Pulsar motorcycle without plates. When they saw him one of the men asked him, “Usted es el del tiro?” The young man responded that they were mistaken.
When he arrived at his residence, Jhon Smith found another piece of paper in the same backyard that had a message on the back saying, “We are not playing. This is a warning, don’t forget it.”
When he entered his house and checked out his window he saw the two men that had approached him just minutes earlier passing by on their motorcycle. He heard one of them say, ‘Eso va tocar darles plomo a todos esos H.P…”
The men that drove off in the motorcycle did not have identifiable plates. Fair Leonardo Porras, son of Mrs. Luz Marina Bernal, was extra-judicially executed on January 12, 2008.
CARMENZA GOMEZ ROMERO
Mrs. Carnebza Gómez Romero, whose son Victor Fernando Gómez was extra-judicially executed on August 25, 2008, is denouncing the murder of her other son Jhon Nilson Gómez, who died from several gunshot wounds on February 4, 2009. This boy had miraculously survived a previous attempt on his life, in which he was pushed from a bridge 20 meters high just outside of the town of Fusagasgua. This occurred sometime between October 11 and 18, 2008.
Jhon Nilsón had arrived to this town after contacting two police agents from the town of Soacha, who convinced him to move to that city so that they could continue investigating those involved in the death of his brother.
After the first attempt the young boy continued being threatened by telephone.
Mrs. Carmenza remembers that on November 22, 2008 her son received an intimidating phone call where they said, “Past experience seems to be useless, what happened to your brother wasn’t enough, stop investigating…”
Afterwards different members of the family received similar or more intimidating calls.
But the threats didn’t stop there, because the assassination of her sons followed.
On February 24, 2009 Mrs. Carmenza received several calls, supposedly from SIJIN agents (the intelligence unit of the Metropolitan Police of Bogota), demanding that she give out personal information about her place of residence and the phone number of her house, which she refused to provide. However, one of her daughters also received calls that day and she provided the information they wanted.
On March 4, 2009, Mrs. Carmenza received another call where they said, “You are the woman from the television, you need accompaniment. If you need it we will give it to you for free.” The callers also identified themselves as being from the SIJIN. That same day Mrs. Carmenza’s daughter, Luz nidia Torres Gómez, received a call in which she was told, “You’ve made denunciations, what is it that you want you motherfucker, to die like your brother…”
MARÍA UBILERMA SANABRIA LOPEZ
On March 7, 2009 at around 10:45am two men on motorcycles approached Mrs. María Ubilerma Sanabria López near her house as she was leaving to pick up her granddaughter from school. She is the mother of Jaime Steven Valencia Sanabria, who was extra-judicially executed on February 8, 2008.
The two men never took off their helmets. The driver, after getting off of the motorcycle, subdued Mrs. María Ubilerma Sanabria López by grabbing her by the hair and throwing her against the wall while saying to her in a defiant tone, “you old bitch you believe you’re playing with your mother’s tits. We are not playing. Keep opening your mouth and you’ll see that you’ll end up like your son, we’re not playing you old bitch.” The men fled immediately afterwards.
Mrs. María Ubilerma Sanabria López, said that she continues to receive strange calls at all hours of the night on both her house and cellular phones. In these calls if they don’t insult and harass her they just call and hang up. The first call that she received was 8 days after they buried her son, in November of 2008. During that call a man’s voice insulted her and told her to keep quiet before hanging up. In another call that she received on her house phone, a voice asked her what she was doing at that moment, and she answered, “Nothing”. The man’s voice replied, “That’s how we want you: quiet.”
Then on June 22, 2009 she received a text message on her cellular phone saying, “Mommy, I love you so much, may God bless you. Sincerely, a corpse now.” Mrs. María Sanabria also denounces that threats that her two daughters have received, where they have been approached and told to keep quiet and not to cause anymore problems.
BLANCA NUBIA MONROY
At around 9:30pm on July 25, 2009 two men on a high power motorcycle and dressed in military clothing approached Mrs. Blanca Nubia Monroy’s two children, one under 15 years old and the other 17 years old. Mrs. Blanca Nubia Monroy’s other son was extra-judicially executed on March 3, 2008.
The supposed search was accompanied by pushing and aggressive questions where they asked the children to reveal where they lived and what they were doing in the street at that hour.
The strange thing about this illegal search is that only those two children were approached, despite the fact that there were others hanging around the same place.
EDILMA VARGAS ROJAS
Mrs. Edilma Vargas is the mother of Julio Cesar Mesa Vargas, who was extra-judicially executed on January 27, 2008. Mrs. Edilma Vargas had to leave her home in Soacha, in San Nicolás, because she was one of the two mothers who, after hearing rumors that Pedro Antonio Gámez Díaz was one of the men involved in the recruitment of her son, went to his house before knowing all of the facts. His house was located near her own, so she went to ask him about the location of her son. The man, previously confirmed as the person who recruited her son, denied his participation in the disappearance of her son.
Mrs. Edilma Vargas returned a second time to his house with the same objective in mind. However this time the person who answered the door did not want to identify himself and he told her that it was better to leave things as they are.
It’s fitting to mention that Pedro Antonio Gámez is currently detained.
FLOR HILDA HERNÁNDEZ
According to the denunciation of Mrs. Flor Hilda Hernández, mother of the young man Elkin Gustavo Verano Hernández who was extra-judicially executed on February 15, 2009, her phone and personal calendar were stolen on August 15 and September 20th 2009, respectively. In these belongings she had saved the names, contact numbers and addresses of all of the people and institutions that had assisted her in the denunciation of the crime against her son, so she does not consider these robberies a coincidence.
She also denounces that a few days ago while riding public transport to work she had to confront a man and a woman who were insulting the young people from Soacha by saying that they were “crackheads, potheads, and they deserved what they got.”
She was offended by what she heard and defended herself by shouting at them that they didn’t have the right to say those things and that they didn’t even know those young men. They responded to her that they knew the situation and they knew exactly who she was.
Frightened and angry, Mrs. Hernandez decided to get off of the bus.
While she was waiting for another bus, a funeral hearse approached her. The man in the passenger seat insists that she get inside the vehicle. She didn’t comply, and immediately gets on the bus. The funeral hearse followed the bus for several blocks.
From the moment that they began to denounce the disappearances and later assassinations of their sons, the mothers of Soacha, as they are known, have received threatening phone calls, have been victims of harassment, and have been victims of stalking. With the passage of time, as we see now, these actions have intensified, mainly because right now the soldiers involved in the aforementioned executions are being brought to trial.
Many of these women don’t want to make the facts public due to the fear that they have of making the denunciations. However, those facts that are directly relevant with the specific activities mentioned here are the results of mothers that have given statements to mass means of communication or have made their situation know to the Colombian State.
Nonetheless these women do not stop their search for truth, justice and comprehensive reparations. This is why they decided to intensify their denunciations and send a special communication to the United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, who visited the country in June, to make sure he is aware of the new facts and to ask him to pressure Colombian State to guarantee the physical and psychological security of the women, their families and friends that have been victims of these threats.
One must remember that in the Rapporteur’s first report he specifically said that the Soacha case was only the tip of the iceberg, because many extrajudicial executions were coming to light in the country.
This is a call to Colombian society, human rights organizations and journalists not to leave these women alone in their fight. The upcoming trials of the implicated soldiers should be monitored because the women are sure that they are not the only victims of threats relating to extrajudicial executions in the country.
October 28, 2009
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621