( Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó once again wishes to make a record, before the county and the world, of the latest aggressions with which agents of the Colombian government have victimized us:
–Beginning April 12, 2010, by means of local radio stations, members of our Peace Community have been notified that they are to present themselves at the headquarters of the Army’s 17th Brigade to give testimony. The Community considers that those who have perpetrated so many hundreds of crimes against the members of our Community and against the farming population in our area have no right to set themselves up as “investigators”. This constitutes an insult to the most elementary and universal standards of justice, since a criminal institution can never investigate itself.
–On April 12 and 13, 2010, paramilitaries wearing camouflage and carrying rifles sent a message to the members of the Peace Community, announcing that they intend to exterminate the community and that the list of victims has been ready for a long while and they will begin the executions sooner or later.
–On April 13, 2010, around 7:00 a.m., seven men dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles entered several homes in the town of Miramar. The armed men said they were “self-defense forces” and they said they were carrying out searches in the different towns.
–On April 14, 2010, around 6:00 p.m., a soldier told a member of the Internal Council of our Community that the military had a list of 60 local people to be arrested, among them several members of our community. In that way, he said, they would “do away with that sonofabitching community”.
–On April 19, 2010, around 8:30 a.m., members of the Army again threatened the members of our community in the settlement of La Resbalosa, claiming that they were going to finish off the community and everybody in it. The members of the community requested that they respect the decision of the Inter-American Court and of the Constitutional Court, but the soldiers answered that they are above all of that, that they don’t have to obey any decision of those courts. In the same way, Colonel Rojas, the Commander of the Voltígeros Battalion stationed in this area, has made clear to international organizations that he will not respect the measures ordered by the Court and by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. He says that he works with alias “Zamir”, the FARC deserter who has spread numerous false and defamatory statements against our Community, and with Wilfer Higuita, an admitted paramilitary in the service of the Army, who has announced beforehand the most recent extrajudicial executions carried out in the area.
–On April 15, 2010, at 7:30 a.m., a car was parked next to the house where the family of Eduar Lanchero lives. One of the occupants of the car, along with another man who arrived at the same time on a bicycle, broke the lock and forced their way into the house, which was empty at the time. They stayed inside a half an hour and turned everything upside down in the place where books and papers were kept, but took absolutely nothing with them.
–Beginning April 22, 2010, graffiti attacking Father Javier Giraldo and various human rights organizations have appeared in several places in Bogotá, threatening death and calling them guerrillas.
These events evidence the persecution that is being carried out against our system. It simply does not cease. To all of this, we have to add the ineffectual attitude of the Public Defender’s Office. Our local Public Defender office was eliminated several years ago and the Public Defender has not paid any attention to the order of the Constitutional Court in its Decision # T 1025/07, acting in contempt of the Court. In the same manner, the Army has brazenly manifested its contempt for national and international law and for the institutions that protect human rights. There is no name for their shamelessness. Meanwhile, the connections between the military and the paramilitaries, of which our community has complained for years and always denied by the Government and by the Army, continue to come to light while justice agencies keep silent and look the other way.
This deadly system that has scourged us for so many years is continuing its efforts to destroy us, using, as always, the most vicious methods. They believe that by these actions they can annihilate our alternative system, one that is based on conscience, on liberty, on choosing life and choosing a peace that comes from respect for each other and for human dignity.
Their efforts to destroy us do not cease and they cover up the actions with speeches that distort reality. A government that claims that it has taken every measure to protect us and that has made progress in the fight against impunity is distorting reality with falsehood. They are trying to cover up their utterly perverse actions that are coming to light from day to day, but they are always trying to hide what they are doing in order to obstruct justice.
Nevertheless, we who are victims have a memory that is more active and lively than ever, because we are not relying on a past that is dead and buried. We are working for the victims and for their dignity, for their past which will always be alive and present, and for their stories, which are now much more real and alive than ever. That is why we cannot remain silent in the face of the terrorist actions that continue to be carried out, in the face of the continuous threats and intimidation. To do that would be to believe in the logic of the oppressors and to justify it, to rely on their method of extermination and exclusion. That is why we are continuing day to day, believing in our principles and in the daily necessity to keep our desire for truth and justice alive. That makes possible a world that is different, a world we call reparation.
Once again we request the people who live every day with growing awareness not to give up their search for a different world, their solidarity. We know that that solidarity is what permits the survival of places and communities that are different from those systems that are built on killing, on crime, and on impunity.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSÉ DE APARTADÓ
APRIL 23, 2010