August 5, 2010 by Prensa – Colectivo
(Translated by Kevin Funk, a CSN Volunteer Translator)
Victims of Crimes of the State: http://www.colectivodeabogados.org/Victimas-de-Crimenes-de-Estado
The members of the international delegation that visited Colombia recently were outraged and offended,when the outgoing president Álvaro Uribe Vélez cateagorized them as “enemies” and accused them of “having links with terrorism” as a result of its attendance at a public hearing held in Macarena, Colombia.
In an open letter, the members of the delegation expressed their concern about Uribe's statements, since they consider that “these allegations clearly put at risk the lives of the victims, human rights defenders, and the opposition politicians who participated in the hearing.” For them it is clear that the outgoing president Uribe should, instead of attacking the victims and those who seek to shine light on human rights violations, support their efforts and work with them to “assure that the responsible solders are brought before justice.”
Likewise, they clarified that, contrary to the declarations of Gabriel Silva, the Minister of Defense, the photographs and videos that they themselves took, are not from the former Yugoslavia, as he maliciously stated, but rather from the common grave in Macarena.
Finally they appealed to competent authorities to assure an in-depth and transparent investigation into what has occurred in this region, including exhuming the thousands of unidentified corpses from this cemetery.
The complete statement follows.
Public statement from Members of the International Delegation to Colombia from July 20-24, 2010
On July 22, our delegation joined human rights defenders and members of the Colombian political opposition in a public hearing in the town of La Macarena. Hundreds of victims attended the hearing and we heard testimony about extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, and other human rights violations committed by the Colombian army. We also saw, next to a main military base, a large number of unidentified graves where it is thought that civilians are buried after having been assassinated by the Colombian army.
The day after leaving Colombia, president Alvaro Uribe visited the military base in La Macarena. Instead of expressing his concern for the human rights situation, he gave a speech praising the same soldiers supposedly responsible for the violations. He also accused those who organized and participated in the public hearing of being 'enemies' and of having links with 'terrorism.'
We are outraged and offended by such comments. We are also seriously concerned because these allegations clearly put the lives of the victims, human rights defenders, and opposition figures who participated in the hearing at risk. Instead of attacking the opposition politicians and those who seek to shed light on human rights violations, President Uribe should be supporting their efforts and working with them to assure that the responsible soldiers are brought to justice.
We are also concerned by the comments apparently made by the Minister of Defense Gabriel Silva, that the photos of unmarked graves from Macarena were taken in the former Yugoslavia. This is a perverse distortion of reality; we saw and photographed the graves ourselves in La Macarena and the images that we captured there, taken during our visit, have appeared in Colombian and international news.
We call on the Colombian authorities to:
Assure an in-depth and transparent investigation into what happened in La Macarena, including exhuming the hundreds or thousands of unidentified bodies. Politicians and military figures should refrain from interfering in the investigation and the international community should be invited in to support and verify the investigation.
Guarantee the security of all of those who organized and participated in the public hearing on July 22 and make a public statement supporting the important work that they are doing and their efforts in bringing to light and to justice those who are responsible for the numerous human rights violations that have occurred in and around La Macarena.
The reaction of President Uribe demonstrates deep contempt for human rights and reinforces the concern of the international community that the Colombian regime does not have the political will to tackle impunity. Those who are responsible for the crimes perpetrated in La Macarena and other places must be brought to justice. Attempts to deceive the international community and distract attention from the systematic violations that are occurring do nothing to improve Colombia's international image.
Christine Blower, Secretary General of the British National Union of Teachers
Stephen Cavalier, Director of Thompsons Solicitors
Ole Christensen, Danish Member of the European Parliament
Benjamin Davis, Director of International Affairs for the U.S. Steel Union
Jeremy Dear, Secretary General of the British National Union of Journalists
Billy Hayes, Secretary General of the British Union of Communication Workers
Richard Howitt, British Member of the European Parliament
Eric Joyce, Member of the British Parliament
Tony Lloyd, Member of the British Parliament
Madeleine Moon, Member of the British Parliament
Jack O’Connor, President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Jyrki Raina, Secretary General of the International Metallurgical Federation
Evelyn Regner, Austrian Member of the European Parliament
Alan Ritchie, Secretary General of the British Union of Construction, Allied Trades, and Technicians
John Smith, President of the International Federation of Musicians
Gianni Vattimo, Italian Member of the European Parliament
Peter Waldorff, Secretary General of the Public Services International
Spencer Wood, Member of OH Parsons Solicitors
Matt Wrack, Secretary General of the British Union of Firefighters