(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN’s Volunteer Editor.)
Medellín, November 25, 2010
La Asociación de Víctimas para la Restitución de Bienes (ASOVIRESTIBI) [The Association of Victims for Restitution of our Goods], La Fundación Forjando Futuros [The Forging Futures Foundation], and El Instituto Popular de Capacitación –IPC [The People’s Training Institute] denounce before the domestic and international communities and public opinion the murder of another leader of those demanding their land in Colombia.
• We need more commitment and guarantees from the nation and the government to protect the lives of the victims who are reclaiming their land.
Yesterday, November 24, Mister Oscar Manuel Mausa Contreras, a leader in regaining land, and a director of the cooperative COOTRAGLOBAN, was murdered. He had been working to regain land since 1997 in the municipality of Turbo, in the rural communities of Blanquicet and La Esperanza, in the Urabá region of Antioquia.
Mister Mausa was murdered at about six in the evening, in the rural area of the municipality of San Juan de Nepomuceno, in the department of Bolívar. He had moved to that area in 2008 to protect his life and that of his family. The homicide of Oscar Maura was carried out after he was tied to a tree, stoned and brutally tortured. This was done in the same way as the murders of Albeiro Martínez and Hernando Pérez, that is, without a firearm.
We demand of the national government and the Colombian state a more radical decision to protect the lives of victims who are reclaiming their land. It is paradoxical that while in the center, Bogotá, a new restitution law is approved, in the regions the victims who try to get their land returned are murdered. The principal obligation of the Colombian state is to guarantee the safety of and respect for the life of the victims whose lands were taken from them.
In meetings held last September 23 and November 3, called by the vice president of the Republic, the Minister of Agriculture, functionaries from the highest level of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice, the military forces and attended by international organizations in attendance worked on strategies to protect the victims, especially in Antioquia. This work is obviously incomplete, since the murders and attacks continue. We reiterate and we insist that the national authorities make progress towards an integral protection and security strategy that fulfills the points that we presented last September 23, for which we are still awaiting a reply:
1. Results in the investigations of the homicides (8 in Antioquia, 42 at the national level).
2. Publication with wide release of the names of front men and victimizers who have seized land.
3. Creation of a specialized unit of the prosecutor’s office, the judicial branch, the police and the vice presidency for the investigation and later punishment of those responsible for these homicides.
4. Creation and/or strengthening of the associations of victims to demand the return of land.
5. Strengthening of the presence of national bodies in the areas or territories where land was taken.
6. Permanent and everyday accompaniment by the international community in the areas where land was taken.
7. International spokespeople for the victims who are demanding their land.
8. Participation by the organizations of the victims who are demanding their land in the government agencies that will design and carry out the restitution policies.
9. Economic and political support from the government for the organizations of victims who are demanding their land.
The Fundación Forjando Futuros, the Asociación de Víctimas para la Restitución de Bienes (ASOVIRESTIBI) and the Instituto Popular de Capacitación (IPC) express our solidarity with Mrs. Edith Caldera Benítez, and her children María Magdalena and Juan Carlos Mausa.
Further, we reject this new murder that appeared one month after the attack on Mister Fernando Enamorado, and we call upon all the victims to organize in order to demand and win the return of the land that was taken from them and the recognition of all their rights.
La Asociación de Víctimas para la Restitución de Bienes: email@example.com
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