Original Source: Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
[Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator.]
The choice our Peace Community has made is focused since its beginning on the defense of life against any system of armaments. That is why we are making a record for those humans who do not share in the deadly plans or in actions that destroy life. Our choice for life has been the main pathway that has allowed us to go forward toward a world that one day will respect life and where impunity for murderers will not reign.
In spite of all the records we have established, paramilitaries continue to commit crimes from all of the bases that we have complained about. They try to control us every day, with their checkpoints and the crimes they commit. The Office of the President of the Republic only responds with speeches that are far apart from reality, looking the other way in order to allow the death and discredit that they keep imposing on the Peace Community.
We now report the most recent criminal actions:
* On Sunday, October 30, 2011, around 4:00 p.m., there was combat between the paramilitaries and the guerrillas in the towns of La Esperanza and El Porvenir, putting the civilian population in the line of fire. Three families succeeded in fleeing from the middle of the combat, thus saving their lives. It is evident that the paramilitaries, who are continuing to act in close complicity with the Army, are always trying to use the civilian population as a SHIELD, which is a WAR CRIME.
* On Thursday, November 3, 2011, around 2:00 p.m., an Army airplane bombed the area where members of the Community were doing their community work in the town of La Resbalosa. The members of the Community had to leave their work and flee to get away from the bombs. That constitutes, according to all of the evidence, an indiscriminate bombing of the civilian population, identified in international humanitarian law as a WAR CRIME.
* On Sunday, November 6, 2011, around 10:00 a.m., a citizen, FRANCISCO RESTREPO, was murdered by armed men who appeared to belong to the FARC in the town of Guineo. He was close to our Peace Community and he sold cacao to the Community. Our sympathy is with his family.
* On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, around 7:00 p.m., 200 paramilitaries arrived in the town of Playa Larga, located between Nuevo Antioquia and La Esperanza. La Esperanza is part of our Community and is 40 minutes from the town of Playa Larga. The paramilitaries threatened the citizens and announced that they planned to go to all the towns of the Peace Community and that they have already planned a massacre of the Community.
* At present the 2d Criminal Court of the Apartadó Circuit is preparing the final text of a guilty verdict against four young campesinos from San José de Apartadó. Even though they are not members of our Community, they are part of our social and geographic community. The first time that they were summoned by prosecutors to appear, on September 22, 2010, some of them were threatened with death and they requested the assistance of the Public Defender’s Office. But that Office denied them any protection and when they were returning to the hearing, they were shot at. One of them, ALONSO VALLE GUERRA, was injured. Threats against them multiplied and on May 11, 2011 another of the four, JHON KENNEDY HIGUITA RAMÍREZ, was murdered.
Just a little earlier, on March 22, BERNARDO RÍOS LONDOÑO was murdered. Now it has been learned that he was connected to the same case, which had suffered a procedural interruption. Another one of the men who were charged, JORGE LUIS HIGUITA TUBERQUIA, had received telephoned death threats. The threats came from some people who were being housed at the headquarters of the 17th Brigade. The other defendant, JOSÉ ALBEIRO DAVID GRACIANO, had escaped with his life on September 22, 2010 by hiding in the woods when the group was being shot at.
So we see the connection between the rifle and the robe. Once again we discover the fusion between the judicial apparatus and the government’s military/paramilitary criminal system. But this case itself, developing within the accusatory model of oral justice, conducted by PROSECUTOR 117, assigned to the Apartadó section, MELBA JUDITH ARIZA BARÓN and the 2d Apartadó Criminal Court Judge ANTONIO MARÍA MARTÍNEZ MONTERO, once again reveals the judicial irregularities that we have been complaining about for years. There was no separation of powers or independence or any kind of impartiality. The prosecutor and the judge submitted absolutely to the dictates and the spurious stories from the 17th Brigade, where they cooked up phony evidence. Nobody listened to the accused or to the citizens of their towns. Their testimony that the four were just farmers dedicated to their daily work was ignored. On the contrary, the prosecutor ARIZA BARÓN argued that being dedicated to normal and legal work is what proved that they were guerrillas, and that the normal and legal activities of the defendants proved that they were guilty of the crime of “rebellion”.
The prosecution witnesses were all obtained from the 17th Brigade: four demobilized guerrillas, the Voltigeros Battalion’s chief of intelligence, SERGEANT MANUEL VICENTE SEVERICHE, and a detective from the Attorney General’s Office, HENRY MAURICIO VÁSQUEZ, who found all of his evidence in the 17th Brigade, through “interviews” of the same demobilized guerrillas. Of those, the only one who had any accusation against the defendants was alias SAMIR, but his claims could not withstand common sense, because he made clear that they had not belonged to his group (Fifth Front of the FARC) and that he had met them years ago in a training course and he had heard they had deserted years ago, but he had heard that the current guerrilla commander in the area, alias “Darlinson”, had gathered together some “retired” guerrillas to sign them up again.
Two of the defendants had been in jail for several years because of the same accusation, and when they got out, alias SAMIR had already deserted and was living at the Brigade headquarters. So he could not have known what was going on with the guerrillas in the area in recent years unless he soldiers had told him what to say. They have been accustomed for years to “judicial false positives”.
Nevertheless, Judge MARTÍNEZ MONTERO found totally credible and unquestionable this piece of gossip that “Samir” had supposedly heard at the 17th Brigade headquarters. This gossip, and the “Battle Plan” against the FARC, concocted by COLONEL GERMÁN ROJAS DÍAZ, whose blackmailing of campesinos is well known in the area and has often been the subject of our complaints, was the basis for his guilty verdict.
It is obvious that everything that the Constitution calls due process (Article 29), as well as the guiding principles of the Code of Criminal Procedure were ignored and trampled by the prosecutor, ARIZA BARÓN and by the judge, MARTINEZ MONTERO. They ignored the separation of powers, the principles of legality and the requirement that the elements of a crime be proved, as well as the regulations for complaints and verdicts, the criteria for analysis of testimony, impartiality and consideration of contrary testimony. Everything was ignored, but this case reveals, one more time, how judicial officials in Urabá are just acolytes in the military organization; that they stubbornly keep on constructing judicial “false positives”, manipulating demobilized guerrillas and creating false testimony. The fusion of “robe and rifle” is in effect, totally.
* In the last few weeks a video titled “The Children of the Peace Community” has been circulating on the internet. It is evident that its purpose is to defame and discredit our Peace Community. To accomplish that, it serves up a multitude of falsehoods and frame-ups. To obtain that objective, it identifies as members of Peace Community numerous people who are not members and have never been members. The biographical information about numerous individuals is totally false. The video is full of faked photographs that we know were concocted at the 17th Brigade and presented without the most minimal legal requirements in several proceedings, even while the 17th Brigade and the judges refused to order a technical examination. Instead, they assert that they found them in computers captured when guerrilla leaders were killed, but they have never submitted them to the control that the law requires, so that they are entirely open to the possibility of photographic fakery. Their content, their purposes, their language, their components and their techniques leave no doubt whatsoever that their creator is the Army’s 17th Brigade, the entity that for fifteen years has conducted a merciless persecution against our Peace Community and against the campesino population around us, using the dirtiest and the most criminal maneuvers. This video is one more crime that tries to justify the multitude of other crimes.
These events continue to show the continuity of the PERSECUTION, a systematic crime contemplated by the Statute of Rome as a crime against humanity. For various decades the campesino population of San José de Apartadó has been the target of this continuous crime that is not subject to the statute of limitations. There have been hundreds of techniques of persecution, encompassing almost the whole gamut of crimes contemplated by International Humanitarian Law and the Statute of Rome.
In the face of the whole destructive system of the government, our Community reaffirms its efforts to build an alternative, dignified world based on the values of peace, solidarity and justice.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
November 9, 2011
(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)
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