A Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
May 29, 2013
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, was gathered together today by the national government to carry out an order by the Constitutional Court in Order # 164 of 2012. We consider ourselves obligated to make manifest the following to the country and to the world:
On numerous occasions since it was formed in March of 1997, the Community has been the victim of many wrongful accusations of criminal acts, accusations made by high officials of the government. In particular, the addresses by the President of the Republic on May 27, 2004 and on March 20, 2005, supported by lying witnesses and frame-ups prepared by members of the armed forces and of the judicial system, have had fatal consequences during these nine years. Every time that his statements have been reproduced in the different national and international mass media, they have served as an alleged justification for the armed forces and the judicial system to perpetrate hundreds of crimes against the Community and against the farming people who live in the surrounding area.
The complaints that the Community has filed for many years with the House of Representatives Prosecutions Committee and with international tribunals to ask for justice have achieved nothing. Finally the Constitutional Court, following up on its Decision T-1025 in 2007, set a hearing in March 2012 and admitted the justice of the Community’s complaints regarding conditions for re-establishing some conversations with the government. Those conversations had broken down completely after the horrendous massacre on February 21, 2005, where several Community leaders and their families, including children a few months in age, were cut in pieces.
The first order of the Constitutional Court in its Order #164/12 requires “the retraction of the accusations made against the Peace Community and its supporters and the definition of a procedure to avoid future statements against it”. In the same article of the Order, it “orders the Ministry of the Interior to coordinate and undertake a procedure for the presentation of the retraction.”
Ever since our first contact with the Ministry of the Interior the Community has insisted with absolute clarity and emphasis that we would only consider it to be a retraction in proportion to the false statements if it were an explicit statement by the President of the Republic, since it was the President who had committed the serious crime of slander that had caused so many hundreds of fatal consequences, crimes against humanity, in a series lasting nine years.
The Ministry of the Interior informed the Peace Community in April that President Santos had agreed to present the retraction and the date was set for some time in April. This was later postponed because of problems with the President’s schedule. Finally the date was set for today, May 29 and the Community designated 32 of its members to go to Bogotá to take part in the ceremony.
When the entire delegation had already arrived in Bogotá, and just a few hours before the commencement of the ceremony, the Community was informed that the President would not attend. His absence is one more affront to the community. We are unaware of the reasons for the absence of the chief executive. All through last night and in the early hours of this morning, the Community undertook a consultation with the different settlements of our members about what we ought to do. Finally we reached the conclusion that we consider that an action taken by someone other than the Chief of State is not in accord with the demands of justice, nor with the Court’s order.
The Community recognizes the good intentions of the Honorable Fernando Carrillo, the Minister of the Interior and of his working team in the Human Rights Unit of the Ministry. They had prepared the logistics for the ceremony. We are also grateful for the presence of all of the guests who attended the event; they are witnesses to this new affront to our system. But we can only consider it one more aggressive act by the head of the government, who changed his schedule when our entire delegation was already in Bogotá, changing the character of a retraction that was aimed at making amends for the affronts perpetrated by the Chief of State and correcting conduct that had induced a protracted series of horrendous crimes.
Once more the Peace Community deplores the contempt for the Constitutional Court on the part of the Executive. We assert that the affronts and the outrages originated by the government continue to cry out for justice and for reparation that is in proportion to their seriousness and magnitude.
The Constitutional Court, in its Decision T-1191 of 2004 made it clear that the public statements of a President can never be supported by data that is untruthful and can never ignore the first duty of a President to protect the lives, honor, property, faith and liberty of the citizens. While doing that, the President must take criminal, disciplinary, political and international responsibility for his crimes. Because of that, the crimes against the Peace Community of slander and wrongful accusation of crimes continue in impunity and continue to call out for justice.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
May 29, 2013
( This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)