(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Many of our friends and communities in solidarity have asked us if the “Pardon” requested by President Juan Manuel Santos of our Peace Community last December 10, for the slanders put forth years ago by his predecessor and punished by the Constitutional Court as criminal, have had or could have the effect of deterring repetition. Unfortunately, President Santos did not comply with the second part of the Court’s order, that is, the presentation “of a procedure for avoiding future targeting of it (the Community) such as the establishment of an exclusive channel of communication that would reduce the risks of targeting and would foment the rebuilding of confidence”.
This omission, we don’t know if it was premeditated or not, has invalidated the practical effects of the Presidential “pardon”, because other agents of the government, and especially the President’s direct subordinate, the Commander of the 17th Brigade of the Army, have replaced ex-President Uribe in his criminal role, thus integrating himself into the systematic crimes of PERSECUTION and SLANDER against our Community. This is expressed now in several thousand crimes against humanity and war crimes that are the subject of proceedings in international tribunals.
We faced a new military incident that took place in the urban center of San José de Apartadó last February 5 that apparently left a number of soldiers as victims. The Commander of the 17th Brigade, COLONEL LUIS MIGUEL GÓMEZ QUINTERO, along with a member of the Apartadó Municipal Council and several merchants in the city, rushed to the mass media to accuse our Peace Community of complicity and even of close coordination with the guerrillas, who allegedly had placed the explosives. Their reasons? Because of our persistent complaints that they are violating the orders of the Constitutional Court and the Council of State by where they are locating military and police bases. In conflict zones, those are not to be located in proximity to the civilian population, because the population could be affected by military attacks. They are saying, then, that to demand that COLONEL GÓMEZ comply with the Constitution is to “be complicit with the guerrillas”; and that defending the rights of the civilian population is “being complicit with the guerrillas”. The enormous list of serious damages, that up to now is more than 150, that the military and police bases illegally located in the urban part of San José de Apartadó have caused to the people and to their private property, contrary to the orders of the highest courts, brings to light the magnitude of the harm for which the national government is responsible. Because of that, once again we make a record of these facts, before the country and the world:
* On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, at about 10:15 a.m., an explosive device blew up in the urban part of San José de Apartadó, right near a group of soldiers from the military base located there and attached to the Voltígeros Battalion of the 17th Brigade. According to information from people who live in San José, two soldiers were hit. The explosive blew up just a few meters from the police station, next to a residence that belongs to the Peace Community. In addition to the Peace Community’s residence that was affected, a place of worship belonging to a Protestant Church was also hit. Classes were immediately suspended for fear of what was happening. This has generated a series of accusations by the armed forces against the civilian population in the region, reaching such an extreme that two people who happened to be working in the Health Center were seized as suspects. Just as in an infinity of previous cases, the civilian population that was victimized was turned into victimizers by the actions of the Army, which looks for “immediate results” (“false positives”).
* On that same February 5, 2014, soldiers from the military base in San José threatened a number of campesinos, saying: “the sons of bitches who live in San José will pay dearly for what happened here. The paramilitaries in Apartadó and in Tierra Amarilla will see to that; don’t let anybody forget that we work together.” Minutes later, a member of our Peace Community who was on his way from San Josecito to the town of La Unión was accosted by some soldiers who called him names and threatened him, once more announcing that the Peace Community would be exterminated and claiming that the paramilitaries would help see to that.
* On Thursday, February 6, 2014, during the morning, using regional communications media, the Colonel who commands the Army’s 17th Brigade, LUIS MIGUEL GÓMEZ QUINTERO, as well as a member of the Apartadó Municipal Council and several merchants from there, accused us of “coordinating these attacks in San José de Apartadó with the guerrillas”. The Colonel complained publicly about our complaints and demands that the orders of the Constitutional Court and the Council of State be respected by re-locating the Army and Police bases and no longer placing the lives and other fundamental rights of the people at high risk. For those “government agents”, our demanding that they comply with the Constitution is ”being complicit with the guerrillas”. One more proof that they exist OUTSIDE THE LAW and have no legitimacy.
Once more we make manifest that our Peace Community rejects all violent acts, wherever they may come from. They place at risk the lives and well being of the civilian population. Precisely because of that, we insist that maintaining the Police Station and the Military Base where they are now is a permanent attack on the rights of the civilian population and a contumacious disregard of the orders of the highest courts. We have raised numerous outcries to the President of Colombia, urging that he cease his rebellion against the agencies that control his own government, and take responsibility for the seriousness of the injuries that his contempt has caused.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
February 7, 2014
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó