(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Source : Peace Community of San José de Apartadó http://www.cdpsanjose.org
In the last few days, Colombia and the entire world have been scandalized at the levels of corruption that have been detected in the organizations of the Colombian Armed Forces. Intelligence centers camouflaged behind restaurants and who knows how many other establishments, violating the Constitution, the laws and international treaties. They trample the privacy and the most sacred rights of the citizens and they carry out corrupt espionage, trying to control, to attack, and to destroy anyone who thinks or acts in ways that are different from their exclusionary and criminal plans for our society.
All of that happens every day in San José de Apartadó, where the armed forces have tried for seventeen years to destroy our Community, which holds fast to the moral values that they treat with scorn.
The events of the last few days require us to furnish new evidence to the country and to the world.
* On Tuesday, February 4, 2014, members of our Peace Community found evidence of the presence of a group of soldiers who had taken over a plot of land that is the private property of our Community. It is located in the town of Mulatos, where the troops had undertaken the construction of a heliport and an encampment where they could spend the night. When a member of our Community happened to be there working to cultivate the crops, he found himself face to face with one of the soldiers. The soldier approached him threateningly and demanded that he get off the land, unaware that it was the Army that was acting illegally and that he was required to get off the land immediately. It did no good to make clear to him that the troops were violating constitutional rights. Arrogantly and contumaciously they continued with the construction of the heliport and the encampment. Not only that, when they left several days later, they stole food that the Community had raised. They did it brazenly, knowing full well that they were committing a crime. The heliport severely damaged the forest and the mountain area.
* On Saturday, February 8, 2014, WBER AREIZA, a member of our Peace Community, was detained for several hours by Army soldiers on this day, just before he walked through the urban part of San José on his way to the settlement at La Unión where he lives. He was freed after an intervention by a group of members of the Community who demanded that the officer who detained him give a reason for his arbitrary act. But he, seeing that he could not give any reason at all that would support the illegal act, decided to deny that they had detained him. That gave the Community a basis for inviting Wber to continue on his way. Nevertheless, a few minutes later, the soldiers and the police who were there in the town followed him and they detained him again, demanding that he find some family member to identify him. This is a procedure that is used routinely by the paramilitaries and violates Decision 12061/01 of the Constitutional Court. That decision definitely prohibits that kind of registration. When the Community once again went up to them to demand respect for constitutional rights, the soldiers and police tried to separate the children from the adults, claiming that the insistence and the protest were a “bad example” for the children, while they ignored the real bad example which is to allow the violation of human and constitutional rights by the agents of the government themselves.
* On Tuesday February 11, 2014, a bomb exploded in the urban part of San José, very close to the military base that is located in the midst of the civilian population, once again placing them at high risk. Once again we note the serious consequences of the government’s contempt for the orders of the Constitutional Court and the Council of State. Both, in repeated decisions, have required the removal of bases and stations located close to the civilian population.
* On Wednesday, February 12, 2014, the President of the ITALIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK, COLOMBIA LIVES, an international human rights organization that sisters with our Peace Community, received a message from Mr. FREDY SALAZAR IBANEZ, the Executive Secretary of the APARTADO PROVINCIAL OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL. It was part of the file labeled IUS 2013-428785. The message announced that because the group had refused to come to Colombia to give testimony about attacks by the Police against our Peace Community, about which the Network had requested that the Colombian justice system investigate, so as to avoid impunity, the file would be closed and that no appeal would be available. That lays bare the corrupt mechanism used by the Inspector General’s Office to guarantee impunity for crimes: look for witnesses in foreign countries, who obviously were not present at the moment the crime was committed, and avoid looking for witnesses who actually were present at the dates, places and times that the crimes were committed. Their goal is to claim that proof could not be obtained.
* On Thursday, February 13, 2014, soldiers from the military base in San José approached Diana Higuita, who lives in La Unión. They showed her photos of various people from the region, including her partner, telling her that there was a warrant for his arrest. They invited her to work with them as an informant, saying that she would earn a substantial reward.
* On Friday, February 14, 2014, around 3:00 p.m., a group of soldiers were plundering the belongings of members of our Peace Community in the town of La Unión.
* On Sunday, February 16, 2014, around 3:00 p.m., there was an exchange of gunfire at the military base located at the place known as La Antena, right next to the urban center of San José. Once again we see the consequences of the contumacious disregard of the government for its own judicial agencies at the highest level.
* On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, a high-ranking military commander in the region, went on the radio and called disrespectful the demand by the former mayor of Apartadó, Dr. Gloria Isabel Cuartas to have the police and military bases removed from San José de Apartadó, as if he did not know that it was not the former mayor who had given the order to remove them, but the highest courts in the country.
On Friday, February 21, 2014, at about 4:00 a.m. a group of soldiers camped in the settlement of San Josecito, taking advantage of the fact that most of the members of the Community were not present, but were taking part in ceremonies commemorating the horrible massacre of eight members of our Peace Community, perpetrated by the Army in the company of the paramilitaries. There the soldiers hung up their service weapons in our homes and when they woke up, they surrounded our houses.
On Saturday, February 22, 2014, around 4:00 p.m., Army troops invaded land belonging to our Peace Community in the settlement of San Josecito. When a forceful group from the Community approached them and asked for an explanation, the soldiers claimed that they did not know that it was private land, in spite of the fact that it is properly fenced. When the protests of the Community, and of the Colombians and internationals who accompanied them, obliged the soldiers to leave the property they invaded another tract of land owned by the Community. That tract is used for growing cacao and they tried to make a camp there. The massive presence of the Community caused them to retire rapidly to this other location, but they left a suspicious package hanging from a tree. That caused fear in the Community, since both children and adults regularly work there.
* In the last few weeks the paramilitaries are pushing the construction of dwellings and recreational activities in the towns of Rodoxaly and Sabalet. The admitted paramilitary, alias “PANELO”, who lived at the 17th Brigade headquarters for a while, has been in charge of coordinating sports activities as they look to a comprehensive control of the population.
As has been demonstrated, the corruption that has caused so much scandal affecting high-ranking personages and authorities is something that we have suffered every single day. “For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Luke 23, 31.
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
February 26, 2014
(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited.)
Peace Community of San José de Apartadó