(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Bogotá, Colombia, March 15, 2016
To President Juan Manuel Santos
To the Negotiators in Havana, Cuba
To the guarantor countries, Cuba and Norway
To the accompanying countries, Chile and Venezuela
To the United Nations Organization, the Inter-American System of Human Rights and other organizations interested in protection
To communications media
To national and international public opinion
FOR OUR LIVES, FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND FOR PEACE:
GUARANTEES THAT THERE WILL BE NO REPETITION
In the last two weeks the following attacks have taken place on social and popular movements, and Human Rights.
• On March 12, 2016, Sharon Dariana Mármol was disappeared, raped, and murdered. She was 14 years old, and the daughter of a social leader in Southern Bolivar. At her funeral, those who attended were brutally attacked by ESMAD (Colombian riot police). Two people were killed, including Leonel Ortega.
• On March 10, 2016, in Arauquita, Arauca, Gil de Jesús Silgado, a campesino community leader, and Milton Yesid Escobar Rodriguez, a bodyguard for another leader, Martín Sandoval and the son of the Marcha Patriótica Leader, Rigoberto Escobar, were murdered.
• On March 7, 2016, William Castillo, leader of the organization Aheremigua, was murdered in Bagre, Antioquia.
• On March 6, 2016, Klaus Zapata, leader of the Young Communists, was murdered in Soacha, Cundinamarca.
• On March 4, 2016, in the settlement of El Malabar, in the Municipality of El Castillo, Meta, an unidentified man was murdered in the context of paramilitary control of that area.
• On March 2, 2016, William Alexander Oime, an indigenous leader from Tambo, Cauca, was murdered in Popayán.
• On March 1, 2016, Hernando Pérez Iriarte, the representative of his family in a land restitution proceeding, was murdered in the District of Sabanas de Pedro, in the Municipality of Los Palmitos, Sucre.
• On February 29, 2016, Gilberto Jesús Quintero was killed in Tarazá, Antioquia in the midst of an operation by the Colombian Army.
• On February 28, 2016, a campesino leader, Maricela Tombé was murdered in El Tambo, Cauca.
• On February 23, 2016, Ober Díaz Guerrero, 23 years old, Esneider Torres Fonnegra, 25 years old, Brayan Steven Montaño, 20 years old, and a minor, Samuel Emilio Gómez, 17 years old, were murdered in Segovia, Antioquia.
• From March 4, 2016 to March 7, 2016, in the Province of Putumayo, after the appearance of threatening flyers that announced a misnamed “social cleansing”, the following individuals were murdered:
• In the Municipality of Puerto Asís: Duber Fernando Vélez, 18 years old, Luis Humberto Donado, 22 years old, Héctor Fabio Gómez and Luis Obando, 22 years old.
• In Puerto Caicedo: Sabulón Burbano Córdoba, 44 years old.
• In La Hormiga: Ana María Rendón Londoño, 31 years old and Jonathan Calderón Torres, 17 years old.
• And in Orito: Oscar Alexander Arango Velásquez, 32 years old, and Gonzalo Mariano Rodríguez, 28 years old.
• On February 21, 2016, in the Province of Córdoba, the following individuals were murdered after being threatened:
• In La Iriaca, Puerto Libertador, Felipe Martínez, 21 years old.
• In El Caramel, Tierralta, Jerónimo Alberto Pérez Montalvo, 20 years old, and Luis Miguel Torres Trejo, 22 years old. Both of their bodies showed signs of torture.
• Threats and Persecutions
• On Sunday March 12, 2016, a second flyer in less than a week was circulated among the residents of Segovia, Remedios and Vegachi, Antioquia, threatening the misnamed “social cleansing”.
• On March 10, 2016, the social leaders and defenders of human rights, Rigoberto Guarín Vallejo, of the Campesino Association of the Municipality of Caloto; José Orlando Angen Quintero ex-president of the Vereda Pedregal Town Board; Noreida del Carmen Trejos Bueno, from the town of Pedregal and Wilson Castrillón Candela were captured. The first three leaders are also members of the Association of Campesino Workers supporting the creation of the Campesino Reserve Area in the Municipality of Caloto-ASTRAZONACAL. They are also members of the Political and Social Movement, Marcha Patriotica, in the Province of Cauca.
• On March 9, 2016, a flyer signed by the group “Black Eagles, capital bloc, D.C.” was circulated in San Miguel, Putumayo. The flyer threatened ethnic groups and claimants of land, and accused them of being collaborators with the FARC.
• On March 9, 2016, a box full of rose petals and containing death threats was delivered to the headquarters of the Santander Association of Public Employees—ASTDEMP.
• On March 8, 2016, in Curvaradó, Chocó, strangers barged into the home of Eladio Cordero, who is reclaiming land in the Collective Territory of Curvaradó. They threatened and intimidated him.
• On March 7, 2016, in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, Patricia Angulo Potocarrero was threatened with a knife in the context of paramilitary presence.
• On March 6, 2016, victims of Mapiripán who were participating in a meeting in Villavicencio were threatened with death.
• Threatening flyers were also circulated in Barrancabermeja, North Santander, Sucre and Antioquia in the last two weeks.
• Since March 5, 2016, a flyer that threatens activities of the misnamed “social cleansing” has been circulated in Villeta, Cundinamarca.
• On March 2, 2016, the health workers union in Barranquilla – Anthoc – received a box with the mutilated head of a dog and a threatening flyer.
• On March 1, 2016, some flyers signed by the paramilitary group that calls itself “Black Eagles” were circulated in the town of Niscota, towards Morcote, between Boyacá and Casanare. The flyers threatened to kill 13 people.
• There have been complaints of an increased paramilitary presence in the Municipality of El Castillo, Meta, since February of this year. On March 1, an unidentified body was found in the town of Malabar.
• Ingrid Vergara, a defender of human rights and the technical secretary of the Sucre chapter of MOVICE, was followed and harassed during the last week of February. It was learned that an attack on her was being planned from the prison in Sucre.
• Recently there has been an attempt to question the finding of politically motivated genocide in the Patriotic Union murders, in which more than
5,000 people were killed.
After putting together the information from different organizations, we can see the shocking increase in paramilitary activities all over the country, which has produced a total of 28 people murdered in just the last month. Thirteen of the victims belonged to social and human rights movements. Fifteen people were murdered in the framework of the misnamed actions of “social cleansing”, part of the strategy of terror and intimidation that they use to control the communities that they occupy. Last year there was an increase in the threats; however, last year there was not as high a number of murders taking place in just one month.
A total of 54 attacks on persons who are leaders and on human rights organizations have been recorded. That averages two attacks every day, along with threats, attempts, judicial frame-ups, and stalking.
Fifteen regions are affected by these events: Santander, Putumayo, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlántico, Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, Cundinamarca, Boyacá, Meta, North Santander, Sucre, South Bolívar, and Buenaventura.
What stands out here is that the regions most affected by the recent attacks are the same areas that the national government has designated as priority areas for the implementation of post-conflict changes and for the United Nations Development Program (PNUD).
One can see in the following graphics the statistics in the attacks that have been recorded in the last month, as well as the regions that are most affected:
Page of graphics here
We demand guarantees that this will not be repeated
These events constitute a response by far right sectors to the reports of an imminent bilateral cease-fire and the eventual signing of a peace agreement with the FARC-EP, as well as to the reports of advances in dialogs with the ELN.
The attacks seek to intimidate the social, popular, and human rights movement, because of the significant support it has achieved for the National Strike called for March 17. It also coincides with the recent capture of Santiago Uribe for alleged homicide and connections with the paramilitaries. That led ex-president Alvaro Uribe Vélez, in a letter widely distributed to communications media, to make false accusations against human rights defenders such as Javier Giraldo, S.J., Attorney Daniel Prado, and human rights organizations such as the Inter-Church Commission for Peace and Justice, and the “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers Collective. All of this has increased the level of risk.
Because of this, we demand that the Attorney General of Colombia identify all of those responsible, including those who planned these crimes. Impunity is a stimulant for those who stalk and murder. Justice needs to act. President Juan Manuel Santos must speak out to condemn these attacks and call for the competent authorities to step up and guarantee the lives and physical integrity of every Colombian. Their silence up to now is unacceptable when the country is seeking peace and reconciliation.
Victims, organizations, social and popular movements and political forces are enthusiastically observing the advances that are letting us dream of the end to most of the armed conflict. However, to make this desire come to pass, it is not enough that the FARC-EP silence their guns and transition to civilian and political life. It is necessary for the Colombian government to confront the structural causes that started the dirty war, the war that was made manifest in persecution, stigmatization, extermination and genocide of the leaders of social and popular movements, and of opposition political parties that favored human rights. These have acquired the connotation of international crimes, involving the responsibility of agents of the government and paramilitary groups that have acted with their consent and connivance, as has been demonstrated in multiple national and international court decisions.
If the government does not admit and condemn these crimes; if it does not eliminate the doctrines and security policies that are based on the “internal enemy”; if it persists in characterizing the economic struggle, labor union activity, social protest, simple dissent or criticism as an expression of the “political war instigated by the internal enemy”, the “political arm of the guerrillas” or “the legal war against the armed forces”; if the communications media keep on echoing expressions like “the legal war”; where they always accuse defenders of human rights of being organizations linked to the guerrillas; if they don’t take down the paramilitaries, investigate and punish them, including those who promote them and benefit from them; if they don’t purge the public administrators and the armed forces and if they don’t make legal and institutional reforms, they will not be able to guarantee that these crimes will not be repeated.
A negotiation that does not confront and resolve these problems, at best will accomplish the de-activation of some of the actors in the armed conflict, but it will not establish the basis for a lasting and sustainable peace, the kind the Colombian people are wishing for.
In the framework of the National Day for the Dignity of the Victims of State Crimes, observed every March 6, we, the organizations of victims, of defenders of human rights, of social and popular organizations, of political and academic leaders, ask the negotiators in Havana, Cuba to recognize the urgency of creating a HIGH LEVEL COMMISSION ON THE GUARANTEES THAT THE CONFLICT WILL NEVER BE REPEATED (ANGNR in Spanish), because of the situation of serious risk confronted by the communities in the territories and their leaders, in compliance with the agreements already reached by the negotiating parties, particularly the following agreements:
The General agreement for the termination of the Conflict, which establishes in point (3) the end of the conflict. This is conceived as a complete and simultaneous process. Among other aspects, this implies that:
“3.4. In a parallel manner, the National Government will intensify its battle to take down the criminal organizations and their networks of support, it will fight against corruption and impunity, and in particular against any organization responsible for murders and massacres or attacks on defenders of human rights, or on social or political movements.
3.5. The National Government will review and will carry out the reforms and institutional changes needed to meet the challenges of building the peace.”
The Declaration of Principles adopted for the discussion of point (5) of the agenda item “Victims”, which in number eight (8) establishes the “guarantees that there will be no repetition: The end of the conflict and the implementation of the reforms that arise out of the Final Agreement constitute the principal guarantee of no repetition and the way of making sure that there will not be new generations of victims . . .”
The agreement reached, at point five (5) regarding rights of the victims with the creation of a complete system of truth, justice, reparation and no repetition (SIVJRNR, in Spanish) and the commitment to the promotion, the respect and the guarantee of human rights, including the objectives found in number 5.1.4. (the) Guarantees that there will be no repetition, that “will result partly from the coordinated implementation of all of the afore-mentioned measures and mechanisms, as well as in general all of the points in the Final Agreement; and partly from the implementation of additional measures of no repetition that were agreed upon as part of point 3 “End of the conflict” on the Agenda of the General Agreement”.
Based on the foregoing, we propose that the High Level Commission on Guarantees that the Conflict Will Never Be Repeated adopt short-range measures, medium-range measures, and long-range measures.
The most urgent measures include: 1) Identifying the risk factors, patterns of the violations, economic, political and military organizations in the regional or national ambit that threaten or endanger the lives and integrity of communities and their leadership. 2) Following up on the government’s protection duties and obligations so that those are coordinated with the leaders who are at risk and with the communities, according to their regional particularities and their action plans. 3) Following up on the obligations to pursue and accomplish an effective takedown of paramilitarism, and to investigate and punish those responsible, including those who support it and benefit from it.
The ANGNR Commission, both medium and long range must accomplish the following objectives, among others:
* Contribute to overcoming every kind of doctrine among public officials, particularly the government’s security agencies, that is contrary to complete respect for human rights and to recognition of plurality, of diversity, and to the Social Rule of Law as the foundation of democracy.
• Recommend the purging from government service of those officials who have undermined constitutional objectives, whether by commission or omission.
• Purge the intelligence files that the government has maintained against social leaders, labor leaders, populists, politicians, indigenous people, campesinos, Afro-Colombians and defenders of human rights.
To accomplish this, the Commission must have unrestricted access to the government’s files and documents, without any legal claim of secrecy or confidentiality, as well as access to every location that is necessary to carry out its mandate. This includes interviewing and collecting, from any person, authority, official or public employee, all of the information that it considers relevant. Also holding public hearings and conducting confidential investigations that it considers appropriate and where it may keep confidential the identity of those who furnish important information or who take part. They should also have the power to draw up guidelines on legal and other necessary reforms.
The High Level Commission on the Guarantees that the Conflict Will Never Be Repeated will be official, diverse, and will be made up of nationally and internationally recognized experts on ethics, on social and popular organizations, movements and opposition political parties, victims’ organizations and organizations that defend human rights.
The ANGNR Commission will issue alerts, oversee, recommend and follow up on the accomplishment of the process of institutional transformation that is to provide guarantees that there will be no repetition of the serious human rights violations and the violations of international human rights law. It will enjoy complete and effective respect for human rights and because of that, it will undertake the institutional reforms necessary to reach that goal, including reforms of the Armed Forces and of the legal system and all of those that contribute to overcoming the structural causes of the socio-political violence of the armed conflict.
In any event, its objectives, its make-up, and its functioning will be the focus of a broad participatory process, with discussion by social, popular, labor, victims of state crimes and human rights organizations.
Finally, the victims, the human rights defenders, the organizations, the social, political and popular movements announce that, starting now, we will put together on paper a dialog on the current state of the peace negotiations in order to present periodic reports on the human rights situation in the different regions of the country. This will be a mechanism to continue building the High Level Commission on Guarantees that the Conflict Will Never Be Repeated, open to all of Colombian society.
• Colombian Association of University Students – ACEU
• Campesino Reserves Association – Anzorc
• Colombian Association of Conscientious Objectors – ACCOC
• Agrarian Summit
• Congress of the Peoples
• Colombia, European Union and United States Coordination-CCEEU
• Campaign Against Police Brutality
• Federation of University Students – FEU
• DHOC Foundation (Foundation for the Defense of Human Rights)
• Colombian Young Communists
• Patriotic March Social and Political Movement (Marcha Patriotica)
• National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Movice)
• Colombian Communist Party
• Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development
• Organized Student Rebellion
• Congressional Representative Alirio Uribe
• Congressional Representative Angela Robledo
• Congressional Representative Víctor Correa
• Senator Iván Cepeda Castro
• Patriotic Union – UP
• Professor Víctor Currea Lugo
• More signatures