Today, April 18, at his home in the Santafe de Bogota's northwestern 
neighborhood of Nicolas de Federman, and in a cowardly and vile 
manner, Eduardo Umana Mendoza, expert in criminal law and human 
rights defender, was murdered with two gunshots to the head by 
several individuals dressed in civilian garments, who eluded the 
security of the residential unit to gain access to his apartment and 
commit the murder. 

Amid a profound sense of impotence and indignation, we, human 
rights non-governmental organizations, repudiate the murder of 
Eduardo Umana Mendoza, and reiterate our demands to the 
government to adopt efficient measures in order to protect human 
rights defenders, social and union leaders, and political activists from 
the opposition, who must suffer file inspections and activities by 
government intelligence organizations, persecution and dismantling 
of paramilitary groups, and the decanting of the Armed Forces, the 
Police, and State Security of officers and policemen compromised in 
serious human rights violations and in ties to paramilitary groups.

The violent death of Eduardo Umana Mendoza conforms the 
continuance of a wave of persecutions, disapparitions, murders and 
other attempts against human rights defenders, some of which are 
very well known while others remain anonymous, and which not 
only have taken place in the country for more than a decade, but 
have intensified in the last three years. 

This tragic event takes place amid a generalized climate of hostility 
against human rights defenders, aided or tolerated for several years 
by successive governments, which have insisted in accusing those 
human rights defenders of being enemies of government institutions 
or of being allies or spokespersons of guerrilla groups. In such 
climate, State military or security officials or members of 
paramilitary groups feel that they are doing good or being patriotic 
or defending the institutions through the use of violence and through 
the elimination of defenders in perfidious and cowardly crimes.

We, non-governmental human rights organizations, receive with 
indignation the condolences of a government that has delayed 
indefinitely the adoption of a serious and efficient protection policy 
for human rights defenders that allows the creation of favorable 
climate for the free exercise of our legitimate and necessary labor in 
any democratic society. 

Eduardo Umana Mendoza was from the beginning of the 70s, a 
tireless fighter for human rights. He dedicated his efforts, his 
intelligence, and his passion to the uncompromising defense, through 
the practise of law, through his ability to do research and 
investigations, through his exercise of criticism, and through polemics 
and public denunciations of grave human rights violations of the 
weakest and of those persecuted due to political reasons.

In 1977, he was an active member of the Foundation Solidarity 
Commission with Political Prisoners, and in 1978, together with other 
professionals also human rights defenders, he founded the 
Corporation Lawyers Collective "Jose Alvear Restrepo" (Corporacion 
Colectivo de Abogados "Jose Alvear Restrepo"), in which he 
participated until 1994. Since then, he continued practicing his 
brilliant labor from a corner of his home, where today, the 
murderers entered to end his life.

We, non-governmental human rights organizations, express to 
Professor Eduardo Umana Luna, to his wife and to his family our 
deep sorrow and dismay for this abominable crime, as well as our 
feelings of solidarity and support in these ill-fated times.

At the same time, we reiterate our demand to the President of the 
Republic to go beyond the rhetoric and enter the facts, to adopt 
urgent and efficient measures in order to protect the life and 
integrity of human rights defenders, of social, civic, peasant and 
union leaders, and of political opposition members, and to guarantee 
the free exercise of their legitimate activities.

We make a call to the Church, to the academicians, to the diverse 
organized social sectors and to the society in general, to recuperate 
their capacity to be astonished in the face of vicious crimes against 
those who, as in the case of Eduardo Umana Mendoza, have made a 
commitment to defend life and public freedoms, and to join the great 
national journey of mobilizations that, together with other sectors, 
we are going to summon in the upcoming days in order to repudiate 
this crime.

We call to an open meeting of the various sectors affected or 
disturbed by this crime, which will take place on the 19th of April, at 
2:00 p.m., at National University School of Law in this city. 

Given in Santafe de Bogota, on April 18, 1998. 


Colectivo de Abogados "Jose Alvear Restrepo" Comite de Solidaridad 
con los Presos Politicos Comision Colombiana de Juristas
Corriente de Renovacion Socialista
Corporacion Servicios Profesionales Comunitarios "Sembrar" CEUDES
Corporacion Nuevo Arco Iris
UNEB- Seccional Bogota Cundinamarca
Asociacion para la Promocion Social Alternativa -- MINGA Centro del 
Estudio del Trabajo -- CESTRA Observatorio para la Paz
Colegio Nacional de Periodistas


The Corporation Lawyers Collective "Jose Alvear Restrepo" 
(Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados "Jose Alvear Restrepo"), an 
organization that deals with legal assistance, firmly REPUDIATES the 
murder of Dr. Eduardo Umana Mendoza.

Eduardo always fought so that the truth could be said, above all that 
truth that reveals the abuses perpetrated thanks to the criminal 
exercise of a power that punishes its opponents.

Faced with the ignominy of a regime that squelches all voice of 
protest and all calls for justice, Eduardo contributed to the foundation 
of numerous organizations that defend human rights in Colombia. 

A founding member of the Corporation Lawyers Collective "Jose 
Alvear Restrepo", he worked for fifteen years with us, leaving the 
mark of his serious work, of his total dedication to the defenses and 
cases he undertook, of the profound investigations he made, all of 
which become, in the face of his death, the reaffirmation of the 
struggle for the full realization of human rights in our land. 

Worried and in order to plant seed that would allow the germination 
of a nation free of the ignominy of a dirty war, he contributed to the 
formation of The Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, of 
the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared-ASFADES, of the 
Corporation SEMBRAR, of MINGA, etc. Many times we heard 
members of the high echelons of the Armed Forces point to these 
organizations as part of organized crime, discrediting any work in 
lieu of human rights and creating a climate conducive to Eduardo's 

He was part of numerous international organizations of human rights, 
in which he was amply recognized for his work. He was member of 
the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples, of the international bureau of 
the World Organization Against Torture, was representative of 
ACNUR in Colombia, was an academician and a university professor, 
who always used his knowledge to serve justice causes and the 
defense of democratic freedoms. 

A s jurist of extensive experience in the defense of political 
prisoners, Eduardo contributed to the peace processes, as in the case 
of the dialogues with M-19, EPL, PRT, and the Quintin Lame, assisting 
their members in judicial proceedings, such as the reprieve, to aid in 
their reincorporation into civilian life. He also helped the National 
Constitutional Assembly, striving to see represented the democratic 
yearnings of the Colombian people.

Eduardo, convinced always of the inherent right of peoples to self-
determination, to protest, and to unioni, neighborhood, student, 
peasant, and popular organization, assumed the defense of popular 
leaders criminally prosecuted and jailed just for the "crime" of 
defending their rights or dissent from the official policies. 

He also denounced the way the "justice without a face" became an 
instrument of political persecution on the part of the State through 
the use of false evidence, witnesses without a face, clonation of 
witnesses, etc., as in the case of the defense he made of union leaders 
of TELECOM, USO, UNEB, ANUC, ONIC, and many popular organizations 
criminalized for their opposition to the antipopular policies of various 

Eduardo always believed in the equality of peoples and never 
wavered in his desire to serve citizens of other nationalities, as in the 
case of four Dominicans detained in Colombia accused of belonging to 
insurgent movements. This case was presented before the United 
Nations, body that declared the Colombian State responsible for the 
arbitrary detention of these individuals.

A convinced democrat, Eduardo always refused to follow the game of 
a State that applies a policy of persecution against any trace of 
inconformity, what he called "dirty war" or State-sponsored 
terrorism. During the Turbay administration, he organized the 
defense of political prisoners on trial in Military Tribunals. Years 
later, faced with the Massacre at the Palace of Justice, Eduardo 
denounced the disapparition of dozens of people that left the 
building alive and never made it to their homes. 

The horrible murder of Dr. Umana Mendoza attempts against the 
democratic freedoms that he symbolized and led. In his memory, we 
must assume with increased strength the banner of the struggle for 
democratic freedoms and rights.

All who wish for a Colombia free of inequalities, all the mothers and 
relatives who while crying for their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, 
or parents, found in Eduardo, in his work, a seed of justice and 
freedom; the popular leaders that suffer State persecution; all who 
follow his steps and work for the defense human rights, will never 
forget him nor will allow that his assassination be relegated to 

Eduardo always struggled against a State that builds itself on 
ignominy, on a dirty war, on terror, on hunger, on poverty, on 
corruption and on the exclusion of the great majority. That State, and 
only that State is responsible for his death as it is for the deaths of 
countless popular leaders, more so, when his death is framed in the 
systematic plan that has been responsible for the deaths of Josue 
Giraldo Cardona of the Civic Committee of Meta Department, Victor 
Julio Garzon of FENSUAGRO, Jesus Maria Valle of the Permanent 
Commission on Human Rights, Maria Arango Fonnegra, ex-member of 
the PCC, etc.

We demand the punishment of his murderers, of the intellectual and 
material culprits of the crime.

The Corporation Lawyers Collective "Jose Alvear Restrepo" 
(Corporacion Colectivo de Abogados "Jose Alvear Restrepo") 

April 18, 1998

>Personeria Juridica 1292 of 1980 - Minjusticia 


The Human Rights Collective Freedom Seeds (El Colectivo de Derechos 
Humanos Semillas de Libertad), which encompasses the organizations 
that sign this communique, expresses to the national and 
international communities its repudiation of the ignominious and 
abominable murder suffered today by the lawyer and defender of 
human rights, JOSE EDUARDO UMANA MENDOZA, in events that took 
place this afternoon, April 18, 1998, in Santafe de Bogota. 


1.- JOSE EDUARDO UMANA MENDOZA participated actively since the 
70s in defense of human rights in Colombia, through his participation 
on the development of various non-governmental organizations. 

2.-	His role in defense of political prisoners was a constant
throughout his professional life. In each of the processes he 
participated, he was characterized for his undefeated urge for justice 
to prevail. Never did he doubt in denouncing openly and without 
beating about the bush the role of the Military Penal Justice as a 
factor in the violation of the human rights of the persons submitted 
to it, as well as an instrument of impunity favoring the members of 
the Public Forces. 

At the present time, he was continuing his tireless labor and, with 
clarity, had pointed to the role of the Attorney General's Office, which 
in open collusion and connivance with the Public Forces, was 
preparing and designing penal processes in order to attempt against 
union and social organizations, part of which the nation remembers 
as what happened to the leaders of the Union Sindical Obrera, USO. 

3- At the same time, Eduardo was tireless in his struggle for human 
rights. His denunciation of the murders of indigenous, union, and 
peasant leaders led him to point publicly to the nets that worked 
within the security organizations of the State, and to the 
responsibility of military intelligence in the implementation of the 
dirty war. As part of his activity, he zeroed on his efforts to solve the 
forced disapparition of more that 12 people in the events at the 
Palace of Justice, achieving a declaration of responsibility of the 
Colombian State in the execution of these Crimes Against Humanity.

4- Eduardo was always characterized by the depth and sharpness of 
his analysis of the national and international situation, which he 
shared frequently through academic teaching as well as in meetings 
with communities and popular organizations. All of it, and also the 
recognition that he enjoyed among the international community for 
his commitment for the dignity, the justice, and the rights of peoples, 
made him worthy of being named Judge of the Permanent Tribunal 
of the Peoples. 

Today there do not remain any doubts about the real governmental 
policy about human rights, in which all that counts is the 
international image, leaving aside the implementation of serious, 
decisive, and efficient measures in order to overcome the grave 
human rights crisis that Colombia currently undergoes.

The national and international communities must reflect upon the 
motives that led to the crimes against JOSE EDUARDO UMANA 
MENDOZA, as well as against the lawyer JESUS MARIA VALLE 
JARAMILLO, which take place only days after the Colombian 
government got US certification, and after the President of the 
Human Rights Commission of the United Nations presented a 
declaration in which he recognized the efforts that were being made 
on the part of the authorities.

We express our feelings of solidarity to Eduardo's relatives and 
friends, as well as our repudiation and indignation for the abrupt 
death of a great human rights defender.

We cannot falter in the face of these criminal acts since they pretend 
to generate intimidation and terror in order to obtain impunity and 
to silence all who fight for truth, justice, and dignity. We call on 
human rights, neighborhood, student, peasant, union, and social 
organizations to mobilize together and denounce widely this 
abominable crime. 

We call on the international community to raise its most energetic 
voice of protest before the Colombian government and to obtain the 
suspension of all military aid to Colombia, as a means to make clear 
to the Colombian people its will to contribute in the reduction of 
human rights violations. 

Medellin, April 18, 1998


Corporación Jurídica Libertad
Corporación Sembrar
Asfaddes Sec. Medellín
Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos Comité de Derechos 
Humanos de Segovia
Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Oriente Unido Corporación 
Procuradores Comunitarios
Asociación Campesina de Antioquia
Asociación Nacional de Ayuda Solidaria Sec Valle de Aburrá 
Secretaría de Derechos Humanos de Futran Comunidades Eclesiales de 

Translated by:
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701
(608) 257-8753 fax (608) 255-6621

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