Sign on, Colombia Human Rights: University under Attack

Request for Signatures:
Sign on Letter, to defend Students and Professors at the National
University of Colombia in Bogota, where Death Squads from Countryside 
now threatening

FROM: Pilar Hernandez, University of Massachusetts.

 I am writing this letter to request your support for professors and
 students in the National University of Colombia at Bogota, who are under
 threat from right wing squads.  At the end of this letter is a petition.
 I request you sign the sample and send it back to me
(  as soon as possible, so that I can forward it to the 
concerned authorities.  I am also enclosing the addresses of relevant persons 
to whom I would request you to contact directly as well.

 Colombia's ongoing civil war is at one of its worse stages since last
 year.  Since the formation of paramilitary groups (death squads who work
 for land owners, narcotraffickers, and generally the extreme right) by the
 military in 1985, the country has suffered a tremendous wave of violence
 against anyone who expresses an opinion.  Many public figures have been
 killed and many towns have been massacred.  Last year, there was a
 horrible massacre in the town of Mapiripan, and another one this year.
 Some weeks ago, a lawyer and human rights activist was assassinated, last
 week there was a trmendous massacre in the city of Barrancabermeja.
 Civilians were accused of being guerrilla supporters, taken out of their
 homes and killed.  Others remain as hostages.  Anyone can be suspected of
 being a leftist and therefore, be killed.  The list of atrocities has no
 end.  Now, the public univerisities are under threat and an attack is

 These paramilitary groups attack towns and people following a process of
 intimidation which starts with their sending messages, leaving death
 animal bodies and several signals to announce their intentions.  When they
 attack, they make sure that people see how their family members are killed
 and tortured and destroy their bodies in horrible ways and leave them in
 public view.  Their intimidation tactics are public and horrific, and they
 do go to the places the announce.  Most massacres have been announced.
 However, the government does not follow any preventive measures and the
 military becomes blind until actions are finished.

 This is yet another case of an announced massacre by these groups.
 Colombia is in war and the government does not take action.  We need a
 strong support from the international community.

 -----This is the letter sent by students at the National University,
 Bogota-----(my translation)


 The students of the National University at Bogota, express to the national
 and international community our concern because there are serious
 indicators pointing at the paramilitary groups taking action against the
 university students which have actively participated in the student

 Our preocupation is founded in the following:

 1) On May 13th, the self defense groups -or paramilitary groups-, sent a
 communique to a radio station, Radio NET, expressing their INCREASED
 interest in strengthening their actions in urban areas of the country,
 especially for "cleaning the public universities from subversives",
 markedly the National University of Colombia.

 2) The news paper EL TIEMPOfrom May 22nd, published that during the 
second main reunion of the United Self Defense groups of Colombia 
(Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia -AUC), meton May 15-17, they created 
three new paramilitary fronts that will have action in the Santander, 
Casanare and Cundinamarca regions.  According to a document exclusively 
known by EL TIEMPO, the paramilitary has made great effort to strengthen in 
the last two regions mentioned above.

 3) In the last 3 days, activists from different student organizations have
 been victims of death threats by phone calls.

 4) On May 21st a person who is close to the paramilitary groups
 communicated that in the next days, they are preapring an incursion at the
 National University of Colombia at Bogota, in order to intimidate the
 university community in general and attempt against the lives of activists
 and leaders.

 Because of these facts and taking into account the acute state of the
 dirty war from the extreme right, expressed in the assassination of social
 leaders and Human Rights activists, in massacres against civilians not
 involved in the armed conflict, and in the criminalization of any social
 protest, we ask the intervention of civilian authorities to PREVENT
 attempts against the life and integrity of activists and student leaders,
 who are part of the cultural, artistic and discussion and publication

 We ask the national and international Human Rights non-governmental
 organizations, and the media to demand from the Colomiban governmental 
and state instances, the following:

 a) to immediately adopt the necessary actions to protect the life and
 integrity of students, professors and staff at the National University.

 b) to immediately stop the repressive actions against human rights
 activists, organizations and social movements.

 Santa Fe de Bogota, May 22, 1998.

 Addresses to send letters:

 S.E. Doctor Ernesto Samper Pizano, Presidente de la Republica de Colombia,
 palacio de Narino, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia.
 Fax: 011-571-2842186  Mail to

 Doctor Alfonso Gomez Mendez, Fiscal General de la Nacion,
 Diagonal 22-B, No. 52-01, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia
 fax; 011-571-3203783

 Doctor Gustavo castro Caidedo, Defensor del Pueblo,
 Calle 55 No. 10-32, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia
 fax: 011-571-3461225  Mail to:

 Doctor Gilberto Echeverri Mejia, Ministro de Defensa,
 Avenida El Dorado con carrera 52, CAN, Santa Fe de Bogota, CAN, Colombia
 Fax: 011-571-2213653

 General Mario Hugo Galan Rodriguez, Comandante del Ejercito,
 Avenida El Dorado con carrera 52 CAN, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia.
 Fax: 011-571-2218941

 General Luis Enrique Montenegro R., Director Departamento 
Administrativo de Seguridad DAS.
 Carrera 28 No. 17A-00 Paloquemao, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia

 General jose Manuel Bonett Lorcano, Comandante de las Fuerzas Militares,
 Avenida El Dorado con carrera 52 CAN, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia
 Fax: 011-571-2218941

 The following is the text for a letter, the Spanish version of which I
 will circulate to the above addresses in the Colombian government.  This
 is the letter I am requesting you to endorse:

 S.E. Doctor Ernesto Samper Pizano, President of the Republic of Colombia,

 We the undersigned, are writing to express our extreme outrage at the
 current threat to the students and professors of the National University
 of Colombia by paramilitary death squads.

 The regime of intimidation and assassination by the paramilitary squads
 has been left unchecked by your government, and we feel that it not only
 points toward the ineffectivenes of the government in protecting its
 civilians, but also underscores a suspicious lack of governmet will to
 tackle this menace.

 Social change and progress can only be possible when the intellectuals and
 the students are able to peak out and against oppression, and by not
 protecting the intellectuals and sutdents of Colombia from intimidation
 and death, the government is silently condoning the end of freedom of
 thought and expression.  Our younger generations do not deserve to
 continue inheriting the violence and state repression that we have
 inherited since the fifities.

 Today the threat is against public universities and tomorow anyone in any
 university who dares to express an opinion will be targeted by the
 paramilitary squads.  We request that the government demonstrates genuine
 political will to protect the life and integrity of professors, students
 and staff at the National University, and to stop pressive actions agaisnt
 human rights activists and social movements.


 Pilar Hernandez,doctoral candidate, University of Massachusetts
--your name here--

SIGN and return to Pilar Hernandez, University of Massachusetts.

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