Colombia: increase in threats after president Uribe's declarations
AFTER PRESIDENT ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ MADE UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS
AGAINST SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS,
THREATS HAVE INCREASED
Two days after President Álvaro Uribe Vélez accused politicians who had demobilized from M-19 as “terrorists dressed in civilian clothes”, several social, labor, university and alternative press organizations received an email with a threat supposedly signed by paramilitary fronts, which call themselves New Generation Black Eagles (Nueva Generación Águilas Negras).
The president made these slanderous references in a speech he gave at a community council in Tierra Alta (Department of Córdoba). Later, he reaffirmed his unsubstantiated claims in several interviews with the mass media.
In this regard, it should be mentioned that in a communiqué issued on February 5 by Salvatore Mancuso, who is currently being held in the Itagui Prison (Department of Antioquia), even he accepted that “…the rearmament of the self-defense forces is a crude reality that we cannot avoid or minimize…”
However, it is obvious that it is not about rearmament of paramilitary organizations, rather that the so-called process of “negotiation” and “demobilization” did not lead to the real dismantlement of their structures. These paramilitary organizations have remained intact until the present day.
This threat was directed against the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes) and social, political, union and human rights organizations that openly lead denunciations concerning the cloak of impunity concealed behind the “negotiation process” with the paramilitary groups, and that have requested for there to be a thorough investigation on the responsibility of politicians from traditional parties, public servants and economic sectors in the commission of crimes against humanity. This threatening email comes just days after Senator Gustavo Petro announced plans to hold a debate in the national congress on the links between politicians, businessmen, and other sectors with paramilitarism in Antioquia (and after he confirmed that Santiago Uribe, brother of President Uribe, has been criminally investigated for links with paramilitaries, and especially for belonging to the group “The Twelve Apostles”).
In addition to these acts, there are also the murders of social leaders and leaders of victims´ organizations, such as YOLANDA IZQUIERDO and FREDDY ABEL ESPITIA, representatives of internally displaced persons in the processes being carried out against the heads of paramilitary groups. Likewise, threats and attacks have been made against different organizations, including the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas de Bolívar (League of Internally Displaced Women from Bolívar), whose community center in Ciudadela de la Paz (Turbaco, Department of Bolívar) was set on fire, the threats against the members of the Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes from the municipalities of San Onofre and Montes de Maria, as well as what occurred last January 23 to the Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz (Permanent Assembly of the Civil Society for Peace), which was once again the victim of the theft of databases and photographs of several members of organizations belonging to this coalition. The Permanent Assembly has repeatedly requested for security measures from the Human Rights Office of the Ministry of Interior; nevertheless it has yet to be attended.
We call upon the national and international community to demand that Colombian authorities:
1. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all and every one of the members belonging to the social, union, indigenous, university and human rights organizations that received this threatening email;
2. Guarantee the free exercise of human rights defense –as well as the freedom of expression, thought, dissent, and political participation- without suffering from any form of persecution;
3. Investigate, try, and punish with the appropriate legal force those responsible for the acts of persecution presently denounced;
4. Guarantee the immediate and effective dismantlement of the military, political and economic structures of paramilitarism, since these structures are presently being institutionalized and re-engineered;
5. Guarantee that victims of grave human rights violations may carry out their rights; and respect their organizations.
Additionally, we hold the national government directly responsible for any act against the members of the organizations that have received these threats. We also demand effective guarantees to continue in the fight against impunity and for truth, justice, and reparation.
Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes)
Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” – CCAJAR (José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers´ Collective)
Colectivo de Abogados “Luis Carlos Pérez” (Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers´ Collective)
Fundación Manuel Cepeda Vargas (Manuel Cepeda Vargas Foundation)
Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos – FCSPP (Foundation Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners)
Comité Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (Permanent Committee for Human Rights)
Frente Social y Político (Social and Political Front)
Asociación para la Promoción Social Alternativa – MINGA (Association for Social Alternative Promotion - MINGA)
Asociación Nacional de Ayuda Solidaria - ANDAS (National Association for Solidarity Assistance)
Sindicato de Trabajadores y Empleados Universitarios de Colombia - Sintraunicol (University Workers and Employees Union of Colombia)
Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria - Fensuagro (National Federation of Agricultural Union Workers)
Instituto de Servicios Legales Alternativos - ILSA (Institute for Alternative Legal Services)
Corporación para la Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos – Reiniciar (Corporation for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights)
Asociación de Profesores Universitarios – ASPU (Association of University Professors)
Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz (Permanent Assembly of the Civil Society for Peace)
Prensa Rural (Rural Press)
Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia - ONIC (National Indigenous Organization of Colombia)
Asociación Comunidad Motilón Barí de Colombia (Motilón Barí Community Association of Colombia)
Comunidad Indígena Kankuama Desplazada en Bogotá (Internally Displaced Kankuamo Indigenous Community in Bogotá)
Corporación Yira Castro (Yira Castro Corporation)
Justicia y Vida (Justice and Life)