More Threats Against Human Rights Activists in Bogota, Sucre and Narino

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 4 July 2011

Leaders of Movice, the Colombian national victims’ movement, have again been receiving paramilitary death threats in several regions of the country. In the capital, a June 19th threat from the ‘Black Eagles’ paramilitaries gave human rights defenders Alfonso Castillo and Ruby Castano, and Congressman Ivan Cepeda 20 days to leave the city or be killed. This threat followed others received on the 2nd of June which were signed by the ‘Rastrojos’ paramilitaries as well as ones from August last year that sentenced several Movice members to death.

For members of Movice’s Sucre chapter, in northern Colombia, the latest round of threats began on the 9th of June, continuing during June, with the latest on June 21st. This latest threat was sent to activist Ingrid Vergara. The threat ended with “This was your last visit you faggot guerrilla gonorrhoea”

The Sucre chapter of MOVICE has been victim of more than 100 attacks against its members since its foundation in 2006. Among them the killings of Rogelio Martinez on May 18th 2010, and Eder Verbel Rocha on 23rd March 2011. MOVICE Sucre has also been subjected to repeated threats, thefts, physical assaults and assassination attempts. Carmelo Agamez, one of the political prisoners JFC campaigns for, is also a leading member of MOVICE Sucre. He is currently imprisoned on charges of 'conspiracy to commit crime' and is being held in Corozal prison without having been convicted. He was arrested after exposing links between regional politicians and paramilitaries.

The latest threats coincide with MOVICE Sucre accompanying displaced communities attempting to return to their land on the La Europa farm, which is currently illegally occupied by the Don Juanco Arepas Company. Such threats and violence are the reason why many Colombian victims’ organisations have said the government’s Land and Victims law is insufficient, since it provides no guarantees for those attempting to return to their lands.

In Narino, activists in Movice’s FUNDEPAZ human rights organisation have been receiving threats since 2007. Recently they have targeted human rights and LGBT organisations in Pasto, with one transgender person being killed in March this year for their work in an LGBT organisation.

On April 4th FUNDEPAZ received a phone threat which said “if you don’t stop your campaign to corrupt society you’ll be executed you sons of whores.” The threat was signed by the Hitlerite Brotherhood of Pasto. On June 2nd another threat signed by the Rastrojos Urban Commandos was received which read “we will begin to exterminate the leadership of these organisations and their collaborators without pity.” The latest threat was received on June 22nd by Jesús Arciniegas, the Director of FUNDEPAZ. It said “you’ll be the next victims.”

It is clear that the level of threats against organisations campaigning to protect human rights in Colombia is not decreasing. Movice is calling on the government to fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law, and provide adequate protection for the lives and work of those fighting to defend the human rights of Colombian citizens.

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