Peasant Farmers Call on Army to End Executions
News from Colombia |
on: Saturday, 15 March 2008
A national campaign of solidarity was yesterday launched in the Colombian capital Bogota to draw attention to the ongoing murders of peasant farmers by soldiers operating in the 'Rio Cimitarra' region of central Colombia. At the launch event human rights groups reported on 15 cases from the region where the Colombian Army had murdered farmers and subsequently presented their bodies as if they were guerrillas that had been killed in combat.
The 'Rio Cimitarra' region lies on the borders of Antioquia and Bolivar departments and the group representing farmers in the area – the Cimitarra Peasant Farmers' Association (ACVC) – has repeatedly denounced the conduct of Colombian Army units operating there. The response has been a systematic campaign targeting ACVC leaders, six of whom are currently being held in prison without having been convicted of any crime.
The ACVC, who say that despite the persecution they intend to continue trying to raise awareness about the killings, pointed out that the security forces have been repeatedly condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for their practice of detaining and executing civilians and then claiming that they were killed in combat.
The Colombian authorities response to the ACVC's work to highlight the situation has been to issue arrest warrents for six more of the Association's leaders. All have been accused of 'rebellion'. The ACVC claim that the authorities are attempting to destroy the organisation in an effort to make it easier to force the peasants from their land in the region. It is known that the 'Rio Cimitarra' area contains valuable mineral wealth and other natural resources.