Peace Community Reports New Threats
News from Colombia |
on: Sunday, 27 March 2011
The inhabitants of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community have reported a series of threats against them by paramilitaries acting together with the Colombian army. The Peace Community was set up in 1997 as a neutral place that neither the government nor guerrillas were meant to enter. Despite this the inhabitants have been victims of persistent persecution, especially by paramilitaries and the army, and over a hundred locals have been killed since it was set up.
The report notes that on the 12th of March the community was visited by several motorbike-riding armed paramilitaries who patrolled the settlements making verbal threats against the inhabitants. On the 15th of March local radio broadcast an army report saying that a soldier had been killed by the FARC inside the Peace Community territory, an allegation that the Community says is completely false. The same day troops had set up checkpoints around the Community’s settlements subjecting the inhabitants to repeated searches.
While the army was surrounding the area, Robinson Gomez, a man with known paramilitary links entered the settlement looking for a local who he had previously threatened. After asking around the village for a while, he left and was picked up by an army lorry which transported him to the army’s 17th Brigade headquarters. Later in the day a man known as “Zamir” - one of the government’s so-called ‘peace managers’ - called the community to say that Robinson Gomez was with him at the 17th Brigade’s headquarters, and that they were going to carry out some form of ‘action’ against the Peace Community. Immediately the Community’s legal representative phoned the 17th Brigade HQ, but was told that neither the ‘Peace Manager’ nor Robinson Gomez were there.
The Community complains that this demonstrates yet again the extent of military links to the paramilitaries. They accuse the armed forces of protecting the paramilitaries and using them to attack the Peace Community, whilst distorting the reality of the situation with lies in order to avoid justice.