Army Attacks Youths in Triana
News from Colombia |
on: Sunday, 3 April 2011
Local human rights organisations and trade unions report that troops of the ‘Rodrigo Lloreda Caicedo’ High Mountain Battalion assaulted youths returning from an afternoon football game on 18th March 2011. As dusk fell the youngsters were walking back to their neighbourhood when they ran into the army patrol. The troops stopped them and began pointing out one of the group. The troops began insulting the youths, calling them guerrillas and offering to fight them.
As the youths protested, the soldiers began hitting them with their rifles, eventually beating them with the rifle butts, separating one of the group from the rest and pushing him away from the settlement. Upon hearing the disturbance local people ran out of their houses and began approaching the patrol, which opened fire on them in response. They then began pushing the youths towards a nearby highway, beating them and trying to force them into the way of oncoming traffic, however as more people appeared the troops retreated.
Having rescued the youths the locals then took them to the nearby military base to complain to the battalion commander. However, they were not allowed in to the base, and soldiers shouted abuse and took photographs of them, accusing them of being guerrillas. Eventually an officer approached the gate and accused the youths of trying to steal his soldier’s rifles.
Human rights groups point out that between 1998 and 2002 the area was the scene of several massacres by paramilitaries who accused the local community of being ‘guerrilla auxiliaries’. Since then army soldiers have routinely stigmatised the local community, accusing them all of being guerrillas, and carrying out constant illegal searches of their homes and businesses.