Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Threats, stigmatization, and harassment against leaders continue in southern Bolivar

27 July 2017

The Southern Bolivar and Central & Southern Cesar Dialogue Commission (CISBCSC) denounces to the national and international community, social organizations, human rights defenders, supervisory authorities and entities, the following facts that constitute violations of the human right to life and physical integrity.

FACTS

1. On 2 July 2017, FELIPE PEÑA VELASQUEZ, President of the community action association (JAC) of the village of San Rafael and legal representative of the Association of Small-scale Fishers of San Rafael (ASOPASAR), was threatened and intimidated while talking with some friends in the cantina of Aníbal Pallares, located in the village of San Rafael of the town of Arenal Sur, Bolívar department, by an unknown individual brandishing a pistol, who told him “that he had orders to kill Peña but was not going to do so right then because he had checked and ascertained that he is a good person with no money, but that he would have to leave the region if he wanted to stay alive”; the aggressor told him not to move until he left on his motorcycle, headed for the town centre. Apparently, he had been tailing Peña.

Prior to this incident, Mr. Díaz had received a phone call demanding that he pay protection money as president of ASOPASAR and threatening him that he would have to leave the region or become a military target if he failed to pay.

2. Felipe Peña Velásquez is the brother of the community leader and human rights defender ROMULO PEÑA VELASQUEZ, a show host on the Negrita Stereo community radio station, a spokesperson for the Cimarrona Casimira Olave Arrincon Amelá Community Council of Black Communities in Resistance, a spokesperson for CISBCSC, and a member of the Congress of the Peoples (CDP), who, on 9 June 2017 around 4:10 p.m, was en route from the village of San Rafael to the town centre of Arenal, on the section of road known as the Goya farm sewer system, when four officers from the Arenal municipal police station honked for him to get off the motorcycle, searched him, and photographed him.

According to community members, the mayor of Arenal had ordered the police to tail this man, and had even stated at meetings that “you better keep an eye on that one.”

Similarly, the mayor had repeatedly made false representations to the Ministry of Education of Bolívar department in an attempt to have this community leader removed from the region.

ROMULO PEÑA VELASQUEZ, in addition to his role as a community leader and a human rights defender, is a teacher at the Ema Troncoso Rabelo school in the village of Buenavista and a member of the teachers’ union, who was appointed to his position under educational statute no. 2277.

These facts have caused serious concern, given that the intention is to get rid of this teacher at all costs and that the above-mentioned incidents of harassment by the police and threats against his family members, such as his brother FELIPE PEÑA VELASQUEZ, have occurred.

3. On 4 July 2017, at a meeting of the town council of Gamarra, Cesar department, attended by community leaders and the Municipal Attorney, mention was made of two individuals identified as members of the criminal investigation unit (SIJIN) who were inquiring as to which leaders and social processes are members of CISBCSC — another instance of attempts to stigmatize and persecute the social movement.

4. On 12 June 2017, a group of community leaders made representations to the Office of the Attorney General of Colombia to the effect that it is no crime to be a community leader, that we do not oppose being investigated but do insist that we be informed of the matters for which such investigations take place. Under our agreement with the Office, its legal counsel is supposed to inform us of any such matters. The facts related above, involving individuals sent by the Office to investigate CISBCSC leaders in the town of Gamarra, constitute clear evidence of failure by the Office to comply with the agreement.

WE THEREFORE REQUEST:

The solidarity and assistance of Colombian and international human rights organizations.


WE DEMAND THAT:

– The Government of Colombia provide guarantees of the free exercise of our leadership in the region and put an end to the covert investigation, stigmatization, persecution, and threats against our leaders.
– The Office of the Attorney General of Colombia investigate this complaint and take all necessary measures to resolve it.

Southern Bolivar and Central & Southern Cesar Dialogue Commission
(CISBCSC)

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN
President of the Republic of Colombia
Telephones: 5662071, Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71
Email: comunicacionesvp@presidencia.gov.co
Address: Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño - Bogotá

GUILLERMO RIVERA
Minister of the Interior
Telephone: (571) 2427400 Ext 1200 - 1203.
Email: servicioalciudadano@mininterior.gov.co
Address: Casa La Giralda: Carrera 8 No. 7- 83, Bogotá.

NÉSTOR HUMBERTO MARTÍNEZ NEIRA
Fiscal General de la Nación
Telephones: 570 20 00 - 414 90 00
Email: contacto@fiscalia.gov.co, denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co
Address: Diagonal 22B No. 52-01. Bogotá, D.C.

CARLOS ALFONSO NEGRET MOSQUERA
Defensor del Pueblo Nacional
Telephone: (1) 314 40 00 Exts: 2315 – 2316
Email: defensoria@defensoria.org.co
Address: Carrera 9 No.16-21 Piso 11 Bogotá D.C

FERNANDO CARRILLO
Procurador General de la Nación
Telephone: (1) 587850 - 018000910315
Email: anticorrupcion@presidencia.gov.co,
quejas@procuraduria.gov.co
Address: Cra. 5 No.15 – 80F Bogotá D.C.

TODD HOWLAND
Representative in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office in Bogotá, D.C.:
Telephone: (571) 658 3300, Fax (57-1) 658 3301
Email: quejas@hchr.org.co

Author: 
Comisión de Interlocución del Sur de Bolívar, Centro y Sur del Cesar

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