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On May 13, 2021, our organizations received sensitive accounts of absolutely horrific police conduct and practices which, if true, must be shocking to anyone with a human conscience. These accounts show that when there is a mentality at the highest levels of government that defines young demonstrators as “terrorist vandals” and issues the corresponding orders against them, they become targets and victims of criminal designs, with the gravest consequences imaginable.

Starting on May 14, accounts began filtering in of the existence of mass graves in rural parts of the towns of Buga and Yumbo, where it appears that the bodies of many young residents of Cali have been taken.

Just days ago, a new and more specific source conveyed further sensitive information to the effect that on Sunday, May 2, the Municipal Administrative Center (CAM) was used as a center for covert operations. Some youths were taken to basements and then, hours later, carried away in vans with tinted windows.

Two later sources reported on the comings and goings of vans that appear to belong to the police’s fleet. These sources report that young people were taken in the middle of the night to the sector known as Mulaló in the town of Yumbo, 30 minutes from Cali. There, at a previously prepared site, they dumped the bodies of young people from working-class barrios who had participated in the demonstrations and were reported as disappeared.

The sources further indicate that other detainees, some reported as disappeared by their friends or families, are alleged to have been “eliminated” in the village of Guacarí near the town of Buga, 45 minutes from Cali. Some of the survivors of this extrajudicial activity showed up with firearm injuries at health centers in a state of terror and have now gone into hiding.

Today, May 23, an even more sensitive and disturbing version of the operations of the armed civilian groups that enjoy police protection was learned: a “chop-up house” (casa de pique), where bodies are dismembered before being disposed of, is said to have been set up in the exclusive Cali neighborhood of Ciudad Jardín.

Family members shared with our organization the names of some young people who were detained and taken to a police facility in Meléndez, after which their whereabouts became unknown.

The repressive practices used by the authorities have become more sophisticated over the last three and a half weeks, in an attempt to cover the tracks leading to police responsibility for criminal paramilitary operations. Given the absence of guarantees of fundamental rights, we call on the government entities in charge of investigation and protection, and in particular the Disappeared Persons Search Unit, to do their duty based on this breaking news.

Given the manifest lack of impartiality exhibited by the Attorney General’s office throughout the general strike, special oversight is critical in order ensure the legality and efficacy of the ongoing investigations.

What with the well-founded fear expressed by the witnesses for their lives, bodily integrity, and freedom, forensic measures must be adopted that are commensurate with the scale of the required judicial investigation.

The witnesses fear that the police could apply strategies of pressure and intimidation, and that they may attempt to cover their tracks by killing more young people and/or their families.

Based on these accounts, which provide reasonable grounds to assert the existence of sophisticated criminal designs in which the National Police may be participating, and given how the regular police forces have operated since April 28—as well as General Zapateiro’s statements to the effect that he will uphold the government’s military response to the demonstrations—we wish to leave a public record here of the information received.

In view of the duty to guarantee citizens’ fundamental rights, including the right to the truth, the Colombian government must act effectively and efficiently to investigate the hypotheses derived from the factual basis presented here, beyond the rhetoric of “exhaustive investigations” and court testimony as the sole basis for investigation.

We reiterate that the Colombian government must, based on this public historical record, immediately involve experts from the Forensic Medicine Institute and the Disappeared Persons Search Unit and allow for the participation of observers from domestic and international humanitarian organizations. Furthermore, it must take immediate measures to ensure that there is an effective, independent investigation that either corroborates or refutes the witnesses’ accounts.

This is the list of persons reported as disappeared, as compiled by the Universidad del Valle from April 28 to today:

Alejandro Castro

  1. Alejandro Duque González
  2. Alejandro Hoyos Salgado
  3. Alexander Martínez
  4. Andrés Arango
  5. Andrés Felipe Gómez Rivadeneira
  6. Angie Amaya
  7. Antony Jaramillo
  8. Antony López Brando Molina
  9. Brando Stiven Blandón Pérez
  10. Brayan Cavadias
  11. Brayan Steven Rayo
  12. Bryan Steven Mesa
  13. Bryan Varela
  14. Camila Jaramillo
  15. Carlos Alberto Vásquez Usma
  16. Carlos Andrés Benavides
  17. Carlos Castillo
  18. Carlos Mayorc
  19. Claudia Ospina
  20. Cristian Andrés Ocampo
  21. Cristian Camilo Duque
  22. Cristian Estiven Rentería Valencia
  23. Cristian Zúñiga
  24. Cristopher Rodriguez
  25. Daniel Becerra
  26. Daniel Steven Bonilla
  27. Daniel Zuluaga García
  28. Devi Alezander Ovalle Cabrera
  29. Deivy Alexis Gómez
  30. Devin Alegría Camacho
  31. Deyvi Farley Orozco
  32. Diana Cruz
  33. Diana Marcela Betancour Rodriguez
  34. Diana Ruiz Diego Botero
  35. Eduardo Galeano
  36. Edwin Santiago Martínez Garcés
  37. Elberth Orozco
  38. Esteban Rodríguez
  39. Estiven Jaramillo
  40. Estiven Marulanda
  41. Fabier Londoño Medina
  42. Felipe Arias Felipe Ruiz
  43. Francisco Durán
  44. Francisco Javier García
  45. Héctor Valencia
  46. Heilen Bravo
  47. Isabella Martinez
  48. Jesús David Lozano
  49. Jhon Alexander Aguirre
  50. Jhonatan Lenis
  51. Joan Francisco Herrera
  52. Joan Stiven Vélez
  53. Job Alejandro Moreno
  54. Johan Esteban Torres Urbano
  55. Jorge Alexander Lozano Perez
  56. Jose David Hurtado Moreno
  57. Jose Esteban C Angulo
  58. Juan Camilo Maiman
  59. Juan Camilo Pérez
  60. Juan Camilo Sánchez
  61. Juan Carlos Gironza Hoyos
  62. Juan Carlos Peña Meneses
  63. Juan Diego Ulloa
  64. Juan Esteban Alvarez
  65. Juan Pablo Gutiérrez
  66. Juan Pablo Guzman Rodríguez
  67. Karol López
  68. Kelvin Josué Plaza Castillo
  69. Kevin Aguilar
  70. Kevin Alexis Bedoya
  71. Kevin Jiménez
  72. Kevin Perea
  73. Kevin Stiven Rodiguez Motavita
  74. Leonardo Andrés Villegas Arana
  75. Lizeth Arévalo
  76. Lizeth Valencia
  77. Luis Dayan Montes Betancourt
  78. Luis Fernando Chávez
  79. Luis Mario Maicol
  80. Andrés Medina Ortiz
  81. Manuela Ruiz Taborda
  82. Marcela Valencia
  83. Marco Andrés Arango
  84. María Angélica Cano
  85. María del Carmen Carabai Barrera
  86. Mario Alberto Arcila Martínez
  87. Marvin Santiago Trejos
  88. Mauricio Cáceres
  89. Michele Arteaga
  90. Michell Torres
  91. Miguel Angel Escobar
  92. Miguel Ángel Henao
  93. Miguel Bolaños
  94. Mónica Mosquera
  95. Nicolás Flórez
  96. Nicolas Suarez
  97. Oscar Eduardo Arroyo
  98. Ramiro Parmenio
  99. Robert Steven Londoño Ospina
  100. Santiago Muñoz Quiroga
  101. Santiago Cruz
  102. Santiago Posada
  103. Santiago Arce
  104. Sebastián Arce
  105. Sebastián Cortés
  106. Sebastián Escobar
  107. Sebastián Ospina
  108. Sofia del Mar Gaviria
  109. Steven Riveros
  110. Valentina Campos
  111. Valentina Marin Quintero
  112. Valentina Ramirez Sánchez
  113. Valeria Serna Vanessa Navia
  114. Verónica Valencia
  115. Víctor Manuel Agudelo
  116. Wilson Loaiza
  117. Afro-Colombian female, adolescent, age 13
  118. Person arbitrarily detained at Meléndez, 08.05.21
  119. Person arbitrarily detained at Meléndez, 08.05.21
Equipo Jurídico y Humanitario 21 N, Corporación Justicia y Dignidad, Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz