Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Grave human rights situation in the National Strike denounced

5 June 2016

According to the People’s Congress, there are 134 people detained in Santander*, 3 dead in the south-west part of the country and an undetermined number of injured people by actions of the public force against protesters.  In Tolima the Black Eagles threatened the social organizations in the region. In addition, new information has surfaced about the assassination of two indigenous people in Cauca and the forced miscarriage of two women due to attacks by the Police.

Detentions in Berlin

In the morning on June 3rd, peasants concentrated on the Bucaramanga –Pamplona highway initiated blockade actions as part of the Strike. In the midst of the protest, 134 protesters were detained whom are currently in the Infantry Battalion No. 13 “Gr. Custodio García Rovira,” where the Army impeded verification visits by Human Rights organisms. In the group of detainees there are 15 minors which are being held by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare.

According to sources present in the zone, “they have not even been given food or water, some students of the university had to bring them food last night. Also there are three wounded with bruises that appeared in the night, after the attack, and there is one disappeared.”

As of June 4 at 9pm the detained protesters in Berlin were freed after fierce lobbying by different human rights groups.

“You are ordered to stop the activities now”: Black Eagles

In the emails of social leaders from the Patriotic March, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, the People’s Congress, and the Environmental Committee of Tolima, a threatening pamphlet appeared signed by the central block of the Black Eagles. “You are ordered to stop the activities now. Nothing of the strike because we have you located and our militants will make you fall one by one,” they assure in the text.

In response to the situation, the human rights organizations sent out an early alert and they hope to have a meeting with local institutions to guarantee the life and well-being of the participants of the mobilizations.

Different versions about the deaths of the two indigenous people

The information given by the Institute of Legal Medicine about the investigation of the two indigenous people assassinated last Thursday in Cauca says that in the autopsy, the bodies of Marco Aurelio Diaz, 25 years old, and Gersaín Cerón, 29 years old, “present wounds from a projectile firearm, compatible with multiple load. The recovered elements establish that they correspond to unconventional artesanal material.”

In response to this, Mauricio Lectamo, the coordinator of The Fabric of the Defense of Life and Human Rights of the Association of Indigenous Councils of the North of Cauca –ACIN– assured: “It was an unconventional weapon, but the impact was not produced by a slingshot, it was a firearm with modified munition. It is not the first time that it the ESMAD has been denounced for using weapons that you load blunt objects into such as pellets, glass marbles, or so to speak modified munitions.”

The reports show that last Thursday in response to the blockade on the Panamericana, the Police prepared in the early morning and they fired in the zone where the population was. The first indigenous person was assassinated at 10:40 and the second at 11:30. The Police and the ESMAD were positioned together,  in the elevated part some meters away from the Panamericana highway and they began to shoot tear gas and bullets.

The shot was made from no more than 20 meters from the assassinated men and it was done with firearms, and because of that the impact caused the assassination of the two indigenous people.

No one has been held accountable yet

While the director of the Police, General Jorge Nieto stated that the ESMAD did not use firearms and did not kill the indigenous people. The vice minister of the Interior, Guillermo Rivera promised to respect and not to criminalize the strike.

The Minister of the Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo, called on the communities to “end aggressive and violent attitudes.” Nevertheless, the spokespeople of the Government have not spoken out about the gravity of the events that occurred in Berlin and have also not cleared up its responsibility in the killings of Marco Aurelio Diaz and Gersaín Cerón. The government sends contradictory messages that put at risk thousands of protesters and are currently on the highways of the country.

Sebastián Quiroga, spokesperson of the People’s Congress declared: “The Agrarian Summit communicated to the government, in a meeting with the Ministers of Agriculture, of the Interior, Post-Conflict, that we are in a critical human rights situation: more than 100 injured, more than 100 detained and three people dead in the six days of the activities.”

Quiroga indicated that the Agrarian Summit is asking the government to be true to its word: “They promised to give guarantees for this mobilization and we ask that they give a social and political treatment to the protest, not military and not war-like as they have been giving.” He added that the state delegates do not recognize the humanitarian crisis that is being presented in the midst of the mobilization, on the contrary they affirm that the people who were killed, according to the verdict of Legal Medicine, were victims of an unconventional arm, which according to the government, exempts the State from any responsibility: “From our perspective, the pronouncement of Legal Medicine ratifies that the Police are involved, it has been proved, in different instances, that the Public Force uses unconventional arms like ones with modified munitions to attack mobilizations.”

Finally, Quiroga brought up the petition of the Summit: “The demand is to create guarantees for the social and popular mobilization, give recognition to the mobilization that the Summit is carrying out and to be able to advance in the discussion of the Sole Plea.”


 

Author: 
Colombia Informa