Open Letter by the Human Rights Commission of the Congreso de los Pueblos

Version en español: Amenazas a Líderes, Defensores de Derechos Humanos, Organizaciones Sociales y de Derechos Humanos

Threats to Human Rights Leaders, and Social and Human Rights Organizations

We are in the middle of an historical moment for the future of our country marked by the openness to dialogue between the insurgency and the national government to seek the peace of Colombia. However, this political will and initiative, which is supported by a majority of the country, is at risk due to threats, violent acts and intimidation. The Águilas Negras, a paramilitary group, have initiated a national offensive against leaders, initiatives, and social organizations that struggle on behalf of human rights, democracy, the dignity of victims of violence, and peace for Colombia.

The Congreso del los Pueblos (Peoples' Congress) rejects the death threats against human rights leaders and social organizations in Bogotá, Barrancabermeja, Arauca and the Caribbean Coast made by paramilitary groups, and denounce them before the Colombian state and national government, public opinion, and the international community.

Facts
Bogotá
For the past three months, flyers have been circulating with threats signed by the Águilas Negras paramilitary group:

  • 24 October 2014 – The capital district bloc of the Águilas Negras reaffirm their presence in various sectors of the city, and declare that social leaders, public officials, and organizations that work for human rights are military targets.
  • 31 October 2014 – In a communiqué from the high command of the capital district bloc of the Águilas Negras threatened leaders from Bosa neighborhood, mainly those working for the capital district's Peoples' Housing Organization – who work with displaced communities – accusing them of encroachment and calling them parasites. It was written in the communiqué that there whereabouts, and those of their families, are known to them, further threatening them with "displacing or killing them without mercy."
  • 10 November 2014 – Another communiqué of the high command of the capital district bloc of the Águilas Negras announced that "fulfilling their promise to the citizens of the northern neighborhoods of the capital city, they will clean out all those who are [invading] the lands of the people of good faith of the neighborhood." They further declare that invaders will be finished, even if they have the support of the [political] left, and claim a penalty of death to social leaders and to displaced peoples.
  • 10 December 2014, Human Rights Day – The "Punpunpun Eviction Plan", from the high command of the capital district of the Águilas Negras, appears at the national Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation.
  • 11 January 2015 – A flyer from the capital district bloc of the Águilas Negras detailing a plan to cleanse political and community human rights leaders was distributed.

Our colleagues, Martha Reina and Mayerly Garzón, are often listed in multiple published threats. They are members of the Peoples' Congress, and of other social organziations in Bogotá. They have also been victims of tracking and other forms of harassment.

Atlantic Coast

  • 11 January 2015 – Flyers were left in the homes of colleagues Tomás Ramos and Emma Doris López, which identified human rights, union and political leaders and organizations that do human rights work as military targets. Among those organizations identified – Peoples' Congress, the Unión Patriótica, and the Marcha Patriótica. We also highlight the threat to our colleage Mary Lhoeste, spokesperson for the Peoples' Congress in the Costa Caribe, and to other members of the national process.

Barrancabermeja
We express concern for our colleague, Jhon Alexander Rodríguez, leader of the Unión Sindical Obrera, who received threats to his cellular phone reiterating past threats, and informing that him and his family have become military targets. On August 2014, our Jhon was a victim to an attach to his security vehicle, which received 50 bullet shots. Ecopetrol and the National Protection Unit promised to reinforce security for him and his family, but this promise has not been fulfilled to date.

Arauca

  • 6 January 2015 – Our colleague Oscar García, leader of the Unión Sindical Obrera in the City of Tame, was a victim of tracking, persecution, and gun fire (three shots) against his security vehicle. This his the second attempt against his life in six months.

The threats published include leaders of the Peoples' Congress who also collaborate with other social and human rights organizations, and are widely recognized for their work for the preservation of life, the protection of vulnerable communities, struggle for human rights, and peacemaking.

This threats have been communicated to the National Protection Unit of the Vice-presidency of the Republic without appropriate response, to date, in protecting the lives of those threatened.

Based on the facts, we require from the Colombian government to:

  • forward all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, liberty, personal security, physical and psychological integrity, to organize, and the good name and honor of the leaders and processes mentioned in the threats.
  • put in place the necessary legal proceeding to determine those responsible for developing the threats
  • encourage the Ministry of the Interior and the director of the Office of Human Rights of the Vice-presidency of the Republic to speak up about this threats, and to publicly announce the measures they will develop to deal with these threats.

To the Ombudsman
We encourage the Ombudsman to fulfill its constitutional role to look after and guarantee the constitutional rights to life, liberty, personal security, physical and psychological integrity, to organize, and the good name and honor of the threatened leaders and organizations.

We ask
Human Rights and Popular organizations to remain aware and vigilant to any infringement to the human rights of leaders and organizations in Bogotá, DC.

Human Rights Commission of the Peoples' Congress
ddhh@congresodelospueblos.org
www.congresodelospueblos.org

c. 

Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, President of the Republic of Colombia
Germán Vargas Lleras, Vice President of the Republic
Eduardo Montealegre, Attorney General of the Nation
Jorge Armando Otalora, (National) Ombudsman
Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado, Procurator General of the Nation
Juan Fernando Cristo, Minister of the Interior
Todd Howland, Colombia Representative, UN Human Rights High Commissioner
Luis Novoa, UN Human Rights High Commissioner Office – Colombia
John Henry Arango, Chief for Human Rights, National Police of Colombia