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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Human Rights Violations in Arauca

Saravena - Aracauca, October 30, 2006

(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN translator)

The Human Rights Regional Committee of ³Joel Serra² Foundation publicly denounces to the nation and international community, through the national and international Network of Human Rights NGOs, the following facts:

On October 27 and 28, another period of persecution, stigmatization, and legal legitimation began against the Saravena social leaders and community in general. This time, in the township of Saravena, under the pretext of investigating previous crimes, more than 120 people were taken from their homes and businesses, from bars and cantinas, and detained by the district attorney¹s office, DAS, CTI, police, and army. They were taken to the headquarters in Batallón Revéiz Pizarro, where supposed resinserted men from the armed groups of the opposition were the ones who selected the 19 people who today find themselves charged and under investigation in the installations of the DAS and the police of the capital of Arauca.

The charged persons are:
… Vicente Vera            Affiliated with the drivers¹ union
… Mriela Panbón            Mother and head of household
… Doris García            Social worker in the San Ricardo Pampuri Hosptial of
Saravena and affliliated with ANTHOC
… Donaldo Aizalón Rueda    Construction worker
… Alvaro Pinto            Secretary of the J.A.C. of the Playas del Bojabá
… William Efrain Higuera    Worker in the San Ricardo Pampuri Hosptial of
Saravena and affliliated with ANTHOC
… Orlando Paez Durán        Affliliated with SINDICONS
… Eduardo Aponte        Stock farmer
… Pablo Aponte            Stock farmer
… Gildardo Ramos        Stock farmer
… José Vargas
… Freddy Pinto
… Manuel Pinto
… Luis Francisco Porras
… William Andrés Calderón
… Carlos Moreno
… José Lizardo Vargas
… Luis Alberto Galindo
… José Manuel Patiño

It is worthwhile noting that Mr. Alvaro Pinto is the secretary of the Community Action Group of the Playas de Bojabá street, for which Mr. Nelson Ortiz was president. The latter was assassinated last Thursday October 26, near the bridge over the Caño Rojo waterfall, without anyone knowing to this day the perpetrators or motives of the crime.
Donald Arizalón Rueda, affiliated with the SINDICONS construction workers¹ union, detained on January 6, 2004 by members of the army from the Mechanical Group of Cavalry 18, headquartered in Saravena, was brought to Batallón and there was accused of being a militiaman with the guerrillas. He was threated by Reinaldo Alarcón, who is in the reinsertion program. That time, they warned him that the next time they captured him he would be sent to Arauca or Combita.

Mr. Orlando Pez Durán, affliated with SINDICONS, was captured and brought to trial on August 21, 2004, charged with the crime of rebellion, and had been released about a month ago.

William Higuera, affiliated with ANTHOC, was detained on November 12, 2002, charged with the crime of rebellion, and released after 15 months of captivity for lack of evidence. Afterwards, persecution and threats by the army continued; the court has still not pronounced sentence and today he is again under arrest.

On October 27, at about 8:30 p.m., the president of the Regional Young Students Association of ASOJER was detained by members of the national police, who, in an arbitrary manner, forced him to get into the truck by saying that if he did not they said they would take him to the installation of Batallón Revíz Pizarro to verify his record. This did not happen; the aforementioned young leader was forced by the police to get out of the vehicle near the Rural Development educational institution and the San Ricardo Pampuri Hospital, in an area that lacks public lighting and is only sparsely populated. As an organization that defends human rights, we ask ourselves: if what was wanted was to verify a record, why did they not take him to the installation of Batallón? What were the real intentions of the police when they left Eduardo Sogamoso almost on the outskirts of the town?

On October 28, at about 12:30 p.m., an arbitary search was conducted of the house of the social leader Víctor Julio Laguado Boada, by members of the district attorney¹s office, DAS, CTI, police, and army. They were accompanied by an armed civilian, who was not identified, and who according to the district attorney said he belonged to the SIJIN.

In the headquarters of ANTHOC in Saravena, they have received several calls in which they were insulted and the aforementioned leaders of the union threatened.

Yesterday, October 29, at the fallen Banadias bridge 1, a group of 8 armed hooded men and arrived form the Fortúl side. They initially identified themselves as members of the AUC and later of belonging to the 45th front of the FARC. They crossed the river and came to the toll booth, where they searched and asked for documents from the people there and then proceeded to assassinate Mr. Miguel Gutierrez, who worked as a canoer, in front of the townspeople. Then they took a car and left for the urban district of Saravena.

In our early alert of October 11, 2006, we denounced the presence of armed civilians who were mobilizing around the urban district of Saravena, and who have been identified as members of the AUC, besides having been seen inside the cordoned-off security area of the police. It is likely that these same men are the perpetrators of the aforementioned crimes.

Once more the strategy of persecution by the Colombian state is revealed; it is a way to undo the social fabric that the civilian population of Arauca has maintained historically. This is not the first time that, based on settings plotted by the Structural Unit to Support the District Attorney¹s Office, whose headquarters are in the XVIII Brigade, and who, with paid testimony, capture and charge social leaders and citizens in general whose crime has been to put forth proposals designed to foment true social development and who have raised their voices to protest violations of their rights and those of their communities.

We demand that the judicial authorities respect due process of those captured, that they maintain impartiality in the investigations, which should be conducted legally.

To the units in control of the State and to national and international human rights organizations, be aware so that more arbitrary actions are not taken against civil society and follow the terrible situation the region is enduring.




Colombia Support Network
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Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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