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Monday, May 28, 2007

International NGOs Threatened in Colombia: Anglo Gold Ashanti's Strategy Continues

National and International Organizations Accompanying Communities in South Bolivar have been Threatened, as have all Agro-mining Leaders.

(Translation by: Micheal O Tuathail, CSN volunteer translator)

1. On Saturday 12th of May, 2007, The European Network of Brotherhood and Solidarity with Colombia (Spanish acronym REHSC) received an email message threatening the lives, physical integrity, and accompaniment work of international organizations that support communities in South Bolivar. 

2. The same message also threatens the leaders of the Agro-mining Federation of South Bolivar, in particular, its president, TEOFILO MANUEL ACUNA, who in the past days was victim of being set-up by the New Granada Battalion, affiliated with the 5th Brigade of the National Army. 

3. The message was received in the mailbox of redeuropea@redcolombia.org and sent from an email account from the hotmail server, whose apparent correspondence name is 'Juan David Gonzalez Morales' with the email address juandavid1632893@hotmail.com. The text of the message is as follows:

"I worry a lot about the behaviour of the prosecutor of simiti plutarco, above all about the behaviour of the NGOs who were pressuring him to release this terrorist who only damages the mining population in south bolivar (sic). It is known that teofiloy (sic) was redirecting the resources of the mines to maintain and strengthen the narcoterrorist organizations, such as the ELN. But with God's will, this will end very soon, and these foreigners from the NGOs are going to very much miss their homelands because, one day, they will be found by the legally constituted army of God." 

4. This threat is not an isolated incident. It is only a part of the persecution declared against communities in South Bolivar and the national and international organizations accompanying their social processes in the defence of both territory and life. 

5. Since the multinational Anglo Gold Ashanti, through its affiliate Kedahda, has decided to appropriate the territory of small miners in South Bolivar, there has been a rise in human rights violations committed by Colombia's military forces, who have publicly stated that their presence in the region is as a security service of said multinational.

6. The methods of terror used to destroy the organizing processes of the region and to demand the ceding of land to Anglo Gold Ashanti have been innumerable; burning houses, petty thefts, robberies, rumours, threats, occupations of civic properties, arbitrary detentions, set ups, and extrajudicial executions, among others, are the methods used by those trying to displace mining communities in this region of the country, which constitutes a great threat to the defence of human rights in Colombia. 

7. In accordance with the commitment that international organizations have acquired with Colombian social organizations to defend the rights of peoples, international accompaniment will continue in South Bolivar through the REHSC. From now on, we will hold responsible both the Kedahda Company (Anglo Gold Ashanti) and the Colombian state for any possible actions taken against the lives and integrity of the internationals working in South Bolivar. 

Related Prior Events:

1. On 23rd September 2006, in the urban area of Santa Rosa municipality, the communities began a day of protest against the murder of their leader, ALEJANDRO URIBE CHACON. Meanwhile, members of the New Granada Batalion, linked to the National Army's 5th Brigade, in a clandestine and covert manner, filmed and photographed members of the REHSC, the legal representative from the Sembrar Corporation, the legal assessor from the Agro-mining Federation of South Bolivar, and several leaders from the region. One of those recording the events, upon being recognized as military personnel, disappeared into the office of the Presidential Program of Human Rights, Carlos Franco, in a truck with registration plate XVP 848. The incident was reported to the Regional Defender of the People, and it was immediately demanded that the commander of the New Granada Battalion identify the soldier and delete the photographs. This was refused to be done. 

2. On the 14th of December 2006, an article was published in the newspaper El Frente, originating from Bucaramanga but with regional circulation. The featured article is titled, "Perverse Campaign Against Military Forces in South Bolivar, Non-Governmental Organizations that Work With and Defend Terrorism in the Region Move Forward." the article claims that the guerrilla acts through the "NGOs present in the region," naming as such the Sembrar Corporation, the Agro-mining Federation of South Bolivar, and the REHSC. In the same way, it claims that the work of these NGOs is aimed at "defaming the New Granada Artillery Battalion and, by extension, the Fifth Brigade." 

3. The article contains quotes from an interview with Jose Cendales, a wealthy man in the region who is being put forth as a mayoral candidate for the municipality of Santa Rosa and who has indicated that "the people alone are not capable of holding those marches. This is because they are influenced by some group," referring to the marches held by the agro-miners of South Bolivar this past September of 2006. 

4. On Saturday the 28th of April 2007, at approximately 14:30, two internationals accompanying 3 regional leaders were arrested and detained by the New Granada Battalion in the outskirts of San Luquitas, San Pedro Frio, of the municipality of Santa Rosa. 

5. In the same way, on Sunday the 29th of April 2007, three members of the REHSC were detained by members of the New Granada Battalion in a room located in the military base of this Battalion, on the outskirts of San Luquitas, San Pedro. 

6. After the detention of the president of the Agro-mining Federation of South Bolivar, Captain Cruz, of the New Granada Battalion, has come forth in recent weeks, making statements against the Agro-mining Federation and its president: 

"We have captured the worst gangster in South Bolivar, who stole 500 billion pesos from Accion Social to give it to the guerrilla... We will pursue the rest of the gangsters who follow him." 

Also, Captain Cruz has been probing the communities insistently about the presence of members of the REHSC and other international organizations, asking about their finances, places of origin, functions, and identifications. 


To the National Government:

1.  That the National Government take the necessary measures to ensure that the work of these international organizations accompanying communities and social and human rights organizations in Colombia be both respected and guaranteed. 

2. That the National Government, with the leadership of the Vice President of the Republic, publicly recognize the accompaniment work carried out by international NGOs in Colombia.

3. That the Colombian government fully comply with its signed agreements with the communities and guarantee the exercising of the rights of members and managers of the Agro-mining Federation of South Bolivar as well as the organizations they are affiliated with, ensuring the necessary protection of their lives and physical integrity. 

4. That the work of social and human rights organizations in Colombia be respected; and as a consequence, that the declarations made against them by the Public Forces cease.

To the Judiciary and Control Organisms:

5. That the origin of the aforementioned email be investigated and those responsible accordingly sanctioned.

6. That the members of the New Granada Battalion be investigated and sanctioned for their accusations and declarations made against the social organizations and community leaders of South Bolivar as well as for their irregular actions committed against the international accompaniment organizations in the region. 

7. That all the violations of human rights committed against the communities of South Bolivar, including those reported by social and accompaniment organizations in the region, be investigated and sanctioned.


International Organizations:

- KolumbienKampagne Berlín (Germany) 
- Comité de solidaridad Carlos Fonseca (Italy)
- Confederación Cobas (Italy)
- Cric (Italy)
- Colombia Solidarity Campaign (Britain)
- Espacio Bristol-Colombia, (England)
- Grupo de Apoyo (Swiss-German) 
- Colectivo Solidarité Colombia (Swiss-French)
- Colectivo Ginebrinos de Solidaridad con los Pueblos Colombianos –Ginebra (Sweden)
- Colectivo de Solidaridad Belgo-Andinoamericano- AYNI (Belgium)
- Tribunal Internacional de Opinión SB-París (France) 
- Colombia Solidarity Network (Ireland)
- Association France Amérique Latine AFAL- Comité Colombia-Lyon  (France)
- FRACTAL Colectivo  Paris (France)
- Proyecto de Acompañamiento y Solidaridad con Colombia -PASC (Canada) 

In the Spanish State:

- Komite Internazionalistak (Euskadi)
- Coliche (Logroño-La Rioja)
- Coordinadora Aragonesa de Solidaridad con Colombia- CASCOL  (Zaragoza) 
- Centro de Documentación y Solidaridad con América Latina y África-CEDSALA (Valencia)
- SODEPAU (Valencia)
- Asociación Paz con Dignidad 
- Comité de Solidaridad  con América Latina- COSAL - XIXÓN (Gijón-Asturias) 
- Asociación Internacionalista Paz y Solidaridad –AISPAZ (León)
- Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) 
- Colectivo de Colombianos Refugiados en España COLREFE

Colombian Organizations: 

- Corporación Sembrar (Bogotá)
- Federación Agrominera del Sur de Bolívar -Fedeagromisbol (Bolívar)
- Comité de Integración Social del Catatumbo –CISCA (Catatumbo)
- Corporación Social para el Asesoramiento y Capacitación Comunitaria - COSPACC (Casanare, Boyacá, Bogotá) 
- Organizaciones Sociales de Arauca (Arauca)
- Coordinador Nacional Agrario –CNA 
- Procesos de Comunidades Negras –PCN
- Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano –CIMA (Cauca)
- Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos -FCSPP (Bogotá, Barranquilla, Valle, Bucaramanga, Valledupar) 
- Sindicato Nacional de los trabajadores de la Industria Alimentaria -Sinaltrainal (Bogotá, Valle, Bucaramanga, Valledupar,  Barranquilla, Barrancabermeja,)
- Instituto Nacional Sindical –INS (Bogotá, Valle, Huila) 
- Corporación Jurídica libertad (medellín)
- Colectivo de derechos Humanos Semillas de Libertad - CODHESEL 

15 May, 2007

Send Letters of Protest to: 

Dr. Álvaro UribeVélez
Presidente de la Republica
Fax: 57 1 566 2071

Dr. Francisco Santos.
Vicepresidente de Colombia

Dr. Carlos Franco 
Director del Programa de Derechos Humanos de Vicepresidencia

Dr. Edgardo Jose Maya Villazón
Procurador General de la Nacion.

Dr. Volmar Antonio Perez Ortiz 
Defensor del Pueblo
Fax: 57 1 6400491 

Oficina del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los derechos humanos.
Fax: 57 1 6293637



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