THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PARAMILITARY INVASION AT RIO ATRATO
The ethno-territorial social organizations of the families and displaced victims of paramilitary violence in the Atrato region, with the Diocese of Quibdo, calls for national and international public opinion to express outrage at the false testimony of the paramilitary leader Fredy Rendon, alias "El Aleman"(The German), comandante of the Elmer Cardenas Bloc, given in Medellin on June 5 and 6.
The Crimes of the Paramilitaries in the Middle and Lower Atrato occurred under Rendon's Command
We cannot accept Fredy Rendon's denial of any responsibility for the horrible atrocities committed by the paramilitaries in our communities of the middle and lower Atrato beginning in 1996. The innumerable masacres, assassinations, disappearances, tortures, rapes of women and girls(often in the presence of husbands and family), the countless displacements, and the gradual disintegration of the social fabric of hundreds of communities and thousands of families,--all these crimes committed under the command of Fredy Rendon (alias "El Aleman") from the beginning.
He came and went and his lieutenants called constantly where he was to inform and receive orders to kill our loved ones with power saws or machetes, beheading, stabbing, and putting in sacks to be thrown in the Rio Atrato and its tributaries, converting them into cemeteries for ten years, violating our culture and sensibilities by not allowing decent burial of our loved ones.
In The Masacre of Bojaya El Aleman Had Part of the Responsibility
During the tragic masacre of May 2 in Bellavista/Bojaya, the paramilitaries were commanded by Fredy Rendon. It is the height of effrontery that he now tries to lay blame for so many innocent deaths on Father Antun Ramos, the parish priest at Bellavista, for not having obeyed a supposed order to remove the civilian population to the cemetery. Father Antun did nothing but open the doors of the church as a sacred place in which all could be safe so that the civilians could seek refuge in the midst of war. "El Aleman" recognizes that he was giving orders that day and should have told his paramilitaries to withdraw to places away from the civilian population. But, to the contrary, for a day and a half his paramilitaries used the innocents in the church as human shields and thus provoked the war crime of the FARC guerrillas who fired a bomb at the paramilitaries in the church killing almost 100 civilians, largely women and children. Fredy Rendon cannot deny his responsibility in this crime.
In El Atrato There Have Never Been Autodefensas Campesinas (Farmer Paramilitaries)
Additionally, we want to take the opportunity of this communique to publicly deny the term "Autodefensas Campesinas". The farmers of the Atrato region have never called on any armed group for protection. Since the 1980s we have organized ourselves peacefully to defend our ethno-territorial rights. We deny that guerrilla groups have operated in our territory. No group has been invited by us, but rather the paramilitaries have used the claim of fighting guerrillas as pretext to make our civilian population a target of their military power. They have not fought the guerrillas but have terrorized innocent civilians. They closed the Rio Atrato impeding our free movement. The paramilitaries do not act in defense of campesinos. They invade in defense of foreign interests, those of their financiers and of temselves. They are paramilitaries and always act in coordination with government forces.
To The Paramilitaries--
That they tell the truth, and the whole truth. That they remember that they cannot benefit from the law . unless they do. Therefore Fredy Rendon should retract all his lies.
To the Colombian State:
Respect the suffering of the victims who lost family and suffered wounds. Remember sadly the dead and not to profane their memory with false accusations to justify the barbarism of the paramilitaries who can then claim to have acted as "war heroes".
That state agencies act vigilantly to to apply the law and to obtain truth, justice and reparation.
To the National Commission of Reparation, that they schedule a session in Quibdo in order to receive direct testimony from the victims who have not been heard and thus begin the process of applying justice and reparation, both individual and collective.
Quibdo, July 7, 2007
Association of the Displaced, 2 de Mayo (ADOM)
Association of the Displaced, Afrodescendents de Choco (ADACHO)
Committee of Displaced of Gestion and Veeduria Departmental (CODEGEVE)
Association of Indigenous City Councils of Embera, Wounaan, Katio, Chami, and Tule of
the Department of Choco (OREWA)
COCOMACIA - Community Council de la Association Campesina Integral del Atrato
Ruta Pacifica Choco
Families of the Victims of Quibdo
Diocese of Quibdo
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621