Early Advisory on the Grave Situation of Human Rights in Catatumbo
Written by Humanity in Force (Humanidad Vigente)
Friday, October 15, 2010 22:54
(Translated by Susan Tritten, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN's Volunteer Editor.)
Humanity in Force sent a communication to the People's Defense Office in which it sounds an early alert on the gravity of events that have occurred in the Vera Larga sector, the rural neighborhood of Aserrio of the municipality of Teorama (Norte de Santander).
On October 3, 2010, due to the simultaneous eradication of illegal crops, around 2,500 campesinos and campesinas from the lower and middle Catatumbo region produced a proposal to require the national government to end this practice and to offer comprehensive alternatives in order to guarantee sustainable economic development for campesinos in this territory.
On October 11, other collective settlements began to form in the Mesones section of the rural neighborhood of San Pablo of the municipality of Teorama (Norte de Santander) in which campesinos and campesinas converged from the sectors of El Tarra and San Calixto municipalities.
Due to the above described events and as is publicly recognized, the commander of Region 5, Brigadier General ORLANDO PINEDA GOMEZ, announced the arrival in the region of around 180 units of the Mobile Riot Squad -- ESMAD, a special group attached to the Department of Citizen Security of the National Police, who are operating in the region, indicating also that they will pick up any presumed subversives present at the campesino protest.
Today, October 15, through the Campesino Association of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT), we have received notice that in that region, ESMAD has used tear gas and seriously injured seven people whose identities are unknown because of the lack of communication. Among them were two minor children. While in the Vera Larga sector of the Aserrio rural neighborhood, in the municipality of Teorama, Colombian Army troops burned three (3) homes, causing the displacement of several families.
In the same way, we have been informed that Colombian Army troops have intimidated people in that area, saying things like ,"Get out your uniforms and put them on so that we an kill you for being subversives." These acts threaten that physical and emotional security of people in that area.
Our organization has informed the Department of Citizen Security of the National Police and the general coordinator of ESMAD, Colonel RODRIGUEZ, of the situation described above, but since it was at 3:55 in the afternoon, they were not aware of the situation, since the order for ESMAD to enter had been given by the coordinator for Norte de Santander
Considering the above events, Humanity in Force has petitioned the People's Defender to give early warning of the possible occurrence of serious violation to the INTERNATIONAL LAW ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, perpetrated on the population of the rural zone of the municipality of Teorama (Norte de Santander.)
Life, liberty and security, the personal well being of the inhabitants of this municipality, their homes, and belongings are in grave danger of being harmed by the occupation carried out now by ESMAD and the Colombian National Army forces, in spite of insistence that they are to respect the status of the civilian population and the possible effects the troops' presence in the area may have.
It is for this reason that today, we ask from you, through the framework of your office, protection for the civilian population and an awareness of the affects that may result from the events denounced above.
In the same way, through your office, that pertinent actions be taken so that:
Military forces and the ESMAD squad of the National Police withdraw IMMEDIATELY from the sectors of the Teorama municipality, Norte de Santander;
That they cease the serious actions harmful to the life and well being, as well as the homes of the campesinos and campesinas who attend a peaceful demonstration for the recognition of their rights for women, boys, girls and young people;
That information is ascertained about those persons who were seriously wounded and forcefully displaced, as well as about the impact on their property;
That they carry out penal and disciplinary investigations in accord with the facts stated above.
Latest Update Tuesday, October 19, 2010 15:20
This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.