From the Lawyers’ Collective, Jose Alvear Restrepo
From the Lawyers' Collective, Jose Alvear Restrepo
The army killed my little foot
Thursday, February 17, 2011
(Translated by Diana Méndez, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN Volunteer Editor.)
Around 850 peasants, indigenous people, afro-descendants, students, and others arrived in the municipality of Puerto Asís from different parts of the Putumayo department to attend the citizens' hearing for truth, "The Humanitarian Consequences of Plan Colombia," which took place in Puerto Asís on February 11 and 12.
The hearing was called for by Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado [National Movement of Victims of Crimes by the State], el Comité Permanente Por los Derechos Humanos [the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPH by its initials in Spanish)], Mesa Departamental de Organizaciones Sociales [the Departmental Board of Social Organizations], indigenous peoples, female peasants and afro-descendants, the Yurupari corporation, Fensuagro, the lawyer's collective "José Alvear Restrepo" and many other organizations. Also present were: the senator for the PDA [Polo Democratic Alternative, a political party] Gloria Ines Ramirez, the House representatives Ivan Cepeda and Hernando Hernandez, representatives of the Fiscalia General Nacional [Prosecutor General's office] and entities of investigation, vigilance and control, as well as international organizations, a United Nations' delegate, Peace Brigades and the Generalitat of the Government of Cataluña.
The paramilitaries made their criminal presence felt during the preparations and development of the hearing. On February 5, a teacher, Carlos Ayala, member of the Putumayo Teacher's Union, was assassinated in the same urban center. And on February 11, unknown men burst violently unto the rural area of Dios Peña located in the San Miguel municipality. There they murdered Luz Marina Roa, age 59, as well as Luz Mery Roa, age 35, Vice President of the Junta de Acción Comunal de la Vereda "Dios Peña" [Community Action Center Dios Peña] and a child, just 5 years old, Sorith Juliet Alfonso, whose throat was slit and whose hands were cut off. In this same way they killed two of the three workers who happened to be on the farm at that time; the third managed to escape. The women, Luz Marina Alfonso y Luz Mery Roa, had their throats slit with machetes.
The hearing's attendees listened to painful testimonies and condemnations of the dire state of human rights and international human rights which the residents of that department live under. Among them [is the story of] a little 4-year-old girl who was shot in the leg from an army helicopter. The army bombs and machine gun blasts in populated areas. The little girl told the jurist that interviewed her that "the army killed my little foot from a helicopter.' In spite of the denouncements and condemnations this act remains unpunished.
Those in attendance heard victims of the effects of Plan Colombia since 2002, and of
the development of Plan Patriota since 2006. The organizers heard 37 testimonies on stage; 390 denouncements were heard by the boards, there for that purpose, which spoke of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, torture by the army, massive displacements, threats, plundering of homes, bombings and machine gun blasts.
After the assembly the representatives of parliament and spokespeople for CPDH, accompanied by Doctor Alosno Ojeda Awad, delegate of the People's Defenders Office, visited the Puerto Asis cemetery where they could verify the existence of numerous No Name [N.N] graves.
In the same way, the attendees from the municipalities of Orito, Moccoa, San Miguel, La Hormiga and of border populations with the sister nation of Ecuador, spoke about the challenging problem of fumigations. These are the forced manual eradications of the coca leaf which have also eradicated whole communities' rice, cacao, and sugar cane crops. These [eradications] are carried out by joint operatives of the armed forces, the police and aided by paramilitary actions and presence in the region. To this human misery add the entrance of innumerable transnational corporations which routinely organize the pillaging of the region's natural resources without any official oversight regarding the environmental consequences or the abject misery in which the communities are left in.
It remains in the hands of the government, the prosecutor general's office, and other authorities to reinitialize the investigations into those acts which have horrified the region of Putumayo, and to bring forth the truth, so that there may be justice and that reparations may reach the thousands of victims that live in official abandonment.
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