San Josй de Apartadу sign now

(A continuaciуn en espaсol)
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Dr. Mario Germбn Iguarбn Arana
Fiscal General de la Naciуn
Bogotб, Colombia

Dear Dr. Iguarбn Arana,

I am writing to convey my grave concern regarding the recent resurgence in paramilitary threats against the Peace Community of San Josй de Apartadу. I urge you to please take action to help address this increasingly precarious situation.

I understand that over the past several weeks, there has been a marked increase in paramilitary presence in and around the Peace Community. Residents of San Josй reported on October 31, 2008 that they fear an attack is imminent on the community.

 On October 15, a newly organized paramilitary group calling itself the Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) held an armed strike, essentially shutting down several cities in the Urabб region, including Apartadу. The previous night, the AGC distributed leaflets warning people from opening up shops and schools. Reports from the ground allege that the police and army did not intervene in this strike.

 On October 30, paramilitaries detained three people from the area and told them to tell the Peace Community that they had a list of six people in the community that they would assassinate and residents should leave immediately or face the consequences.

 On November 1, 2008, two paramilitaries attacked Jesъs Emilio Tuberqua the Peace Communitys legal representative at gunpoint at an internet cafe. Mr. Tuberqua was able to escape his attackers. Mr. Tuberqua has received many threats from paramilitary groups in the past and his safety is in grave danger.

 On November 7, 50 paramilitaries carrying weapons and dressed in full uniform with AUC logos detained Jairo Berrio Arango from la Esperanza. They made him strip his clothes and put a gun to his head, intending to kill him. However, his father was able to convince them to let his son go. The paramilitaries told them to convey the message to all residents of the Peace Community that they intend to kill 6 people and everyone must leave to avoid being killed. Five families have already fled the area and there is a great risk that all the community will be forced to displace.

Due to these and similar events in recent weeks the community is fearful that an attack is imminent. I urge you to take the following actions in order to protect the community and prevent a mass displacement:

1. Conduct an impartial investigation into the paramilitary remobilization throughout Urabб and allegations that the 17th Brigade of the National Army as well as local police forces are not pursuing these paramilitary groups nor protecting citizens from their attacks.

2. Ensure immediate and impartial investigations are conducted into the threats against Mr Jesъs Emilio Tuberqua and Mr Jairo Berrio Arango, as well as the general threats against the residents of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadу and concrete actions taken to protect these people, in accordance with the Resolution issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States on 15 March 2005.

3. Call on the authorities to take decisive action to confront and dismantle paramilitary groups operating in the region and to break their links with the security forces.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

CC:
Dr. Carlos Franco Echavarrнa
Director del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos

Vicepresidente Francisco Santos Calderуn
Vicepresidente de la Repъblica de Colombia

Ambassador William R. Brownfield
Embassy of the United Status

Sr. Sergio Caramagna
Jefe de la Misiуn de Apoyo al Proceso de Paz en Colombia de la OEA

Ambassador Maria Carolina Barco Isakson
Embassy of Colombia

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Dr. Mario Germбn Iguarбn Arana
Fiscal General de la Naciуn
Bogotб, Colombia

Estimado Dr. Iguarбn Arana,

Le escribo a Usted para transmitir mi preocupaciуn acerca la resurgencia reciente de amenazas por los paramilitares contra la Comunidad de Paz de San Josй de Apartadу. Le insto que por favor tome acciуn para responder a esta situaciуn precaria en creciente.

Yo tengo entendido que durante las semanas pasadas, han sido un aumento marcado en la presencia paramilitar en y cerca de la Comunidad de Paz. Los residentes de San Josй informу el 31 de octubre de 2008 que temen que un ataque es inminente en la comunidad.

 El 15 de octubre, un grupo paramilitar nuevo refiriйndose a si mismo como las Autodefensas Gaitinistas de Colombia (AGC) tenнa un paro armado, esencialmente cerrando por completo varias ciudades en la regiуn de Urabб, incluyendo Apartadу. La noche anterior, la AGC distribuyeron folletos advirtiendo a la gente de abrir tiendas y escuelas. Informes alegan que la policнa y el ejйrcito no intervinieron en este paro.

 El 30 de octubre, los paramilitares detuvieron a tres personas de el бrea y les dijeron a decirle a la Comunidad de Paz que tenнa una lista de seis individuos en la comunidad a quienes ellos asesinarнan y que los residentes deben salir inmediatamente, o asumirнan las consecuencias.

 El 1 de noviembre, dos paramilitares atacaron a Jesъs Emilio Tuberqua el representante legal de la Comunidad de Paz a punta de pistola en un Internet cafй. El Sr. Tuberqua escapу a sus perpetradores. El Sr. Tuberqua ha recibido varias amenazas por grupos paramilitares en el pasado y su seguridad sigue en peligro.

 El 7 de noviembre, 50 paramilitares llevando armas y vestidos en el uniforme completo con insignias de las AUC detuvieron a Jairo Berrio de la Esperanza. Ellos le hicieron a йl desnudarse y pusieron una pistola a su cabeza, intentando a matarle. Sin embargo, su padre fue capбz de convencerles a dejarle ir a su hijo. Los paramilitares les dijeron a relatar un mensaje a todos los residentes de la Comunidad de Paz que tenнan la intenciуn de asesinar a 6 personas y que toda la gente debe salir para evitar siendo matado. Cinco familias ya han huyeron de el бrea y existe el riesgo de que toda la comunidad serнa debida a desplazarse.

A causa de estos eventos y otros en las semanas recientes, la comunidad teme que un ataque es inminente. Le insto a Usted tomar las acciones siguientes para proteger a la comunidad y evitar un desplazamiento masivo:

1. Realice una investigaciуn acerca la re-movilizaciуn paramilitar por toda Urabб y las alegaciones que la Brigada 17 del ejйrcito nacional, junto con las fuerzas policiales locales, no estбn persiguiendo a estos grupos paramilitares ni estбn protegiendo a los civiles.

2. Asegure que investigaciones inmediatas estбn llevadas acabo en las amenazas contra el Sr. Jesъs Emilio Tuberqua y el Sr. Jairo Berrio Arango, y las amenazas generales contra los residentes de la Comunidad de Paz de San Josй de Apartadу y que acciones concretas estбn tomados para proteger esta gente segъn la Resoluciуn por la Corte Inter.-Americana de Derechos Humanos de la Organizaciуn de Estados Americanos el 15 de Marzo de 2005.

3. Pida a los autoridades tomar acciуn decisiva para confrontar y desmantelar los grupos paramilitares operando en la regiуn y para romper sus vнnculos con las fuerzas de seguridad.

Gracias por su atenciуn a este asunto urgente.

CC:
Dr. Carlos Franco Echavarrнa
Director del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos

Vicepresidente Francisco Santos Calderуn
Vicepresidente de la Repъblica de Colombia

Ambassador William R. Brownfield
Embassy of the United Status

Sr. Sergio Caramagna
Jefe de la Misiуn de Apoyo al Proceso de Paz en Colombia de la OEA

Ambassador Maria Carolina Barco Isakson
Embassy of Colombia

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