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Colombia: Fear for Safety

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 23/014/2000

The arrival of paramilitaries, and a number of recent killings in the town of Dabeiba, has heightened Amnesty International's concern for the safety of people living in Dabeiba and neighbouring towns in the department of Antioquia.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/14/00
UA 61/00 Fear for Safety 15 March 2000
COLOMBIAMembers of the non-governmental human rights organization Comisión
Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
Inhabitants of the municipality of Dabeiba and neighbouring municipalities,
including forcibly displaced communities in the department of
Antioquia.
On 9 March 2000, around 200 suspected paramilitaries reportedly set up camp
near to the town of Dabeiba with a stated aim to “hacer limpieza”, “cleanse
the area”. Their arrival, and a number of recent killings in the area, has
heightened Amnesty International’s concern for the safety of people living
in Dabeiba and neighbouring towns in the department of Antioquia.
This concern extends to displaced communities sheltering there as well as
members of the non-governmental human rights organization, Comisión
Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz, Intercongregational Commission of
Justice and Peace, who work closely with them. Displaced communities, and the
human rights workers who assist them, are frequently labelled as guerrilla
sympathizers by the armed forces and their paramilitary allies and as such
have been exposed to serious human rights violations by paramilitaries.
The day before the camp was set up, husband and wife Jorge and Magdalena were
reportedly killed by paramilitaries in Dabeiba.
On 19 February, paramilitaries reportedly shot dead five people in the community
of San José de Apartadó, department of Antioquia, despite a heavy military
presence in the area. San José de Apartadó is a community of some 1,000 people
displaced from the Urabá region of north-western Colombia in 1996 and 1997
as a result of paramilitary and guerilla violence (see UA 42/00, AMR 23/08/00,
21 February 2000).
In recent days large numbers of paramilitaries have been reported to have been
travelling between Frontino and Chigorodó, a heavily militarised municipality
north of Dabeiba. Furthermore, paramilitaries were reported to have held a
meeting in La Caleta, a farm in the municipality of Turbo used by displaced
communities.
The gunmen, mostly in military attire, reportedly set up camp in an area known
as La Base and at the El Jague farm, a short distance from the town of Dabeiba.
They appear to have been allowed to do this despite a heavy military presence
in Dabeiba - the scene of intense fighting over the last year between security
forces and their paramilitary auxiliaries against armed opposition groups
operating in the area. On 9 March, the day the camp was set up, police in Dabeiba
were reportedly ordered to stay in their barracks.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On 11 November 1999, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on behalf
of Diana Salamanca Martínez, who works for the Comisión Intercongregational
de Justicia y Paz, after she was abducted by paramilitaries in Dabeiba. Diana
Martínez, who was released three days later, had been working closely with
the displaced communities (see EXTRA 158/99, AMR 23/79/99 and follow ups).
Members of the Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies
continue to commit serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. Over
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the past five years several thousand civilians have been killed by paramilitary
groups throughout the country. The Colombian government suspended the
constitutional legal base for the formation of paramilitary organizations and
issued directives to the armed forces to combat and disband such groups in
1989, yet they continue to work with the support of the security forces in
many areas of the country.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of the inhabitants of Dabeiba, in particular
displaced communities sheltering there and members of Justicia y Paz working
with them, after the reported arrival, on 9 March 2000, of a large contingent
of paramilitaries;
- urging that all measures, deemed appropriate by those at risk themselves,
are taken to guarantee their safety;
- expressing concern that a large number of paramilitaries has been able to
move into the region, apparently unhindered by the security forces, despite
a heavy military presence in the area;
- urging that immediate measures be taken to combat and dismantle paramilitary
groups in the region in line with UN recommendations and repeated governmental
promises;
- calling for full and impartial investigations into links between the XVII
and IV Brigades of the Colombian Army which operate in this region and
paramilitary groups in the department of Antioquia, for the results to be made
public and for those responsible for supporting and participating in such groups
to be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of Defence
Dr. Luis Fernando Ramírez Acuña, Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro Defensa, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes: + 57 1 222 1874
Salutation:Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
Governor of the Department of Antioquia
Dr. Alberto Builes Ortega, Gobernador del Departamento de Antioquia
Gobernación de Antioquia, Calle 42B, # 52-106,Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Telegrams:Gobernador Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
Faxes: + 574 381 1342
Salutation: Sr. Gobernador / Dear Governor
Regional Military Commanders:
XVII Brigade
General Vargas, Comandante XVII Brigada del Ejército
Carepá, Urabá, Antioquia, Colombia
Tel/Faxes: + 57 4 823 6605 / 823 6844 (ask for "tono de fax por favor")
Salutation: Sr. Comandante / Dear Commander
IV Brigade
Brigadier General Coronel Eduardo Herrera Verbel
Comandante de la IV Brigada, Calle 50 No. 76-126
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 4 2305127 (ask for "tono de fax por favor")
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Salutation: Sr. Brigadier General / Dear Brigadier General
COPIES TO:
Non-governmental organisation
Comisión Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
Apartado Aéreo 31861
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
and to diplomatic representatives of COLOMBIA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 25 April 2000.

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