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UA 45/91 - Colombia: Death threats: Hernando Pinto

, Index number: AMR 23/005/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/05/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 45/91 Death Threats 11 February 1991
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Hernando Pinto, a peasant
leader in El Carmen, department of Santander, who has reportedly been threatened
by members of the Colombian army.
On 3 February 1991 the army carried out a census of the inhabitants of
El Carmen, in the municipality of San Vicente de Chucurí, department of
Santander. Some 800 peasants responded to the army's summons to attend a
meeting, in which the commander of the military base of El Carmen reportedly
instructed the peasants to support paramilitary groups active in the region.
This meeting was also attended by members of peasant, human rights and other
popular organizations from the region of Magldalena Medio. Immediately after
the meeting a Lieuteneant from El Carmen military base, under the Luciano de
Luyar Battalion, is reported to have threatened Hernando Pinto, a peasant
leader, and accused him of inciting insurrection among the peasant communities
(sublevar a las veredas).
According to reports known members of the paramilitary group Muerte a
Secuestradores (MAS), Death to Kidnappers, had appeared in the region shortly
before the census was conducted and had participated in the meeting called
by the army.
Hernando Pinto had previously received death threats by members of the
army's Brigada Móvil, Mobile Brigade, in November 1990, during an army incursion
in a number of peasant communities, including El Carmen, in which numerous
homes were searched and Hernando Pinto's pregnant wife, was reportedly detained
and ill-treated.
The Procurator General's Office is investigating paramilitary, including
MAS, activities in the region following the testimony of a non-commissioned
officer (suboficial) of the police, who revealed an armed forces' plan to use
paramilitary forces to assassinate various local leaders from El Carmen.
In 1981 the MAS claimed its first victims, among them scores of left-wing
students, teachers, lawyers, trade unionists and community leaders. The
military claimed MAS was created by the criminal underworld in order to combat
guerrilla groups; however, in 1982 the Procurator General ordered an
investigation into MAS, producing evidence that 59 serving members of the armed
forces had been actively involved in incidents attributed to the "death squad".
All were acquitted after their cases were handed over to the military courts.
The MAS has continued to act with impunity snce that investigation and has
allegedly been responsible for numerous human rights violations.
In areas where guerrilla forces are active in the Magdalena Medio region
the local civilian population is often perceived by the armed forces as potential
guerrilla collaborators and has, as a result, been subjected to arbitrary
arrest, torture, "disappearance" and extrajudicial execution by army personnel
and paramilitary forces.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern for the safety of Hernando Pinto and others from El Carmen,
following the receipt of death threats;
- asking that an immediate investigation be conducted into the threats in order
to bring those responsible to justice;
- urging that all the necessary steps be taken to ensure their safety.
Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Presidente Gaviria, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7324
+ 57 1 287 7937
+ 57 1 283 3066
Capitán Gilberto Ibarra Mendoza
Base Militar del Carmen
Telegrams: Comandante Militar El Carmen, Santander, Colombia
Batallón Luciano D'Eluyar
San Vicente de Chucurí
Telegrams: Comandante Batallon Luciano D'Eluyar, San
Vicente, Santander, Colombia
Dr. Carlos Gustavo Arrieta
Procurador General de la Nación
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Gómez, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 41224 PRGEN CO or 41213 PGNDP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 284 0472
Comisión Intercongresional de Justicia y Paz
AA 52332
and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 25 March 1991.

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