EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/42/95
UA 182/95 Threats/Fear for Safety 27 July 1995
COLOMBIA Pedro Barón and other peasant leaders
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Pedro Barón, president
of the Tolima branch of the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), United
Confederation of Workers, and other peasant leaders, who have been subjected
to threats and intimidation by members of the security forces since the start
of a strike and protest demonstration in Ibagué, Tolima department.
According to reports, agents belonging to the Servicio de Investigaciones
Judiciales e Inteligencia (SIJIN), Judicial Investigation and Intelligence
Service, and the F2 police intelligence service, part of the SIJIN, have
threatened and harassed the leaders of the strike.
Coffee workers in the department of Tolima declared an indefinite strike from
19 July 1995 to demand that agreements made after a previous strike be respected.
Approximately 4,000 coffee workers, together with their families, have occupied
the Murillo Toro Park in the town of Ibagué. They have been demanding the right
to demonstrate and protest peacefully without being forcibly removed by the
security forces and have also been demanding that their lives and physical
integrity be respected. The demonstrators are currently facing a shortage of
food and medicines as the Ministry of Defence has reportedly ordered that the
city of Ibagué should be blockaded and that no supplies should enter.
At 4.30pm on 21 July 11 coffee plantation workers involved in the strike were
detained by the police. The strikers appealed to the Defensoría del Pueblo,
Office of the People's Defender, who made enquiries into the detention of the
workers and were informed that no one had been detained. All 11 were subsequently
In recent years widespread and systematic human rights violations have occurred
in Colombia, including, arbitrary arrest, torture, "disappearance" and
extrajudicial execution. President Ernesto Samper Pizano, who assumed office
on 7 August 1994, made several promises, both during his election campaign
and subsequently, to improve the human rights situation. However, members of
the Colombian security forces together with their paramilitary allies continue
to commit serious human rights violations with virtually total impunity.
Civilians in areas of conflict are amongst those who have been the target of
human rights violations. President Samper's promises include a commitment to
end the impunity which benefits members of the security and paramilitary forces
responsible for human rights violations.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Pedro Barón and other peasant leaders
involved in the strike by the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores in the
town of Ibagué;
- urging that all the necessary measures be taken to protect the physical
integrity of the strikers.