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Colombia: Fear for Safety/Death Threats

, Index number: AMR 23/055/2002

Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Yolanda Becerra, President of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), Popular Women's Organization. The paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, (AUC), United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia is reportedly planning to kill her.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/055/2002
UA 144/02 Fear for Safety/Death Threats 13 May 2002
COLOMBIAYolanda Becerra (f), President of the Organización Femenina Popular
(OFP),
Popular
Women’s
Organizat
ion in
Barrancab
ermeja,
Santander
departmen
t
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Yolanda Becerra, President
of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), Popular Women’s Organization. The
paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, (AUC), United Self-Defence
Forces of Colombia is reportedly planning to kill her.
Members of the Unión Sindical Obrera, (USO), Oil worker’s Union, have been
informed by credible sources of a plot to kill Yolanda Becerra. The OFP and
the local police have reportedly received similar information from other
sources. Yolanda Becerra has been threatened in the past (See Further
information UA 22/01, AMR 23/087/2001, 7 September 2001 and follow ups) and
may have been targeted because her organisation continues to denounce human
rights violations committed by paramilitary groups, as they attempt to take
control of the region.
Concerns for Yolanda Becerra’s safety are heightened by the killing of Diofanol
Sierra Vargas, leader of the food workers’ union (SINTRAINAL) and OFP associate,
who was shot outside his house by paramilitaries on 8 April. (See UA 111/02,
AMR 23/039/2002, 11 April 2002).
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
Spanish or your own language:
- urging the authorities to take appropriate measures to guarantee the safety
of Yolanda Becerra, President of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), so
she can continue her legitimate work for the defence and promotion of human
rights;
- calling for an immediate, impartial and full investigation into the reported
threats to kill Yolanda and for those responsible to be brought to justice;
- urging the government to adhere to its obligations regarding human rights
defenders, as laid out in United Nation and Organization of American States
declarations, and in line with the UN’s repeated recommendations that they
should take measures to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders;
- expressing concern that the government has taken no effective action against
paramilitary groups in the Barrancabermeja area, despite their own commitments
and UN recommendations to combat and dismantle these groups;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the security
forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of Santander, urging
that the results are made public, and that those responsible for supporting
and participating in such groups are brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
Minister of the Interior
Dr. Armando Estrada Villa,
2
Ministro del Interior, Ministerio del Interior,
Palacio Echeverry, Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.,
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegram: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 562 5298/ 562 9890 (these numbers may be difficult to get through
to, but please keep trying)
Salutation: Dear Minister Estrada Villa / Sr. Ministro Estrada Villa
Minister of Defence
Dr. Gustavo Bell
Ministro de Defensa Nacional, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52,Oficina 217, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegram:Ministro de Defensa, Bogotá, Colombia
Telex: 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Fax: + 57 1 222 1874
Salutation:Dear Minister Bell / Sr. Ministro Bell
Governor of Santander Department
Sr. Jorge Eliecer Gómez Villamizar, Gobernador del Departamento de Santander,
Gobernación de Santander,
Calle 37, No. 10-30,
Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
Telegram: Gobernador Santander, Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
Fax: + 57 76 339889
Salutation: Dear Governor Gómez Villamizar / Sr. Gobernador Gómez Villamizar
President of Colombia
Señor Presidente Andrés Pastrana, Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:President Pastrana, Bogotá, Colombia
Telex: 44281 PALP CO
Fax: + 57 1 566 2071
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente Pastrana /Dear President Pastrana
COPIES 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 24 June 2002.

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