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Further information on UA 295/94 (AMR 23/62/94, 10 August) - Colombia: possible extrajudicial execution / fear for safety: Manuel Cepeda Vargas, Aida Abella and new names: Hernan Motta, Alvaro Vasquez del Real, Jamie Caicedo, Cesar Carrillo, Hernando Hern

, Index number: AMR 23/066/1994

Two recently formed paramilitary groups have claimed responsibility for the killing of Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas on 9 August 1994. A group calling itself MACOGUE ("death to guerrillas") isued a communique dated 10 August, claiming responsibility for the killing and threatening other popular activists and opposition leaders. On 10 August, several leaders of the USO trade union were reportedly threatened in a telephone call to USO's office at Barrancabermeja oil refinery. The call apparently came from a group calling itself COLSIGUE ("Colombia without guerrillas"). AI is concerned about the possibility of further killings of opposition leaders and activists and trade unionists by paramilitaries.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/66/94
Distr: UA/SC
26 August 1994
Further information on UA 295/94 (AMR 23/62/94, 10 August 1994) - Possible
Extrajudicial Execution / Fear for Safety
COLOMBIA Manuel CEPEDA VARGAS, parliamentarian
New names: Hernán MOTTA, opposition politician
Alvaro VÁSQUEZ DEL REAL, opposition politician
Jaime CAICEDO, opposition politician
Cesar CARRILLO, trade unionist
Hernando HERNÁNDEZ, trade unionist
Orlando OBREGÓN, trade unionist
Nelsón BERRIO, popular leader
Two recently formed paramilitary groups have claimed responsibility for the
killing of the Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas on 9 August 1994. At the same
time, the groups issued death against opposition party leaders,
parliamentarians, trade unionists and demobilised guerrillas.
In a communiqué dated 10 August and made public seven days later, a paramilitary
group calling itself Muerte a Comunistas y Guerrilleros (MACOGUE), Death to
Communists and Guerrillas, claimed reponsibility for the killing of Manuel
Cepeda and also threatened a number of opposition leaders and popular activists.
These include the Patriotic Union, Unión Patriótica (UP) and Communist Party,
Partido Comunista de Colombia (PCC) leaders Aída Abella, Hernán Motta, Alvaro
Vásquez del Real, Jaime Caicedo together with Nelsón Berrio, a popular leader
and Orlando Obregón, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Central
Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT).
According to the communiqué these people "aprovechan de las bondades del
sistema, se infiltran en los estamentos que simbolizan la libertad y la
democracia para crear la sozobra y caos ... solamente amenazados y destruídos
cesarán en su empeño." ("they take advantage of the system's good nature, they
infiltrate the institutions which represent liberty and democracy in order
to create terror and chaos ... only when they are threatened and destroyed
will they cease in their efforts.")
On 10 August, several leaders of the trade union Unión Sindical de Obreros,
(USO), Worker's Trade Union, were reportedly threatened in a telephone call
received by USO's office in the Barrancabermeja Oil Refinery. The telephone
call, from a paramilitary group calling itself Colombia sin Guerrilla
(COLSINGUE) - Colombia without Guerrillas, also claimed responsibility for
the killing of Manuel Cepeda. Amongst USO activists threatened were César
Carrillo, President of USO and Hernando Hernández, Vicepresident of USO.
Manuel Cepeda had reportedly taken an active part in denouncing the involvement
of the military high command in the systematic violation of human rights and
in its alleged involvement in the campaign to eliminate opposition politicians
and popular activists. His name appeared on an alleged death list and he had
denounced to the authorities death threats received.
Articles have appeared in recent days in the press indicating possible military
involvement in the killing of Manuel Cepeda. Several sectors of Colombian
society, including politicians such as Aída Abella, have added their voices
to these allegations. da Abella stated that "those responsible for the crime
are not "dark forces". Those responsible for the genocide carried out against
the UP in Meta, in Urabá and in the Magdalena Medio region hide in the barracks.
Now they are simply shooting our leaders", "los autores materiales del crimen
no figuran entre "fuerzas oscuras". Los autores del genocidio contra la UP
en el Meta, en Urabá y el Magdalena Medio se esconden en los cuarteles. Ahora
sencillamente están fusilando a nuestros dirigentes". Political parties and
non-governmental organizations amongst others have have been calling on
President Samper to replace the military high command.
Meanwhile, in a letter to Amnesty International dated 10 August, Manuel Cepeda's
son, Iván Cepeda, condemned his father's killing, stating: "La vida de mi padre
estuvo consagrada a la lucha por la justicia social, la defensa de los derechos
humanos y la paz" - My father's life was devoted to the fight for social justice,
the defense of human rights and peace" and expressed his hope that the
condemnation of his father's killing will help to stop the killing of political
opposition leaders in Colombia.
(see also UA 299/94 (AMR 23/63/94, 12 August 1994) and UA 315/94 (AMR 23/65/94,
26 August 1994).)
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and
airmail letters
- expressing concern for the safety of opposition party politicians, trade
unionists and demobilised guerrillas, including those individuals named above;
- urging that full and impartial investigations are undertaken into the killing
of Manuel Cepeda, that the results of these be made public and that those
responsible be brought to justice;
- urging that full and impartial investigations are undertaken into the death
threats issued by paramilitary groups in recent weeks, the results of these
be made public and those responsible be brought to justice;
- urging that the government of President Ernesto Samper take immediate steps
to dismantle paramilitary forces in keeping with stated policy objectives and
investigate possible collusion between such forces and the Colombian armed
- urging President Samper to suspend immediately any member of the security
forces suspected of human rights violations for the duration of any
investigations undertaken.
President of Colombia:
Señor Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Samper, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7434/287 7939
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Samper
Minister of Defence
Dr. Fernando Botero Zea
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida El Dorado - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa Botero Zea, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes: + 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
Attorney General
Dr. Alfonso Valdivieso Sarmiento
Fiscal General de la Nación
Fiscalia General de la Nación
Apartado Aéreo 29855
Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Fiscal General, Fiscalia General, Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 287 0939/288 2828
Salutation: Estimado Dr. Sarmiento/Dear Dr. Sarmiento
Andean Commission of Jurists
Comisión Andina de Juristas
AA 58533
Santa Fé de Bogotá
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 7 October 1994.

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