PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/73/99
UA 274/99 Fear for Safety 14 October 1999
COLOMBIACivilian population, Municipalities of Buga and Tuluá, Valle del Cauca
Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of the civilian
population of Tuluá and Buga municipalities, in Valle del Cauca department.
Between 24 and 28 September 1999, men believed to be paramilitaries killed
at least 10 civilians with machetes and chainsaws in the hamlets of San Rafael
de Tuluá and La Mina.
Families fleeing the violence have taken shelter in towns throughout the region.
In the town of Buga, where a sports centre is providing emergency shelter,
the number of displaced families is fast outgrowing the resources available;
food is already in short supply. At night, men on motorbikes fire shots into
the air and shout threats at the displaced civilians, whom they accuse of being
In July 1999, the paramilitary organisation the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia
(AUC), United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, announced that it was launching
an offensive in Valle del Cauca. Pamphlets distributed throughout the department
stated "los amigos de los guerilleros son nuestros enemigos y nuestros enemigos
son objetivo militar", (friends of the guerillas are our enemies and our enemies
are a military target).
There are grave fears for the safety of civilians in the communities of Alaska,
La Habana and La Magdalena, where it is believed that the AUC is planning further
At least 35 civilians have been killed, and more than 2000 internally displaced,
by the paramilitary offensive in the region of Tuluá since the beginning of
Peasant communities in disputed zones in Colombia’s long-running civil conflict
have frequently suffered human rights violations. Neither the armed forces and their
paramilitary allies nor the left-wing armed opposition groups recognize the civilian
population's neutrality in the conflict.
Members of the Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies
continue to commit serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. Over 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 civilian population in Tuluá and
Buga, Valle del Cauca department.
- urging that the authorities take all steps deemed necessary by those at risk
to guarantee their safety;