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Colombia: Further information on fear for safety / possible "disappearance"

, Index number: AMR 23/066/1996

Gerardo Estrada Yaspuesan, indigenous leader, Marco Antonio Nasner and Alfredo Basante, both members of indigenous communities. Amnesty International has learned of the killing of the 3 people named above on 8 November 1996. The three men were killed following a reported campaign of death threats and intimidation against the community by army-backed paramilitary groups and the armed opposition group ELN, National Liberation Army.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 23/66/96
27 November 1996
Further information (2) on UA 431/94 (AMR 23/91/94, 6 December 1994) and
follow-up AMR 23/95/1994, 15 December 1994 - Fear for Safety / Possible
"Disappearance"
COLOMBIAGerardo Estrada Yaspuesan, indigenous leader
Marco Antonio Nasner, member of indigenous community
Alfredo Basante, member of indigenous community
Amnesty International has learned with concern of the killing of Gerardo
Estrada, Marco Antonio Nasner and Alfredo Basante in Tuquerres municipality,
Nariño department, on 8 November 1996. Gerardo Estrada was a member of the
Junta Directiva (Governing Committee) of the Autoridades Indígenas de Colombia
(AICO), Colombian Indigenous Authorities.
The three men were killed in Tuquerres by unidentified persons at 7pm on 8
November, following a reported campaign of death threats and intimidation
against the community by army-backed paramilitary groups and the armed
opposition group, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), National
Liberation Army. On 14 October 1996, the ELN issued a public statement,
referring to the land conflict, in which it sentenced Gerardo Estrada and other
community members to death.
In the past four weeks, 10 members of indigenous communities have been killed
in Nariño department, as the communities increasingly find themselves caught
in the battle between local landowners - working in close cooperation with
military and paramilitary groups - and the ELN. Amnesty International fears
that other members of indigenous communities could be killed as a result of
the continuing struggle.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The indigenous population of Pasto, in the Nariño region, are working to
repossess lands which they claim are traditionally theirs. As a result they
have come into conflict with local landowners and armed opposition groups.
The landowners, through their military and paramilitary allies, have been
responsible for human rights abuses against indigenous communities in the past.
In the last week of October 1996, a delegation of Pasto indigenous communities
representatives travelled to the capital, Bogotá, to inform the authorities
of the threats and harassment they are suffering because of their land claims.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Colombian authorities have to
date failed to take effective action to protect indigenous leaders and members
of their communities who are under threat and calls for urgent steps to be
taken to remedy this situation.
Gerardo Estrado was abducted by armed men on 5 December 1994 but was released
a few days later (see original Urgent Action and follow-up). It was believed
at that time that this was in connection with his work with AICO.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the killing of Gerardo Estrada, Marco Antonio Nasner
and Alfredo Basante on 8 November 1996, and calling for a full and impartial
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investigation into the killings, asking for the results to be made public and
for those responsible to be brought to justice;
- urging that all possible measures be taken to protect the lives of indigenous
community members in the Nariño region, in the light of recent killings;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into death threats against
indigenous community leaders and members, for the results to be made public
and for those responsible brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to dismantle all paramilitary groups, in line with
stated governmental commitments.
APPEALS TO:
1) President of Colombia
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Samper Pizano, Bogotá, Colombia
Telex: 44281 PALP CO
Fax: + 57 1 289 3377 / 286 7434 / 287 7939
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Samper
2) Procurator General
Dr.Luis Eduardo Montoya Medina
Procurador General de la Nación
Procuraduría General
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Medina, Bogotá, Colombia
Fax:+ 57 1 342 9723/281 7531
Salutation:Sr. Procurador de la Nación/Dear Dr. Vásquez
3) Advocate for the People
Dr.José Fernando Castro Caycedo
Defensor del Pueblo
Defensoría del Pueblo
Calle 35 No. 7-25 piso 5
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Defensor del Pueblo Caycedo, Defensoria del Pueblo,
Bogota, Colombia
Fax:+ 57 1 285 6908
Salutation: Estimado Dr Caycedo/ Dear Dr.Caycedo
4) Minister of the Interior
Dr. Horacio Serpa Uribe
Ministro del Interior
Ministerio del Interior
Carrera 8, No.8-09, Piso 2
Santafé de Bogotá
COLOMBIA
Telegrams: Ministro del Interior Serpa, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:45406 MINGO CO
Salutation:Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
Fax:+ 57 1 281 5884/286 0053
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COPIES TO:
Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC)
AA 32395
Santafé de Bogotá
COLOMBIA
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 1 January 1997.

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