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UA 120/94 - Colombia: fear for safety: displaced people in Barrancabermeja Refuge, Santander department

, N° d'index: AMR 23/029/1994

AI is concerned for the safety of displaced people living the Albergue Campesino in Barrancabermeja after soldiers from a local military base made threats against them on 20 March 1994. The Albergue is a refuge centre set up by church bodies and non-governmental organizations to offer temporary shelter to people forced by political violence to flee their homes.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/29/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 120/94 Fear for Safety 25 March 1994
COLOMBIADisplaced People in Barrancabermeja Refuge, Santander department
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of displaced people living
in the Albergue Campesino (Peasant Farmer's Refuge) in Barrancabermeja after
soldiers from a local military base made threats against them.
Reports state that at 12.15am on 20 March 1994, members of the V Brigada (V
Brigade) of the Colombian Army stationed at the Pozo Siete base in
Barrancabermeja arrived at the Refuge. They battered on doors and windows
demanding to be let in, but were refused entry by the refuge coordinator as
they did not have a judicial entry warrant. The soldiers threatened and
insulted the coordinator, assuring her that they would return with a warrant,
and that when they got in they would "reduce [the Refuge] to nothing" ("volverían
nada [el Albergue]"). A soldier fired his weapon into the Refuge, but no one
was hit.
The Albergue is a refuge centre set up by church bodies and non-governmental
organizations to offer temporary shelter to people forced by political violence
to flee their homes. It has faced threats before, and was forced to close
for over a year in June 1992, after a series of threats and attacks by army
and paramilitary forces. The history of threats and attacks against the refuge
heightens Amnesty International's current concern for the safety of the people
living there.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In recent years widespread and systematic human rights violations have occurred
in Colombia, including extrajudicial executions, "disappearances", torture
and arbitrary arrest. President César Gaviria Trujillo has repeatedly pledged
his government's commitment to protect human rights. However, members of the
Colombian armed and security forces continue to commit serious violations with
virtual impunity. There are an estimated 300,000 displaced people in Colombia
who have been forced to flee the conflict between guerrillas and the army.
Army counter-insurgency operations in rural areas are characterized by the
intimidation, extrajudicial executions, "disappearances and torture of unarmed
civilians many of whom are peasant farmers. Many people are forced to flee
rural areas as a result and find shelter in the cities. In urban areas displaced
people are often treated with suspicion by the authorities and accused of being
guerrillas.
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 the people housed in the Albergue in
Barrancabermeja, in the light of the reported threats made against them by
soldiers from the V Brigade on 20 March 1994;
- urging that concrete measures be taken to ensure the protection of all the
residents in the Albergue;
- urging that there be an immediate and thorough enquiry into the soldiers'
actions, that the results be made public and that those found responsible should
be brought to justice;
- urging, that whilst investigations are underway, any armed forces personnel
implicated in the incident should be suspended from active duty;
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- urging that the authorities should take steps to ensure respect for the
fundamental human rights of people who have been internally displaced by the
conflict in Colombia.
APPEALS TO:
1) President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Gaviria, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7434/287 7939
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Gaviria
2) Procurator General:
Dr. Carlos Gustavo Arrieta Padilla
Procurador General de la Nación
Procuraduría General
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Arrieta, Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 342 9723
Salutation:Sr. Procurador de la Nación/Dear Dr. Arrieta
3) Minister of Defence
Dr. Rafael Pardo Rueda
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa Pardo Rueda, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
4)Advocate for the People:
Dr. Jaime Córdoba Triviño
Defensor del Pueblo
Defensoría del Pueblo
Calle 35, No.7-25, P.5
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Defensor del Pueblo Trivino, Defensoria del PuebloBogota, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 288 6683
Salutation: Estimado Dr Triviño/Dear Dr. Triviño
COPIES OF YOUR APPEAL TO:
Intercongregational Commission for Justice and Peace
Comisión Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
AA 31.861
Santa Fé de Bogotá
Colombia
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and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 6 May 1994.

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