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UA 335/91 - Colombia: death threats: Edwar Alvarez Vacca and other members of the Equipo Coordinadora par la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Ocana

, N° d'index: AMR 23/057/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/57/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 335/91 Death Threats 10 October 1991
COLOMBIA: Edwar ALVAREZ VACCA, aged 20, human rights activist
and other members of the Equipo Coordinadora par la
Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Ocaña
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Edwar Alvarez Vacca and
other members of the Equipo Coordinadora para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos
de Ocaña, Coordinating Team for the Defense of Human Rights in the municipality
of Ocaña, Norte de Santander department, following harassment and threats to
their lives.
Edwar Alvarez has been actively involved in community and human rights work
from a young age and has been the victim of much harassment as a result. When
he was sixteen years old an unsuccessful attempt was reportedly made to abduct
him, by unknown persons, as he was taking part in a conference on community
action in Valledupar, Cesar department. On 6 September 1990, during a march
which he organized and led, recognized members of police intelligence, F-2,
attempted to force Edwar Alvarez into a van, but the presence of many witnesses
prevented his abduction. Edwar Alvarez was standing as the official
representative of the community organizations of Ocaña in the elections for
the National Constituent Assembly. Since that time, both he and his family
have been the victims of increased threats and harassment and have been forced
to move home several times. In May 1991 harassment increased again following
Edwar Alvarez' public denunciation of the alleged "disappearance" of peasant
leader Giovanny Ortiz Torrado by the F-2. He was reportedly summoned to the
base of the IVth District of the National Police of Ocaña, Comando del IV Distrito
de la Policia Nacional de Ocaña, where he was interrogated concerning the basis
for his denunciation of Giovanny Ortiz' "disappearance" and also concerning
the other members of the Human Rights Coordinating Team.
In the last year, Ocaña's community organizations have initiated a campaign
of human rights education and the denunciation of human rights abuses in the
largely rural and underdeveloped province. The Human Rights Coordinating Team
of Ocaña, in addition to denouncing many cases of human rights violations by
the armed and security forces, has reportedly been providing assistance to
relatives of victims of "disappearance" or extrajudicial execution in areas
targetted by the military during counter-insurgency operations. On 24-25
August 1991 the Coordinating Team held a regional human rights forum in Ocaña,
which was attended by more than a thousand people, mostly from the surrounding
area. However both in the period before the Forum and after it took place,
reports of human rights violations continued, including threats, arbitrary
detentions and extrajudicial executions.
Shortly after the Forum, on 10 September, the Coordinating Team received an
anonymous threat addressed to La defensa de los bandoleros y las comunistas
de la región de Ocaña, the defenders of the bandits and communists of Ocaña,
in which they were accused of being a front for the guerrillas, and the forum
where the guerrillas were given their instructions. "Cuídanse señores
comunistas de los derechos humanos...déjen de tener este organismo de derechos
humanos como fachada...lo van a pagar bien caro", "take care, human rights
2
communists...stop using this organization as a facade...you're going to pay
heavily for it".
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
President César Gaviria Trujillo has repeatedly pledged his government to
protect human rights. In his inaugural address in August 1990, he said that
"the public opinion's trust and credibility in the armed forces depend on the
armed forces' acting according to the constitution. The armed forces must
respect human rights because the country's defence also means upholding the
law". However, despite the government's commitment to uphold respect for human
rights, members of the Colombian armed forces have continued to commit serious
abuses, including torture, extrajudicial execution and "disappearance". Human
rights defenders have increasingly been among the victims of such abuses.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern for the safety of Edwar Alvarez and other members of
the Coordinating Team for the Defense of Human Rights in Ocaña, following the
receipt of threats to their lives;
- urging that there be an immediate investigation into the death threats and
harassment in order to identify those responsible and bring them to justice;
- urging the Colombian government to take all possible measures to protect
human rights workers and ensure that they are able to carry out their lawful
activities.
APPEALS TO
President of the Republic:
Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo Excelentísimo Sr Presidente
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Presidente Gaviria, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 283 3066
+ 57 1 286 7324
+ 57 1 287 7937
Dr. Jaime Córdoba Triviño Sr Defensor del Pueblo
Defensor del Pueblo
Procuraduría General
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
3
Telegrams: Defensor del Pueblo Trivino, c/o Procuraduria General,
Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia
Telexes: 41224 PRGEN CO or 41213 PGNDP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 284 0472
Procurator General:
Dr. Carlos Gustavo Arrieta Padilla Sr. Procurador General de la
Procurador General de la Nación Nación
Procuraduría General
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Arrieta, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes: 41224 PRGEN CO or 41213 PGNDP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 284 0472
Comandante Gómez Valbuena Sr Comandante
Comandante IV Distrito de Policía
Ocaña
Norte de Santander, Colombia
Telegrams: Comandante IV Distrito Policia, Ocana, Norte de Santander,
Colombia
Comandante Batallón Jaime Rooke Sr Comandante
Base Militar La Esmeralda
Municipio de Convención
Norte de Santander, Colombia
Telegrams: Comandante Batallon Jaime Rooke, Convencion, Norte de
Santander, Colombia
COPIES TO:
Equipo Coordinadora para la Defensa de
los Derechos Humanos de Ocaña
AA 52
Ocaña (Committee of Solidarity with Political
Norte de Santander, Colombia Prisoners)
Señores (Association for the families of the
ASFADDES disappeared)
AA 011446
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
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 21 November 1991.

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