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Colombia: Fear for safety: Civilian population of Segovia and Remedios, Antioquia: Marco Albeiro Valencia Duque, Gildardo Jesus Henao Fernandez, Giovani Cardenas

, N° d'index: AMR 23/063/1995

There is serious concern for the safety of the civilian population in the municipalities of Segovia and Remedios in the face of large-scale military and police opeartions combined with increased paramilitary activity in the area. Recent reports of threats, intimidation, detentions and torture have heightened fears that extensive violations of fundamental human rights may occur. Specific incidents have been reported. On 16 September Marco Albeiro Valencia Duque was detained with three colleagues and tortured. On 24 September Gildardo Jesus Henao Fernandez was beaten in the street by a soldier. On 30 September Giovani Cardenas was detained and ill-treated.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 23/63/95
UA 241/95 Fear for safety 19 October 1995
COLOMBIACivilian population of Segovia and Remedios, Antioquia
Marco Albeiro Valencia Duque, miner
Gildardo Jesús Henao Fernández, street vendor
Giovani Cárdenas
There is serious concern for the safety of the civilian population in the
municipalities of Segovia and Remedios, northeast Antioquia department, in
the face of large-scale military and police operations combined with increased
paramilitary activity in the area. Recent reports of threats, intimidation,
detentions and torture have fuelled fears that extensive violations of
fundamental human rights may occur as the security forces and their paramilitary
allies pursue their counterinsurgency strategy.
These fears are based on the following apparently interrelated incidents in
recent weeks. On 25 September a priest in Segovia was told over the telephone
to prepare 200 coffins. Around the same date a local hospital was warned to
be on alert, and the staff of a local school were told to evacuate their building.
On 28 September an armed confrontation took place in the vicinity between
the army and guerrillas, followed by three explosions. On 1 October shooting
was heard from inside the military base in Otú, 5 kilometres from Remedios.
After the latter incident, members of the army went into Remedios, firing
their guns and shouting "Llegó el ejército manada de hijoeputas", "The army
has arrived, you sons of bitches". The same day the army set up a checkpoint
in Vereda Otú, stopped a minibus and frisked the passengers. On 2 October
three armed men, in plainclothes and with their faces covered, were seen walking
on the streets of Segovia. Also, in recent weeks, graffiti has appeared in
Remedios with slogans such as "Paramilitares en Remedios sí, guerrilleros
asesinos no", "Paramilitary groups in Remedios yes, guerrilla killers no".
There have also been incidents reported which have affected specific
individuals. On 16 September Marco Albeiro Valencia Duque and three colleagues
left a bar in Remedios. As they left they were detained and taken to Remedios
police station. Two were released after a few hours, but Marco Albeiro Valencia
is reported to have been stripped naked, beaten, had a grenade put in his mouth,
and a gun put against his head. He alleges that a tape recorder was put in
front of him while his companion was tortured in his full view. Marco Albeiro
Valencia was asked if he was "Boris" (a guerrilla commander), and under pressure,
he said yes. Before being released, he was forced to sign papers stating he
had been treated humanely. On 23 September his house was surrounded by members
of the army.
On 24 September Gildardo Jesús Henao Fernández was beaten in the street by
a soldier. This followed several instances of him being stopped by members
of both the police and army, during which he was accused of killing a police
officer and of being a guerrilla.
On 30 September Giovani Cárdenas was detained for half an hour by two police
officers and forced to play Russian roulette in the police station. During
the past month he has suffered repeated acts of harassment and has been detained
ten times, apparently because the police have mistaken him for a guerrilla
informant with the same name.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
2
In the past, in areas of Colombia where clashes between the armed forces and
guerrillas have taken place, civilians have frequently become the target of
serious human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary arrest,
"disappearance" and extrajudicial execution. These violations have been
carried out by members of the security forces and of paramilitary groups acting
as auxiliaries or in complicity with the armed forces. Those labelled as
guerrilla sympathizers are particularly at risk.
Despite repeated promises by President Samper to improve the human rights
situation, including a commitment to end impunity for human rights violations,
members of the Colombian security forces and their paramilitary allies continue
to commit serious abuses with virtual impunity.
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 of Segovia and
Remedios, northeast Antioquia, in view of recent reports of threats and acts
of intimidation carried out by members of the security forces and their
paramilitary allies;
- urging that the authorities, at the highest level, publicly issue a speedy
and clear order instructing the security forces operating in the department
of Antioquia to fully respect fundamental human rights;
- urging that there be an immediate and thorough investigation into the reported
torture and ill-treatment by members of the security forces of Marco Albeiro
Valencia Duque, Gildardo Jesús Henao Fernández and Giovani Cárdenas, the results
of which should be made public, and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging the government to immediately fulfil its commitment to disband
paramilitary forces presently operating as auxiliaries of the armed forces
or with armed forces' complicity, and for members of such forces responsible
for human rights violations to be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
1) President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Samper, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 289 3377/286 7434
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Samper
2) Minister of Defence
Dr. Juan Carlos Esguerra Portocarrero
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
3) Minister of the Interior
Dr. Horacio Serpa Uribe
3
Ministro del Interior
Ministerio del Interior
Carrera 8a, No.8-09, Piso 7
Santafé de Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Telegrams: Ministro del Interior Serpa, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:45406 MINGO CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 286 6524/ 286 0053/ 286 0485
Salutation:Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Alternative Legal Association, MINGA, AA 40303, 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 12 December 1995.

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