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
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.