On 12 September, paramilitaries reached the areas of Bijao, El Limón, and the two areas Nueva Vida and Nueva Esperanza en Dios, known as Humanitarian Zones (Zonas Humanitarias), of the Cacarica River Basin, Ríosucio Municipality, Department of Chocó. Paramilitaries have stated that they are in possession of a list of community leaders who they label as guerrilla collaborators. Those labelled as guerrilla collaborators in Colombia by the security forces or paramilitaries have frequently been the target of human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, enforced displacement and threats.
On 3 September a large number of paramilitaries had left Unguía Municipality in Chocó Department to go to the Cacarica River Basin reportedly to “teach a lesson” to the inhabitants. This incursion follows witness reports that around 100 paramilitaries were seen boarding a boat or boats in the harbour of the town of Turbo, in the neighbouring department of Antioquia, an area with a permanent strong police presence. On 9 September paramilitaries entered the Cacarica River Basin through an area known as Puente América. There are regular army checkpoints at this location; however, when the paramilitaries entered the area this checkpoint had been removed.
The Colombian government has been made aware of these paramilitary latest movements, but the authorities have failed to take decisive action to confront paramilitary forces in the area. Over many years paramilitary forces have continued to maintain a strong presence in the north of Chocó Department and to operate in close collusion with the XVII Brigade of the Colombian armed forces. This collusion has been denounced repeatedly by Colombian non-governmental human rights organizations and international NGOs from the late 1990s to the present.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Expressing concern for the Afro-descendants of the Cacarica River Basin, including their leaders, given the threats against the community and the incursion of a large number of paramilitaries into the area.
- Urging the authorities to implement protection measures in strict accordance with the wishes of those threatened, and order full and impartial investigations into these threats and the presence of paramilitaries;
- Urging them to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with the security forces, in line with stated government commitments and recommendations made by the UN and other intergovernmental organizations.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 25 OCTOBER 2013 TO:
Presidente Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República, Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26
Fax: +57 1 596 0631
Salutation: Dear President Santos/ Excmo Sr. Presidente Santos
Señor Juan Carlos Pinzón
Ministerio de Defensa
Carrera 54, no.26-29
Fax: +57 1 266 1003
Salutation: Dear Minister Pinzón/
Sr. Ministro Pinzón
And copies to:
Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz
Calle 61A, No. 17-26