The National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) denounces and opposes the serious harassment and threats against various members of the Tolima Branch from the month of June until the present [December 2011].
These instances of harassment are taking place against the backdrop of actions in support of student demonstrations, the demands for the protection of the territory in Cajamarca against the multinational AngloGold Ashanti, and the organisation of and participation in the International Verification Mission, which took place as part of the Campaign for the Right to Defend between 28 and 30 November, in which organisations and parliamentarians from various countries in Europe, Latin America and the United States investigated the human rights situation in Colombia.
It should be noted that on 24 November 2011 serious accusations were made against human rights defenders in Tolima by Colonel Julio César Prieto, outgoing commander of the Sixth Brigade of the Army. These accusations were recorded by the newspaper El Nuevo Día when Colonel Julio César Prieto was presenting the final evaluation of his term of two years in Tolima, before the next commander of the Sixth Brigade, Jairo Martín Sandoval Moncayo, took over.
In his statement Julio César Prieto expressed the challenges that will be faced by his successor, who claims that "uniformed guerrillas make up 30 percent, while 70 percent are part of the clandestine operation that helps to supply the rebels from the capital cities Ibagué and Neiva." He makes the further accusation that "they may have infiltrated trade unions, NGOs or other legitimate agencies that strengthen the guerrillas. Naturally, most of them are made up of good citizens that, without thinking, may have one of them by their side [...] The insurgency remains dressed as civilians rather than in camouflaged clothing. "
1. In mid June 2011 at about two o'clock Mr. Ricardo Varón was called and informed that several men were attempting to forcibly enter the Tolima ANTHOC [the health workers’ union] headquarters, which also houses the office of the CSPP [Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos].
2. On 18 July 2011, Isabel Cristina Pardo González was heading to the office along 37th Street, which runs alongside Ferrocarril Street, in the city of Ibagué. When Isabel Cristina crossed the street, a motorcyclist with a passenger lunged at Cristina, forcing her to quickly throw herself onto the pavement. One of the men shouted something she did not understand.
3. That same day Isabel Cristina received a call from Lieutenant Martha Katiuska Toncel Cotes, who works on human rights with the Tolima police, who informed her that he needed to talk to her urgently. In the conversation, the lieutenant told Isabel Cristina that she had tried to call her on several occasions but would instead be answered by a woman, who would behave evasively and ask what she needed, but would never confirm whether Isabel Cristina was there or not, nor even whether she had dialled a wrong number. After this happened on several occasions the Lieutenant assumed that maybe she was dialling the wrong number and asked a colleague, who dialled and found the same thing. At that time Isabel Cristina had lost her mobile phone and her line had been suspended due to the lack of payment, meaning she could neither make nor receive calls.
4. On 6 August 2011, Flor Múnera was on the corner of 4th Street and 19th Street near the Terpel petrol station in the city of Ibagué, waiting for transport, when a grey Mitsubishi Montero slowly pulled up to where she was. After Flor boarded a taxi the same vehicle drove in front of the taxi, attempting to block its path at the point where 4-Estadio Street meets 26th Street.
5. During August 2011, when the activities in opposition to Law 30 on education reform began, Isabel Cristina Pardo, who was monitoring the trial of students at the University of Tolima, found herself increasingly being followed. Students at the University of Tolima who are also members of the Tolima branch have also been victims of harassment and monitoring by unknown individuals.
6. On Saturday 3 September 2011 Isabel Cristina Pardo González and Flor Múnera were at a preparatory meeting of the National Congress of Lands, Territory and Sovereignty in Ibagué, Tolima. As they left they noticed two men outside the venue who were keenly observing them until they got into their vehicle, which has been assigned for Flor Múnera’s protection.
7. Both Isabel Cristina Pardo González and Flor Múnera have been subjected to telephone threats after they visited the Penitentiary and Prison of Doña Juana en La Dorada, Caldas on 22 November 2011. The threats have explicitly referred to the work they carried out inside the prison.
8. On 28 November 2011 members of the Tolima branch of the CSPP spent the morning working on the computer owned by the Foundation. After they returned in the afternoon and restarted the computer they found that it did not contain a single file. All the information had been deleted. The Foundation is concerned that it was stolen.
On the same day, also during the afternoon, Flor Múnera travelled to Perales Airport in Ibagué. Although she did not notice that she was being followed, when she got home she learned that her daughter had answered a call from a woman, who said, “Tell that old bitch at the airport to quit screwing around” and hung up without waiting for an answer.
9. On 7 December 2011, Ephraim Rendon Ardilla, a member of the Tolima branch of CSPP and a student at the University of Tolima, had his Facebook account hacked. His account had been closed for a while due to problems with an impersonator, but that day Jorge Aldemar Uribe, also a member of CSPP member and student at the University of Tolima, was connected to Facebook chat and noticed that the account that Ephraim had closed some time ago was active. Jorge knew the reasons behind Ephraim closing his account and so decided to talk. The other user hurled insults at him, threatened him with death and treated him as if he was a guerrilla.
1. That the Colombian government offers genuine protection and guarantees the free exercise, and enforcement, of victims’ rights, especially victims of state crimes.
2. That the Prosecutor, the Judiciary and the Attorney General act effectively, independently and impartially in its investigations and judgements.
3. That the President and the Ministries of the Interior and Justice implement a public policy for the political protection of MOVICE members, and does not try to cause further hardships for victims with bills designed to protect state employees involved in human rights violations, or with the extension of military jurisdiction, which will increase the alarming rate of impunity.
4. An end to the stigmatisation of organisations and communities that defend and claim their rights, and the effective application of the Presidential Directive (07 of 1999) and Ministerial Directive (09 of 2003), including a public statement by the Ministry of Defence which retracts the statements made by its officials.
National Movement of Victims of State Crimes - MOVICE
15 December 2011
This harassmnet and threats have to be taken with the utmost seriousness. Please write to the Colombian authorities in English and/or Spanish.
Your letter should draw specific attention to the continuing harassment of members of the Tolima MOVICE branch, as well as the four demands set out above.
Please send to the relevant Colombian Embassy:
In the UK this is Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez, Embassy of Colombia at emails:
In the US this is email: embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.