Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

S.O.S. for the communities of Catatumbo

21 October 2007

The Association for the Promotion of Social Alternatives, MINGA, the Progresar Foundation and the Committee of Social Integration in Catatumbo,
CISCA, denounce before the national and international community the aggravation of the human rights crisis in the Catatumbo region, Norte de
Santander department (province), resulting from the atrocities committed by presumed members of public forces against the peasant farming
communities.

According to the denunciations of community leaders and the families of victims, members of the National Army are linked to the extrajudicial
executions of protected peoples that they report as supposed guerrillas who died in armed combat.

FACTS

1. On Friday, October 5th, in the hamlet of La Colombiana on the Venezuelan border, the death of Mr. Carmen José Solano was reported. Mr.
Solano had left his house to go to the parish of El Cruce in Venezuelan territory.

2. On October 9th, presumed members of the Army arrived at a farm known as La Bogotana in a zone of Bobalí, and there they detained Mr. José
Eliécer Ortega Bonet, who died. According to neighbours’ testimonies, they asked members of the Army to give back the corpse, but the Army
denied the death and instead affirmed that they were transporting bombs through the forest.

3. On October 9th, members of the Army entered the house of Mr. Carlos Daniel Martínez Ortega, in Caracol, between San Calixto and El Tarra. The
morning of the next day, there were gunshots and afterwards the above-mentioned farmer was found dead.

4. On October 10th, the 14 year old youth Carlos Daniel Martínez Ortega and Mr. Albeiro Amaya Montejo, who had left their houses in El Rosario
heading towards Puerto Catatumbo, were found dead. According to witnesses, once the victims were passing through a rural zone, the Army
simulated a combat and they were killed there.

All these victims were transferred in helicopter by military units to Ocaña and Cúcuta where their families had to reclaim the bodies, and where
they were informed that the deceased were guerrillas killed in combat.

In accordance with the testimonies of the families, all the victims were peasant farmers and workers affiliated to the Communal Action Junta, far
from guerrilla group activities. As well, they testified that in these areas there had not been any armed clashes with guerrillas.

It is important to mention that these are not the first cases denounced by the communities of Catatumbo. There are already over 20 deaths under similar circumstances in the last year, cases which were analysed in the international observation mission concerning extrajudicial executions and impunity in Colombia.


At the request of the affected communities, we solicit your support to put pressure on the authorities. To this end, PASC has transcribed a model letter in Spanish that you can endorse by sending it to the mentioned addresses.

************

MODEL LETTER IN SPANISH

Email addresses:

fsantos@presidencia.gov.co

franciscosantos@presidencia.gov.co

veeduria@fiscalia.gov.co

denuncias@fiscalia.gov.co

asuntosdefensor@defensoria.org.co

defensoria@defensoria.org.co

Montreal, 18 de Octubre del 2007

FRANCISCO SANTOS,
Vice-presidente de la república

MARIO IGUARAN,
Fiscal General de la Nación

VOLMAR PEREZ,
Defensoría del Pueblo

Señores representantes,

Ponemos en su conocimiento nuestra preocupación por la grave situación de derechos humanos que se viene viviendo en la región del Catatumbo, como denunciado por lideres comunitarios y las familiares de las victimas. Miembros de la fuerza pública cometieron ejecuciones extrajudiciales el viernes 5 de octubre en el caserío conocido como la Colombiana, frontera con Venezuela, en donde se reporto la muerte del señor Carmen José Solano. El 9 de octubre en una finca de la vereda La Bogotana el señor José Eliécer Ortega Bonet fue detenido y posteriormente aparece muerto. Este mismo día miembros del Ejército entraron en la casa del señor Carlos Daniel Martínez Ortega ubicada en la vereda Caracol, quien aparece muerto al amanecer del siguiente día. El 10 de octubre en la vereda el Rosario el ejército habría fingido un combate en el cual fueron asesinados Carlos Daniel Martínez Ortega de 14 años y el señor Albeiro Amaya Montejo. Todas estas victimas fueron trasladadas en helicóptero por unidades militares hacia Ocaña y Cúcuta, donde sus familiares tuvieron que reclamarlos y allí les informaron que eran guerrilleros dados de baja en combate.

De acuerdo con el testimonio de los familiares y conocidos de las victimas, ellos eran campesinos trabajadores, afiliados a las juntas de acción comunal y ajenos a las actividades de los grupos al margen de la ley. Igualmente afirman que en tales sitios no se presentaró ninguna clase de enfrentamiento armado como lo anuncian las fuerzas militares.

Es importante señalar que no son los primeros casos denunciados por las comunidades del Catatumbo, pues ya sobrepasan las 20 personas
muertas en circunstancias similares en el último año, las cuales fueron analizados en reciente Misión internacional de observación sobre ejecuciones extrajudiciales e impunidad en Colombia.

Ante estos hechos solicitamos a su despacho abrir las correspondientes investigaciones penales y disciplinarias por los hechos denunciados y quedamos atentos frente a las diligencias que usted pueda emprender frente a esta solicitud.

Atentamente,

***PUT YOUR NAME HERE***

Ciudadano-a canadiense

*Name of your organization if applicable*

Source: 

Region: