The organizations listed below would like to call the following situation to the attention of national and international human rights organizations and the public. Over the past months, in the municipality of Tiquisio, in the department of Sur de Bolívar, paramilitary groups have increased their presence. This has had grave consequences for local residents.
Earlier this summer, members of a paramilitary group that calls itself the Gaitanistas arrived at a community-run sugar mill in the hamlet of Antojo, Tiquisio, announcing that they would be organizing a community meeting to discuss the 'care of paths and common space' in the region.
On July 4, a man was murdered in nearby Yolombo. The same day the Colombian military Infantry Battalion Number 5 ordered several motorcycle taxi drivers to bring military personnel to the scene of the crime. After soldiers physically and verbally attacked the drivers, some gave in and drove them to the scene. Those who refused were detained for approximately three hours. During this time they were subject to physical and verbal abuse by soldiers.
Paramilitary groups have been present in the area for a number of months, carrying out selective killings, threats through pamphlets, armed road blocks and other criminal acts. Their presence has been denounced by the Colombian Human Rights Ombudsman and a number of other national and international human rights entities.
On January 5, 2012, in the Tiquisio municipality and others, the Gaitanista paramilitary group distributed pamphlets questioning the Colombian government and military's role in the killing of their commandant, known at Giovani. The same day, men dressed as civilians set up road blocks around Puerto Rico, the town that houses the Tiquisio municipal government building, forcing the office to close and threatening to burn transportation vehicles who left the town.
In the following months, paramilitaries arrived in various communities in the municipality. Between April and March 2012, four residents were murdered, several in front of their families.
The Colombian Minister of the Interior should:
- Implement measures to protect the town of Antojo, in the Tiquisio municipality of Sur de Bolívar, from the advances of paramilitary groups in the region, including the protection of community sugar mills
The Colombian Public Prosecutor's Office should:
- Stop the advance of paramilitarism and investigate the criminal acts carried out by these groups in the region
- Open an investigation into the Infantry Battalion Number 5 for their physical and verbal aggression of motorcycle taxi drivers in Antojo on July 4, 2012.
This statement was summarized and translated by the PASC. Click here for the complete Spanish language version, published by the following organizations:
COMISIÓN DE INTERLOCUCIÓN DEL SUR DE BOLÍVAR
FEDERACIÓN AGROMINERA DEL SUR DE BOLÍVAR – FEDEAGROMISBOL
RED DE HERMANDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD CON COLOMBIA – COLOMBIA
The PASC is a member of the “Red de Hermandad y Solidaridad con Colombia."