Further Abuses in Bolivar Region

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 6 January 2008

At 5am on December 28th soldiers of the 'Calibio' Battalion of the 14th Brigade of the Colombian Army went to the home of 42-year-old peasant farmer Parmenio Manuel Hernández Anaya and took him away. On January 3rd his body was located in a nearby morgue dressed in military fatigues and with a gunshot wound in the back. His wife and three children have all testified that he was dressed in civilian clothes when the army dragged him from their home.

This latest killing, which occurred in the hamlet of La Poza in the municipality of Catagallo in Bolivar department, was perpetrated by troops under the command of a Lieutenant Paez. Though it is now known exactly when or where the soldiers executed Mr Hernandez, they subsequently left his body in the morgue in the city of Barrancabermeja claiming that he was a guerrilla that they had killed in combat.

Reports that have reached the Justice for Colombia office from the southern sector of Bolivar department, where this latest murder occurred, indicate an alarming increase in abuses. In addition, human rights defenders in the area have documented a intensification of threats against civil society organisations including community groups, trade unions and human rights organisations, as well as an upsurge in killings.

The human rights groups have recorded a series of worrying events during December including:

  • A unit of approximately 100 heavily armed paramilitaries dressed in black uniforms patrolling the banks of the Magdalena River where it passes through Morales municipality. The security forces have done nothing to confront or stop these men.
  • A December 11th military operation near the community of Santo Domingo in Arenal municipality during which bombs were dropped indiscriminately from planes and helicopters on an area populated by civilians.
  • After an epidemic of diarrhoea broke out in the village of Mina Proyecto in Arenal municipality, the mayor of the region organised a health brigade to go and treat those affected. The military claimed that the health unit were going to treat guerrillas and prevented the medical personnel from entering the region.
  • Numerous armed paramilitaries wearing masks were seen patrolling in the municipalities of Santa Rosa and Simiti throughout the month of September. Numerous murders occurred in the two areas during the same period including two killings on December 3rd in the village of San Blas and another two on December 9th on the San Pablo to Simiti road.
  • A December 12th military operation in Simiti in which shopkeeper Florentino Guzman was killed in ambiguous circumstances.
  • Various military operations in the municipality of Cantagallo, especially near the community of Alto Paraguas, in which soldiers occupied the homes of residents of the area and during which various peasant farmers were injured and one, Pedro Miguel Castro, was killed.


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