Mass Detention in Arauca

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 15 January 2008

11 social and community leaders, including members of the local political opposition and trade unionists, have been detained by the Colombian security forces and accused of 'rebellion'. A regional human rights organization, the 'Fundacion Joel Sierra', has described the detentions as a "witch hunt".

The first round-ups occurred on January 12th when Mercy Tatiana Blanco, Edinson Palomino Banguero (trade unionist and former local councilor), Jose del Carmen Sanchez (trade unionist), Modesto Caceres, Omar Alarcon, Damaris Escorcio Lopez, Hernan Flores, Jose Elio Flores Perez, Derbi Rodriguez Miranda and Carlos Javier Franco Acosta were all arrested in the town of Arauquita. This was followed, on January 14th, with the detention of youth leader and regional activist in the opposition 'Polo Democratico Alternativo' party, Osmar Perez, in the same town.

All those detained were taken to the city of Arauca where they have been accused of 'rebellion'.

These latest detentions follow a pattern of arrests throughout the country which sees paid informants recognizing supposed 'guerrilla collaborators'. Those accused tend to be social leaders, trade unionists and members of the political opposition. They are often taken without an arrest warrant and are subsequently held in jail for many months or years without trial.

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