While Peace Talks Continue Army Tortures FARC Prisoners to Death

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 9 May 2013

Human rights groups have reported the torture and extrajudicial execution of two FARC guerrillas seized by army troops operating in Narino province of Colombia.

The two men, Gumercindo Guerrero Preciado and John Freddy Garcia Bastidas were taken at midday on Monday March 4, after sustained fighting between guerrillas and army troops near the village of Paraiso.

Soldiers took the two to hospital in the town of Tumaco, where they were witnessed still living. The following day, on Tuesday March 5, the bodies of the two men were handed over to relatives. To the horror of the relatives both corpses bore signs of torture, including acid burns to their faces.

The killing and torture of the two is a clear violation of Colombian law, which mandates respect for human rights and outlaws torture, as well as international law which establishes the status of prisoners of war, and their inviolable human rights.

The killings have once more highlighted the urgent need for a bilateral ceasefire while peace talks between the government and guerrillas continue in Havana. The FARC’s unilateral ceasefire expired on January 20 and since then fighting has continued across the country.

On the day after the bodies of the two guerrillas were handed over to relatives, guerrillas reported 16 troops killed in an ambush in Buenos Aires, Cauca department. They report that local civilians were forced to join the search for bodies, and that the local hospital in Jamundi reported 20 casualties. Meanwhile, General Navas, the commander of the army has denied the action, stating that only one soldier was killed.

The intensity of the conflict shows no signs of fading, with the FARC reporting having downed 3 government helicopters in recent weeks. These reports are again denied by the Colombian armed forces, which have reported the losses as crashes due to inclement weather conditions. Whatever the truth, the fact that fighting continues is undoubtedly causing casualties to both sides.

Meanwhile civilians continue to suffer the effects of military aerial bombardments and strafing. At the same time the military conflict also fuels the persecution of social activists, several of whom have been assassinated in recent weeks.

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