Peace Community Still Under Attack

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The peace community of San Jose de Apartado, which for 11 years has declared itself 'neutral' in the Colombian conflict and has called for no armed actors of any kind to enter their lands, have suffered yet another series of human rights abuses. The Community claims that the Colombian State is attempting to "annihilate" them through an ongoing series of human rights violations.

In public statements sent out to the press and human rights groups, the Community say that the state security forces are acting in collusion with rightwing paramilitary units in the area and that they are engaged in a joint campaign to terrorise the local population.

The most recent statement details how members of the community spotted travelling on a bus to the nearby town of Apartado, spotted the body of an assassinated man lying by the side of the road in an area known as 'Tierra Amarilla'. The victim was later identified as Jhon Jairo Muņoz.

According to community leaders the spot where the body was lying is the same place where paramilitary forces regularly have a roadblock at which they detain and murder people. The same area has a heavy concentration of soldiers and is five minutes from a police post. The Community claim that both the army and the police allow the paramilitaries to operate with complete impunity and that they are complicit in their crimes.

The statement also denounced the fact that on January 16th at approximately 3.30pm two members of the community, German Graciano and Eduar Lanchero, were arbitrarily detained by police officers and taken to the local police station. After demanding to know why they were being detained Assistant Superintendent German Caicedo of the Colombian National Police explained to them that the law did not operate in this region and that "here, the police make our own rules". The police then accused both men and the entire San Jose Peace Community of being guerrilla sympathisers.

These most recent incidents follow a long line of persecution of the Community by paramilitaries and the state security forces. Justice for Colombia has previously reported on some of the other abuses here and here

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