Arbitrary human rights violations in Puerto Asis

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 5 September 2014

Following the announcement of a departmental strike, on the 1 September several members of the local organisation the Central Committee for Putumayo were arbitrarily detained and one has received death threats.

The Central Committee for Putumayo works to create spaces for dialogue between the government and local social organisations and indigenous communities. The Committee put out a call to its members to attend a strategic meeting in advance of the strikes but as they made their way to Bogota to meet with the Minister of Interior Juan Fernando Cristo, the delegation from Puerto Guzmán were detained.

The delegation were stopped by the 13th Battalion in Puerto Asis, a squad of army soldiers led by Captain Naranjo. They were detained without food while the soldiers checked their papers, and then further delayed when the soldiers produced an arrest warrant for Henry Tovar Gomez. At 10pm that night it was announced that he was accused of rebellion, terrorism, and conspiring to commit a crime, and would be transferred to the city of Neiva, where he is currently being held.

At the same time, in the early hours of the 1 September Mr Yesid Calvache received a text message accusing him of being a guerrilla and threatening that he will be killed if the strikes go ahead.

Members of the trade union FENSUAGRO and of the social movement Marcha Patriotica have spoken out about incidents like these which conspire to intimidate social activists and deter them from expressing themselves and fulfilling their right to strike.

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