Army Kills Two Peasant Farmers, Seven Wounded

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 25 November 2014

One of dead is reported killed after being taken away by troops. One of the wounded is disappeared for three days. Troops ransack peasant farmer homes and steal their savings.

A military operation near Tumaco on Colombia’s Pacific coast on 13th November 2014 led to the killing of two men. Seven others were wounded and more than 180 peasant farmers of African descent were displaced from the settlement of Yari.

As with the infamous ‘false positive’ cases, the assassinated peasants were labelled as FARC guerrillas by the military, a charge denied by the peasant farmers.

The community of Yari on the river Cualda was subjected to a combined arms operation by troops of the Pegasus Task Force which included Marine infantry, police agents, and troops from the anti-narcotics brigade and the air-assault division.

While members of the community cowered in their homes the air force dropped at least nine bombs on them, and engaged civilian targets in prolonged bursts of machine gun fire. One of the targeted homes was full of agricultural labourers who worked as wood cutters. Of the eleven people in the house, seven were wounded and two were killed. 19 year-old Dailer Chanel Palacio Ledesma was killed immediately, Jose Arsenio Castro was severely wounded.

Following the aerial attack troops landed in the area, storming the house where the dead and wounded lay, they took Jose Arsenio, who was heard pleading for them to take him to a hospital. He was reported dead by the army the following day.

Another peasant farmer, Carlos Sanchez, was also seized by the army. His relatives had no idea where he was until the 16th of November, when he was able to communicate to his family that he was being held in a military base in Tumaco. A local human rights group has noted that it is worrying that until this date the army report on the action contained a reference to ‘three’ guerrillas killed in combat. The question is whether the army having detained two peasant farmers, initially planned to kill Carlos as well as Jose Arsenio.

During the operation troops occupied several houses, accusing the residents of being guerrillas and seizing their savings. In one case 5 million pesos (about 1500 thousand GBP), belonging to a Mr Bonicio were seized, and in the house of Yoneli Achanga Ordonez they took 3 million pesos worth of goods ready for market, as well as 3 million pesos in cash and 3 million pesos worth of seeds from a granary (a total value of about 2 thousand 500 pounds). They also smashed up the properties.

Furthermore, when the injured peasant farmers returned to the scene a few days later they found that the army had taken their work tools, most of their belongings and their identification documents.

As a result about 180 people from the community displaced to nearby towns.



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