British-Trained Colombian Soldiers Working with Paramilitary Death Squad

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 15 May 2008

A statement from Colombian trade union ASOINCA-FECODE, which representing teachers in the region of Cauca in southwest Colombia, says that High Mountain Battalion soldiers, which the British Government has admitted to training, have been collaborating with a paramilitary death squad in the municipality of Argelia. The soldiers have allegedly allowed the paramilitaries free reign in and around the town of Sinai where they have carried out several murders and threatened to kill two teachers who are members of the union.

According to the statement the High Mountain Battalion troops allowed a large number of paramilitaries into Sinai on April 25th whereupon they began issuing threats and telling people that if they did not do as they were told they would either have to leave the region or be killed. The paramilitaries repeatedly threatened to kill two teacher trade unionists, Beatriz Elena Rivera and Luis Enrique Rosero. Both were forced to flee along with their families.

Less than ten days later, at around 8pm on May 4th, the soldiers again allowed the paramilitaries into the area, whereupon they shot and killed Segundo Claudio Munoz. Mr Munoz, the father of three school-age children was a community leader and chair of the Parent-Teacher Association in the local school in Sinai. He was shot seven times.

On May 6th another four families fled the region after being threatened.

Local people have also accused troops of the High Mountain Battalion of being involved in the February 9th assassination of ASOINCA-FECODE activist Jose Giraldo Mamian who was killed in the village of La Vega, also in Cauca.

Despite widespread opposition to British military aid to the Colombian Army, the UK Government continues to provide unconditional military assistance to numerous military units including those involved in extra-judicial executions, assassinations of trade unionists and torture.

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