Update on Arauca
News from Colombia |
on: Wednesday, 20 August 2008
In recent months the Justice for Colombia office has received numerous reports from the Colombian region of Arauca documenting hundreds of human rights violations including 24 assassinations of civilians. Here we provide a summarised record of them:
18th August, human rights organisations say that an upsurge in killings in and around the town of Saravena has coincided with the presence of Army Colonel Luis Francisco Medina in the town. According to the human rights community Colonel Medina is considered the intellectual author of the murder of three senior trade unionists in Arauca in 2004.
15th August, an e-mail is sent to municipal authorities in the town of Fortul in which death threats are made against the mayor, several local councillors, trade unionists and other civil society leaders. The e-mail is signed by the 'Black Eagles' – a rightwing paramilitary death squad.
12th August, regional human rights organisations complain that police officers in the town of Saravena are allowing paramilitaries free movement through security check points despite the fact that the paramilitaries are carrying out regular assassinations.
11th-12th August, soldiers occupy the 'Pinzon' and 'Palmeras' neighbourhoods of the town of Saravena. The soldiers leave during the night during which time AUC paramilitary graffiti has appeared on the walls. The AUC refers to the Army-backed paramilitaries that operate in Colombia.
11th August, at approximately 5pm Alexander Tulivila (29) is assassinated in the 'Seis de Octubre' neighbourhood in the town of Saravena. Human rights organisations blame Army-backed paramilitaries for the killing.
10th August, at 9.20pm Luis Alejandro Diaz Villamizar (18) is assassinated in the 'La Chorizada de Papi' commercial establishment in the town of Saravena. Human rights organisations blame Army-backed paramilitaries for the killing.
8th August, trade unionist and opposition political leader Luis Mayusa Prada (46) is assassinated in the town of Saravena – see Opposition Political Activist & Trade Unionist Killed for full story.
8th August, Uriel Ortego Caceres (31) is assassinated in the community of Puerto Contreras in Saravena municipality. As they leave the assassins are allowed to pass through an Army roadblock manned by soldiers of the 'Reveis Pizarro' Battalion.
5th August, Omar Yesid Tarazona (29) is assassinated in the 'Cuatro de Diciembre' neighbourhood of the town of Saravena. Human rights organisations blame Army-backed paramilitaries for the killing.
3rd-11th August, graffiti appears around the town of Saravena saying "The AUC is coming" – again a reference to paramilitaries.
3rd August, Wilson Rodriguez Mosquera (31) assassinated in the village of Puerto Contreras in Saravena municipality. As they leave, the assassins are allowed to pass through an Army roadblock manned by soldiers of the 'Reveis Pizarro' Battalion.
21st July, soldiers of the 30th Mobile Brigade of the Colombian Army enter the communities of Laureles Uno, Laureles Dos and Cano Azul in the rural part of Tame municipality. A Captain Martinez, who was leading the troops, accuses residents of the three villages of being 'guerrillas' and said that his men would shortly be returning to detain various people and take them away.
8th July, human rights organisations say that in order to avoid the Army being blamed, soldiers in Arauca are disguising themselves as paramilitaries to carry out killings and other abuses.
7th July, at 7pm near the village of Playas de Bojaba in Saravena municipality Rafael Segundo Tamaran (18) and his 7-month pregnant wife Maribel Sepulveda Bokota (17) are assassinated. Both are members of the U'wa indigenous group.
7th July, at around 6pm Pedro Emilio Caicedo (58) is assassinated in the town of Tame.
5th July, an army patrol led by a Lieutenant Cortez arrives in the village of Amparo in Arauquita municipality. The soldiers set up camp in the community school and several outposts in houses in the community putting the lives of residents and school children in grave danger. Two days later a human rights commission made up of both Colombian and international delegates arrive in the village and ask the Army to stop using the civilian population as human shields and to leave the civilian buildings. The army refuse and continue using the buildings for a further ten days. Furthermore, the soldiers repeatedly ask children attending the school for intelligence on local people – a clear breach of international humanitarian law.
5th July, at 3.30pm seven armed men in civilian clothes arrive at the village of Cano Seco in Saravena municipality and force people into the central square where they begin searching them. The men also shoot at one person. Ten minutes later an Army convoy made up of troops of the 'Reveis Pizarro' Battalion arrives. The armed men then leave together with the Army patrol.
June, throughout the month military aircraft carry out bombing, machine gunning and fumigation from the air in and around various rural communities in the municipality of Tame leading to the destruction of food crops and farm animals. Simultaneous ground operations by troops of the 5th Mobile Brigade in the same communities put civilians' lives at risk by using their homes as military posts.
1st June, Andelfo Arias (47) and Alfredo Galeano Forero (48), peasant farmers in the village of Alto San Joaquin in Saravena municipality, are extra-judicially executed by an army patrol.
1st June, at 9am Parmenio Romero (39) is assassinated in the village of Puerto Narino in Tame municipality.
1st June, Eulises Ezequiel Bello (30) is assassinated in the village of Remolinos in Saravena municipality.
29th May, teacher Natalia Diaz is assassinated in the town of Puerto Rondon. Her mother and her 8-year-old son, Sebastian Castro, who were with her when she was killed, were both also injured.
29th May, Mireya Acosta (19) is assassinated at a place known as Costa Hermosa near the city of Arauca.
28th May, paramilitary death threats appear on the walls of a community radio station threatening several journalists who have also received individual death threats by text message in recent weeks – see Paramilitaries Threaten Journalists for more information.
28th May, the body of Edgar Leonardo Tejada (27) is found under a bridge near to his home on the banks of the Cano Agua Limon River.
22nd May, 75-year-old pensioner Damian Acosta Pallares is assassinated in the village of La Arenosa in Fortul municipality.
19th May, Alirio Manrique Morantes (33), a farmer, is assassinated at a place known as Puente Politico near the town of Saravena where he lived in the El Prado neighbourhood.
12th May, local taxi driver Manuel Antonio Gelves is assassinated in the town of Saravena.
11th May, at around 8pm Jose de Jesus Bolivar (45), a farmer, is assassinated in the village of La Arabia near the town of Tame.
11th May, Luis Eduardo Chacon (40), a farmer, is assassinated in the village of Nuevo Horizonte in Tame municipality.
11th May, Jairo Sepulveda Rico (33), an indigenous person, is assassinated in the Puerto Arturo area of Saravena municipality.
11th May, at 9am armed men enter the farm of trade unionist Luis Orlando Gelves in the village of Nuevo Oriente in Tame municipality and assassinate him in front of his wife and children.
9th May, Jesus Alvarez Echeverria (46) is assassinated in his house in the Villa Fanny neighbourhood of the town of Saravena.
This is just the latest in an ongoing and systematic campaign of violence in the department of Arauca – one of the most heavily militarised regions in Colombia. Below are links to previous Justice for Colombia stories on what is happening in the region.
May 2008, Paramilitaries Threaten Journalists
April 2008, 24 Civilians Murdered in Arauca Department
February 2008, One Region, Two Weeks, Eleven Assassination
February 2008, Teacher Trade Unionist Shot Dead
January 2008, Mass Detention in Arauca
December 2007, Trade Union Leader Receives Death Threats
October 2007, Killings and Detentions in Arauca Region Rocket
September 2007, Indiscriminate bombing causing terror and displacement
September 2007, Army assassinating civilians in Arauca