Colombian Opposition Activist Murdered, Numerous Others Receive Death Threats

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 30 April 2009

A leading member of the Democratic Pole opposition party in Colombia has been gunned down in front of his home in the city of Cartagena. Sixto Guillermo Asprilla, who was also known for his work with Afro-Colombian communities, was shot dead at around 7pm on April 28th as he stood outside his house in the suburb of Turbaco talking to his wife. His killing follows a month of threats and harassment against several members of the Democratic Pole one of the two principle opposition parties in Colombia as well as the opening of legal proceedings against one of the party's regional deputies.

Recent incidents have included:

April 30th: Jose Padaui Gomez, President of the Democratic Pole (DP) in Bolivar region, receives a death threat telling him that he will soon be murdered. Also mentioned in the threat is Luis Alberto Mendoza, President of the regional teachers' trade union SUDEB, who is leader of the DP in the city of Cartagena.

April 25th: Over Dorado Cardona, a DP activist and President of the teachers' trade union ADIDA in the region of Antioquia, receives several death threats. The first threat is made by telephone to the ADIDA office in the city of Medellin whilst a second threat arrives later in the day via e-mail. Mr Cardona, who has been threatened before, is believed to be in grave danger of assassination due both to his political and trade union activities. Although he previously received protection, the Colombian authorities withdrew this in November 2007.

April 22nd: Mauricio Meza Blanco, a human rights activist, member of the DP and the President of the Compromiso NGO, is violently assaulted by unknown men who pull up in a van outside of his home in the city of Bucaramanga just as he is leaving. The men also attempted to force him into the van and reportedly made reference to his work during the assault. Mr Meza, who was a candidate for the DP in the last regional elections, has been working with Compromiso to highlight the damaging environmental effects of several large agricultural and energy projects in the region.

April 20th: A regional prosecutor announces that he is opening legal proceedings against Wilson Arias Castillo, a DP member of the city of Cali council. The proceedings are related to a protest held by public sector workers in the city on March 26th after they had been sacked from their jobs. Mr Arias Castillo attended the event and was later accused of inciting violence despite the fact that he had arrived after it had begun and after ESMAD riot police had attacked the protesters.

April 4th: Jhon Edinson Sajonero Gomez, a leader of the DP youth wing and student at the University of Pamplona, is threatened at a restaurant in the city of Pamplona in Norte de Santander region.

For previous articles see:

March 2009, Opposition Political Activist Killed in Colombia

March 2009, Human Rights Defender Murdered

Nov 2008, Repression of Colombian Political Opposition Continues

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