24 Assassinations and Mass Round-Up of Civilians in Colombian Region of Arauca

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 12 May 2009

At least 2,000 civilians have been arbitrarily detained in recent years in the remote Colombian region of Arauca say local human rights groups following the recent arrest of a large group of trade unionists, community leaders and others last week. The latest roundup follows weeks of intense violence which saw more than 20 civilians, again including trade unionists and community leaders, assassinated. During one week in April alone nine people were murdered.

As reported on previously here and here, violence has wracked Arauca for months though the recent upsurge has seen what can only be described as a systematic campaign of murders aimed at local residents whom the state security forces and rightwing paramilitary death squads accuse of being sympathetic to leftwing guerrilla groups that operate in the area.

On May 9th at least 13 residents of the small town of Saravena were all taken away by the police accused of being guerrilla supporters. Among those arrested were trade unionist Ildebarndo Alvarez Ibarra, community leader Alvaro Albarracin and local residents Nelson Jaimes Roman, Edwin Fernando Amaya Suarez, Pablo Mendoza, Jesus Evelio Alvarado Pabon, Israel Colmenares Aceros, Reinaldo Hernandez Mahecha, Alexander Traslavina, Juan Carlos Barrera Molin and Felipe Lopez Galindon. Two students, Jose Miguel Amado Tellez and Angie Lorena Daza Alfonso, were also taken.

According to the 'Joel Sierra' Human Rights Committee, the main human rights group operating in Arauca, the latest arrests bring to over 2,000 the number of people that have now been detained in this way. The Committee says that most of the detentions are based on the testimony of paid informants who work alongside of the security forces and are given cash payments for each person that they accuse of having guerrilla links.

Recent assassinations in the region have included:

May 10th: Adrian Maria Pulido was murdered at her home in the El Cielo neighbourhood of the town of Tame.

May 6th: Juan Manuel Castano Sanacria was assassinated in the San Antonio neighbourhood of Tame.

May 4th: Carlos Vasquez, the leader of a local displaced community in the municipality of Arauquita, and his colleague Melquis Ortiz, were both shot dead in the afternoon at a place known as El Troncal on the outskirts of the town of Arauquita.

May 3rd: Pedro Vicente Corredor is assassinated on the road between the towns of Saravena and Puerto Narino.

April 28th: Wilmer Quintero Paez and Antolino Vargas Sanchez are both found dead just over the Venezuelan border from the town Arauquita. They had been reported missing the previous day.

April 25th: 15-year-old Lina Judith Ramon Castillo is shot dead in the village of Corocito in Tame municipality.

April 24th: Milton Blanco Leguizamon, a teacher and active trade unionist, is assassinated in the town of Tame.

April 23rd: Emilse Gamboa Angarita and her husband Jose Rodriguez Carrascal are both shot dead after armed men break into their house in the community of Esmeralda in a rural part of Arauquita municipality.

April 21st: Olimpo Cardenas Castaneda, a peasant farmer, is assassinated at the 'La Fortuna' farm in the community of Las Nubes in Tame municipality. Mr Cardenas Castaneda was a witness in a legal case against the Colombian Air Force for a bombing in 1998 that killed 17 civilians.

April 20th: Miguel Angel Pimiento Rojas is killed in the village of La Arenosa in Tame municipality.

April 18th: Teodolinda Rodriguez, the president of the Community Action Council in the village of El Susto, in Tame municipality, is assassinated.

April 14th: Jose Domingo Rolon is assassinated in the village of Lejanias in Tame municipality.

April 13th: Jose Asuncion Perez Pacheco and his 8-year-old son Cristian Eduardo Perez Valencia are killed on the road between the town of Saravena and the village of Buenos Aires. His wife, Maria Lucrecia Valencia Villamizar, and their other child, 6-year-old Brayan Andres Perez, were also wounded in the attack.

April 12th: John Jairo Monterrey and Marcos Merchan Hernandez were both assassinated in the Puerto Lleras area of Saravena municipality.

April 12th: Ramon Rincon Camargo and his brother Blas Rincon Camargo, both local community activists in the village of Cravo Charo, are assassinated in the nearby village of Alto Cauca in the municipality of Tame. In February their sister, Ema Rincon Camargo, had herself been assassinated.

April 9th: Alfonso Guerrero Diaz was killed in the community of La Esmeralda in Arauquita municipality.

April 7th: Edwin Torres Rubio was killed in the village of Botalon in Tame municipality.

April 6th: Edilberto Salcedo Rojas, a peasant farmer, is assassinated in the Puerto Lleras area of Saravena municipality.

Also see Another Massacre as New Report Says Army Executing Civilians in Colombian Region of Arauca and Peasant Farmer Association Targeted by Army in Colombia

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