Army Attacks on Civilian Population Continue in Colombian Region of Meta

News from Colombia | on: Monday, 18 May 2009

Further to a serious of reports on this site about abuses being perpetrated against residents of the eastern Colombian region of Meta, yet more serious violations of human rights, including several assassinations, have occurred in recent weeks. Local people and human rights groups say that Army units in the region are also allowing a paramilitary death squad to operate freely, and that soldiers and paramilitaries are regularly attacking and threatening community leaders and those involved in human rights work, forcing many to flee the area.

Several different sources in the region are trying to document the abuses that are occurring and it would appear from the regularity and extent of the attacks that there is a systematic policy on the part of the Army and paramilitaries to terrorise local people and force them out of their communities. In virtually all of the attacks those targeted are accused of being supporters, sympathisers or collaborators of the FARC guerrilla group, which has a strong presence in the region, though human rights groups say that in reality the military is simply trying to wipe-out opposition and those that speak out about what is going on. In a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law soldiers are also offering money to poverty-stricken children in the region in return for information on their parents, teachers and neighbours putting the children in danger themselves.

Recent attacks have included:

  • The May 15th attempt to kill Uriel Parga Galeano, the President of the Community Action Council in the village of Puerto Lucas, located in the municipality of Vista Hermosa, after masked men attempted to force their way into his home.
  • The April 29th murder of Hector Eduardo Pojas in front of an Army post in the Upper Ariari region of Meta by two men who arrived on a motorcycle with no number plate. His friend, Manuel Murillo, was also badly injured in the attack before the assassins left down a road where there is an army checkpoint.
  • The April 26th abduction of Jose Humberto Coronel by four hooded men from the community of La Cima in the Upper Ariari region of Meta.
  • The April 16th assassination by unidentified men armed with machetes of 60-year-old Maria Sanchez in her home in the Upper Ariari region of Meta. Nothing was stolen during the attack in which Ms Sanchez was tortured with knives before being murdered.
  • A March 21st incident in the Lower Ariari region of Meta which soldiers threatened to detain and thrown in jail a woman called Martha Cecilia unless she agreed to have sex with them.
  • The March 14th assassination of by soldiers of the 1st Mobile Brigade of the Colombian Army of community leader Luis Arbey Diaz Rubiano as reported on here: Community Leader Murdered by Colombian Soldiers
  • The March 5th attack by soldiers in the Lower Ariari region on two human rights activists from the Regional Committee for Human Rights. Both men were badly beaten by the troops who told them that they had to stop their human rights work whilst one, Neider Arena Gonzalez, was forced to strip naked and lie on top of an ant hill for 40 minutes. The two have now fled the region.
  • See also Army Implicated in Murder and Attempted Rape in Colombian Region of Meta which includes links to previous articles on the region.

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