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Colombia: Death threats against human rights organisations and human rights defenders
On 4 July 2012, thirteen human rights defenders received an email containing a death threat from a paramilitary group in which they were declared to be military targets.
On 4 July 2012, at 15:33, an email was sent to Mr Iván Cepeda, Congressman and spokesperson for Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Estado – MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of the State), Ms Gloria Cuartas and Ms Piedad Córdoba, members of the Colectivo de Colombianos y Colombianas por la Paz (Colombian Collective for Peace), Ms Yessika Hoyos and Ms Soraya Gutiérrez, lawyers with the Colectivo José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), Mr Diego Martínez and Mr Jeison Paba Reyes, Comité Permanente de Derechos Humanos – CPDH (Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights), Ms Aida Quilcué, from the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca – CRIC (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca), Mr José Humberto Torres and Mr Franklin Castañeda, from the Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos – CSPP (Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee), Mr Pedro Geney, member of the Sucre branches of MOVICE and H.I.J.O.S., Ms Lilia Solano, President of the Proyecto Justicia y Vida (Justice and Life Project), and Mr Juan Díaz Chamorro, leader of the Sucre branch of MOVICE and the son of Eudaldo Díaz, assassinated Mayor of El Roble.
The email from the Anti-land Restitution Army stated: “Nuestro ejercito tiene instrucciones claras para dar de baja a estos malparidos que quiere quitarle la tierra los ciudadanos de bien para darsela a guerrilleros igual que ellos.Quedan advertidos y en conocimiento pues te tenemos plenamente identificado sus esquemas y a los que no tambien hijueputas guerrilleros de mierda que con la excusa de ser defensor de derechos humanos pretenden mediante toda clase de arbitrariedades despojar de sus terrenos a los verdaderos propietarios para que terminen en manos de un puñado de guerrilleros malparidos hijos de perra” (Our army has clear instructions to get rid of these bastards who want to take the land away from the good citizens to give it to guerrillas like themselves. Be warned and take note of the fact that we have you fully identified, your schemes and also bastard guerrillas who with the excuse of being a human rights defender seeks by all manner of arbitrariness to strip the land from its rightful owners so that it ends up in the hands of a handful of guerrilla bastards).
In January 2012 the Victims and Land Restitution Law, which was signed in June 2011, came into effect in Colombia. The law seeks to provide reparations to those who have suffered human rights abuses in the armed conflict and to restore land to those whose land was seized by armed groups. The Anti-land Restitution Army claims to be a new armed group set up to fight what they believe to be unjust land restitution and to defend the interests of those who benefited from the land theft and displacement of farmers. This email comes in the context of a number of death threats issued by the anti-land restitution army against human rights defenders and organisations working with communities on issues relating to land.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders, as well as the security of other members of those organisations, and believes that this death threat is directly linked to their legitimate human rights activities. Given the fact that Colombia continues to record some of the highest levels of attacks on human rights defenders, including killings, as well as alleged links between right-wing paramilitary groups and the security agencies of the State, Front Line Defenders reiterates that immediate measures must be taken to protect those who remain at risk as a result of death threats.