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Colombia: Attempted assassination of human rights defenders Oscar Arturo Orozco and Wilson Jaramillo
Oscar Arturo Orozco is President of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Caldas – CUT (Colombian Confederation of Workers) and President of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Energía de Colombia in Caldas – SINTRAELECOL (Electrical Union of Colombia).
Wilson Jaramillo is the Secretary General of CUT Caldas, and both are members of Caldas branch of the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Estado - MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of the State).
On 4 August 2012 Oscar Arturo Orozco and Wilson Jaramillo were travelling to Arauca to a meeting of fisherfolk from the region, when their vehicle was attacked about 5 kilometres from their destination, in Santagueda, Palestina. The vehicle was shot at more than 14 times by an individual on a motorbike and also from what appeared to a person hiding in a ravine nearby. As a result of the quick reaction by the bodyguards nobody was injured in the incident.
The human rights defenders were en route to chair a meeting with local fisherfolk who have been denouncing environmental irregularities caused by the Central Hidroelectrica de Caldas - CHEC (Caldas Hydroelectric Power), arguing that the adverse effects of the CHEC actions is negatively impacting their livelihoods.
Since 2011 the SINTRAELECOL offices have been receiving a number of leaflets with messages cut-out from newspapers and magazines threatening the life of Oscar Arturo Orozco. In July 2012 one of these leaflets also had photographs of bullet casings.
Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern for the physical and psychological integrity of Oscar Arturo Orozco and Wilson Jaramillo and believes that this assassination attempt is directly related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights work and in particular their activities promoting the rights of workers and the right to a healthy environment. Given the fact that Colombia continues to record some of the highest levels of attacks on human rights defenders, including killings, Front Line Defenders reiterates that immediate measures must be taken to protect those who remain at risk as a result of attacks.