COLOMBIA: CPT accompanying CAHUCOPANA after threats to members by masked men

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CPTnet
27 May 2014
COLOMBIA: CPT accompanying CAHUCOPANA after threats to members by masked men 

 
   

Later this week, CPT Colombia will be accompanying CAHUCOPANA to
the First Regional Meeting of Women of Northeast Antioquia “In defence of the
territory and dignity” taking place in Dos Quebradas.  As CAHUCOPANA prepares for the upcoming workshop, their
members have received threats and harassment from armed masked men wearing
uniforms with no identification, presumed to be Colombian military.

The following official complaint describes
the harassment of Carlos Alfredo Palacio Usuga of CAHUCOPANA and Noemí Durango
Pérez of the regional Women’s Team for Humanitarian Action and makes three
demands:

  1. Colombian president, Juan
    Manuel Santos and his government must act accordingly to ensure the
    respect of human rights in the region;
  2. Respective authorities need to
    investigate the case and those guilty be penalized according to the
    infractions of International Humanitarian Law and the violations of the communities’
    human rights;
  3. UN High Commission for Human
    Rights in Colombia should monitor the situation and recommend a course of
    action for the Colombian government.

 Summary of Complaint

On Saturday 24 May, Carlos was en
route to Dos Quebradas, organizing the logistical preparations for this weekend’s
Regional Meeting of Women when he had an encounter with a group of fifteen uniformed
men.  They forced him to this
knees, pushing his head down so he could not see them clearly, took out a
pistol, removed the safety latch, put it to his head, and began to interrogate
him about where he was going and a number of sweat suits they discovered in his
bag.  He identified himself as
belonging to the human rights organization CAHUCOPANA and said that the sweat suits
were part of the uniform of the Youth Committee of the nearby hamlet of Villa
Nueva.  They told him that the
clothes were not uniforms and that that they were going to kill him.  When
they asked where he was headed, he said, “Doña Carmen’s house,” to which they
responded, “we hope that’s true, because if not, things will be worse for you.”

Shortly afterwards Noemí, who was
traveling by horse, had an encounter with what appeared to be the same
soldiers.  One of them had his face
masked.  Pointing their guns at her
they told her to dismount, and get down on her knees.  They lifted her blouse and sweatpants,
examined her body and hands, which were calloused from her farm work, and said,
“those are not the hands of a housewife,” which was the excuse they used for
taking away her boots while they asked her about the whereabouts of guerrillas.

Except for the absence of the
official insignias and the fact that some of them had their faces masked, these
men wore military uniforms and had the equipment normally associated with
Colombian military.

CPT
Colombia condemns these acts of intimidation against the rural population of
Northeast Antioquia.  We join CAHUCOPANA
in petitioning President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, as leader of the Armed
Forces, to guarantee that the norms of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) be
respected.  The infractions of the
IHL, the violation of basic human rights of civilians, and scare tactics
targeted at Human Rights Defenders through arbitrary detention, restriction of
movement, harassment and the physical and psychological torture are a cause for
great concern.

Read the full official complaint (in Spanish) here

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