Colombia: more state terror at Peace Community

A March 9 communique from the San Jos√© de Apartad√≥ Peace Community in Colombia’s northern Urab√° region (our translation):

The Peace Community of San José of Apartadó denounces new abuses committed by the public forces against the civil population of the zone. The facts that we make known and leave for history are:

* On Friday March 3 at around 5 in the afternoon, army troops arrived at the house of the young woman NELLY JOHANA DURANGO in the hamlet of La Resbalosa. Moments earlier, militiamen [presumably paramilitaries] had passed near the house. The army violently removed Nelly Johana, 18 years of age, and carried her away, after comletely destroying the dwelling. The young woman, dressed in an undershirt, shorts and sandals, has not been seen since that moment, and no more is known of her. The community immediately reported the incident to the Defensor√≠a del Pueblo [Colombian human rights ombudsman] and the Attorney General’s office, but we have received no answer. We only have the version of the army, which claims it had no troops in the zone.

* On March 8, members of the National Police in the neighborhood known as Mangolo, on the outskirts of Apartadó [the municipal seat] on the road towards San José, established a position of control from which they carried out illegal actions, such as a census of the people headed this way. When confronted about the legality of these actions, the police officers responded that they do what they want and they did not care if they were denounced for it.

Again we see that the forcefully violent actions of the public forces against the civil population. Again they lie with the same excuse as always. It is very easy to deny the physical presence [of security forces in the area] to avoid the assigning of responsibility. The killers have a very clear strategy: they lie to “disappear” and to murder. As community we fear for the life of the young woman NELLY JOHANA DURANGO. The facts that surrounded her disappearance worry us and we call for national and international solidarity to pressure the Colombian to halt its deadly actions against the civil population, and to demand responses on the whereabouts of NELLY JOHANA DURANGO, and stop the arbitrary use of public force to intimidate and to destroy the organization of our communities.

In a March 1 letter, 59 members of the US Congres call upon Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to “certify” Colombia as complying with human rights strictures on US aid this year, citing the situation at San Jos√© de Apartad√≥. The letter is online in Spanish at Red de Defensores.

See our last posts on Colombia and San José de Apartado.

  1. An update: death confirmed
    A new statement from the Peace Community:

    Today, March 15, it has been confirmed that the army murdered to NELLY JOHANA DURANGO… Inquiries to the Attorney General’s office revealed that a body similar to the description of Nelly was in the morgue at Tierra Alta (Department of Cordoba). The body was reported by the army was to be that of a fallen guerrilla. Members of the community and representatives of the Attorney General’s office and the Defensor√≠a accompanied a relative of Nelly to identify the body. Today it has been verified that the body is that of Nelly… It is evident that after the massacre of February 21 carried out by the army [it] was decided that they would murder us one by one monthly…