Go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/urgent/newslett.html

to read this month's newsletter.


11 April 2002

UA 111/02 Fear for safety/abduction


Arturo Vasquez Galeano (m), community leader and trade union




Diofanol Sierra Vargas (m) ]

Oscar Alfonso Jurado (m) ] Trade union leaders

Alfredo Zapata Herrera (m) ]



Trade union activist Arturo Vasquez Galeano was abducted on 5

April, by men believed to be army-backed paramilitaries. Another

trade union leader had been killed two days earlier, and two more

have been killed since. Amnesty International is gravely concerned

for his safety, and for that of other trade unionists in Colombia.


Arturo Vasquez Galeano is a member of the umbrella organisation of

Colombian trade unions, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT),

Colombian Trade Union Confederation. He was leaving work in

Abejorral Municipality, Antioquia Department, on his way to Medellin,

when he was abducted.


One of the leaders of the cement workers' union (SUTIMAC), Alfredo

Zapata Herrera, had been abducted on 3 April as he travelled home

from his job at the El Cairo Cement Works, Antioquia Department, on

the employees' bus. Members of the army-backed paramilitary group

Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), United Self-Defence

Forces of Colombia, reportedly stopped the bus, forced Alfredo off

and took him away. His body was found the following day, near the

spot where he had been abducted, with several gunshot wounds.


On 8 April 2002, paramilitaries reportedly broke into the house of food

workers' union (SINTRAINAL) leader Diofanol Sierra Vargas, in

Barrancabermeja, Santander department. They dragged him into the

street and shot him dead in front of his family.


The next day in Cali, Valle del Cauca Department, trade unionist

Oscar Alfonso Jurado was shot twice by an unknown gunman, and

died instantly, as he waited for a bus to work. He was one of the

leaders of the chemical workers' union, SINTRAQUIM.



The security and armed forces and their paramilitary allies have often

accused trade unionists, of being guerrilla sympathizers or auxiliaries.

As a result trade unionists have frequently been harassed, tortured

and killed, often by paramilitaries. The International Confederation of

Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) recorded that in 2001 alone, over 160

trade unionists were murdered, and that harassment and violence is

widespread. According to reports from the CUT, so far this year some

50 trade unionists have been killed the majority by army-backed



SINALTRAINAL and SUTIMAC trade union members have been

threatened by army-backed paramilitaries in the past (UA 59/02

issued 25 February 2002 and UA 74/01 issued 30 March 2001).


The full details of the three murdered trade unionists are as follows:

- Diofanol Sierra Vargas: Director of the Sindicato Nacional de

Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos - Seccional

Barrancabermeja, (SINALTRAINAL), National Union of Food Industry

Workers - Barrancabermeja Section;


- Oscar Alfonso Jurado: Director of the Sindicato Nacional de

Trabajadores de la Industria Quimica de Colombia - Seccional

Yumbo, (SINTRAQUIM), National Union of Chemical Industry

Workers - Yumbo Section, Valle del Cauca Department;


- Alfredo Zapata Herrera: Director of the Sindicato Unitario de

Trabajadores de la Industria de Materiales para la Construccion -

Seccional Santa Barbara, (SUTIMAC), Cement Workers Union -

Santa Barbara Section, Antioquia



RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

as possible:

- urging the authorities to order an independent, impartial and

conclusive investigation into the abduction of Arturo Vasquez

Galeano, and bring those responsible to justice;

- urging them to take immediate action to ensure that Arturo Vasquez

Galeano is released unharmed;

- expressing concern for the safety of CUT trade union activists

nationally following the abduction of Arturo Vasquez Galeano and the

killing of Diofanol Sierra Vargas, and Alfredo Zapata Herrera by army-

backed paramilitaries and Oscar Alfonso Jurado by unidentified


- asking the authorities what measures, deemed appropriate by


they are going to take to guarantee their safety;

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the

security forces and paramilitary groups operating in the departments

of Antioquia, Santander and Valle del Cauca, and urging that the

results are made public and those found responsible for supporting

and participating in such groups are brought to justice;

- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle

paramilitary groups, in line with stated government commitments and

recommendations made by the UN and other intergovernmental






President of the Republic:

Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana Arango

Presidente de la Republica

Palacio de Narino

Carrera 8 No.7-26

Santafe de Bogota


Fax: 011 57 1 566 2071

Salutation: Dear President Pastrana Arango / Excmo. Sr.

Presidente Pastrana Arango


Minister of Interior:

Sr. Armando Estrada Villa

Ministro del Interior

Ministerio del Interior

Palacio Echeverry

Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.

Santafe de Bogota


Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 562 5298 (if someone answers say 'me da

tono de fax por favor')

Salutation: Dear Sir / Sr. Ministro


Commander of the Armed Forces:

General Fernando Tapias Stahelin

Comandante General de las Fuerzas Militares

Avenida El Dorado - Carrera 52,

Santafe de Bogota


Telegrams: Comandante Fuerzas Militares, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 222 2096

Salutation: Dear Commander Tapias Stahelin / Sr. General

Tapias Stahelin



Trade Union Confederation:

Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia

Calle 35 N0 7-25, Piso 9

Santafe de Bogota



Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno

Embassy of Colombia

2118 Leroy Pl. NW

Washington DC 20008

Fax: 1 202 232 8643




Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office

between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if

sending appeals after May 23, 2002.


Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement

that promotes and defends human rights.


Please do not repost this appeal to any part of the Internet

without prior permission from Amnesty International. Thank you for

your help with this appeal.


Urgent Action Network

Amnesty International USA

PO Box 1270

Nederland CO 80466-1270

Email: uan@aiusa.org


Phone: 303 258 1170

Fax: 303 258 7881