May 2002

Eulises Trejo (m) Population of San Jose de Apartado
Killed: Fernando Puerta (m)
Dario Graciano Usuga (m)
Alexander Graciano (m)
Samuel Graciano(m)

Army-backed paramilitaries have reportedly killed several members of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, and threatened to kill others. They are still blockading the community, whose food supplies are running out.

Fernando Puerta was killed on 29 April, near the hamlet of La Union, which is part of the Peace Community. The other three men were shot dead in the hamlet of El Porvenir on 1 May. The gunmen were reportedly wearing insignia of the paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia.

On 4 May, 200 paramilitary gunmen reportedly went into La Union And searched the houses. The gunmen Reportedly threatened religious workers, who are staying in the community to give some protection by their presence, and threatened to attack the Peace Community's main hamlet, San Jose de Apartado. They declared that they were going to 'acabar con esos guerrilleros', 'finish off those guerrillas'.

The security forces and their paramilitary allies have frequently accused the inhabitants of the Peace Community of being guerrillas.

After these accusations the community have often come under attack in paramilitary operations coordinated or supported by the security forces. The Peace Community itself calls on both sides in the conflict to respect their right to life and not to be drawn into the conflict.

Nine banana workers were killed on 26 April, in the municipality of Apartado. The authorities blamed the killings on the armed opposition group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, (FARC), Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The security forces have responded to previous FARC attacks by increasing their accusations that the Peace Community is linked to the guerrillas. This has been followed by further human rights violations against the community.

The San Jose de Apartado Peace Community and non-governmental human rights organizations requested that the government set up a special commission to investigate the continuing grave human rights violations and abuses suffered by the community. A Comision de Investigacion y Seguimiento, Investigation and Follow-Up Commission, made up of State and government bodies, non- governmental human rights organizations and representatives of the Peace Community has been established.

FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- urging the authorities to investigate the killings of Fernando Puerta, Dario Graciano Usuga, Alexander Graciano and Samuel Graciano, in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado on 29 April and 1 May, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;

- urging them to ensure that the Comision de Investigacion y Seguimiento undertakes full and impartial investigations into these killings and other paramilitary operations, that the results are made public and those responsible brought to justice;

- calling for full and impartial investigations into the links between the security forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of Antioquia, with the results made public and those members of the security forces responsible for supporting and operating in unison with paramilitaries to be brought to justice;

- urging the authorities to take immediate and decisive action to confront and dismantle paramilitary groups in the municipality of Apartado and the whole of Antioquia, in line with government commitments and repeated recommendations made by the United Nations.

- urging them to order full and impartial investigations into the 26 April killing of nine banana workers in the municipality of Apartado, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.


President of Colombia:
Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana
Presidente de la Republica
Palacio de Narino
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafe de Bogota
Telegrams: President Pastrana, Bogota, Colombia

Telex: 396 44281 PALP CO
Fax: 011 57 1 566 2071
Salutation: Dear President Pastrana / Excelentisimo Sr. Presidente Pastrana

national Advocate for the people:
Sr. Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz
Defensor del Pueblo, Defensoria del Pueblo
Calle 55, No. 10-32/46 office 301
Santafe de Bogota
Telegram: National Advocate, Bogota, Colombia
Fax: 011 57 1 640 0491
Salutation: Dear Mr. Cifuentes Munoz / Estimado Sr. Cifuentes Munoz

Commander of the XVII Brigade of the Colombian Army:
Comandante XVII Brigada del Ejercito Nacional
General Pablo Rodriguez Laverde
Carepa, Uraba
Telegrams: Comandante, XVII Brigada Ejercito, Carepa,
Antioquia, COLOMBIA
Fax: 011 57 4 823 6844 (Say 'Me da el tono de fax, por favor')
Salutation: Dear Commander Rodriguez / Sr. Comandante Rodriguez

Non-governmental human rights organization:
Comision Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
AA 31861
Santafe de Bogota

Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Pl. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 232 8643