Members of two human rights organisations are being targeted by wiretapping and illegal surveillance because of their efforts to promote peace.
One of these organizations is the Commission for Justice and Peace, and human rights defenders, Danilo Ruedo and the priest Alberto Franco. It is claimed that Danilo is linked to the FARC and the ELN guerilla groups through illegal activities such as planning violent actions and trying to delegitimize the State through the media, through analytical reports and lectures, on the radio and through regional workshops on peace and justice. It is claimed that Alberto Franco has been a sounding board for public statements in the media.
The source said that the illegal surveillance is intended to delegitimize the human rights defenders and their organizations with possible raids and, in the medium term, an assessment of any violent action.
The information, which was received last Friday night from an official source who for obvious reasons does not want to reveal their name, but who is a reliable source, is about so-called “intelligence” which that aims to show “positive” results in disrupting the urban networks of the two armed movements.
In the last few days strange men have been noticed near the headquarters and the cars used to transport the human rights defenders have been intermittently followed by different types of vehicles.
Although the name of the other human rights organization was requested, this was not revealed.
The source finished by pointing out that the monitoring of members of social movements like Marcha Patriotica and the People’s Congress in the city of Bogota, will intensify, particularly on those who are seen by the “intelligence” as being linked to the guerillas.
Our legal and legitimate work shows no signs of illegality, so the “intelligence” follows us to try and find some. Since the birth of our organization 27 years ago, its members have been inspired by the very ethics of the human rights defenders, having a preferential attitude towards the defense of the persecuted and those who are impoverished because of powerful factions who use legal and illegal violence, the judicial system, lies, corruption and who manipulate their influence in order to maintain the formality of the rule of law through comprehensive violations of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental human rights.
The promotion of peace is and always has been what we preach, built from a society that sees peace as the fruit of social and environmental justice, just like our laws call for. Understanding the violence, understanding the difference between human rights violations in the context of international human rights law and humanitarian law, does not make us party to the hostilities, neither does it make us members of either side of the armed conflict. Constructing humanitarian proposals and supporting the initiatives of the victims and survivors in building peace, like our support for ‘Colombianos y Colombianos por la Paz’, for CONPAZ, for ‘Pueblos Construyendo Paz’, or legally defending the members of Marcha Patriotica or the People’s Congress, is not an illegal action or support for terrorism.
We call on the rationality of these “intelligence” sectors to reflect upon and break their rigid patterns which are rooted in national security issues and to adhere, as citizens who should adhere, to democratic standards in respect of privacy and freedom of expression and association. Not only that, but also to understand that human rights defenders and social movements are part of a citizenship with rights that we want to see brought in by democracy with a social and environmental state of law, where these movements, and of course, the children of the excluded, the violated and the plundered, can also live with rights and with dignity.
We are open to public and legal scrutiny, but not to the rough, dark mud-slinging and other activities which are put together unfairly and show no moral expression from those sectors of society who want, at all costs, to show “positives”, and therefore make up their own degeneration, degradation and indignity out of their so-called official “intelligence”.
We had hoped that this “intelligence” would operate to effectively dismantle the criminal structure that has prevented our work in defense of human rights in Mancilla and Pedeguita, where there have been death threats, four on our members, but no guarantee is provided for our protection and for environmental, ethnic and territorial rights. Or for what happened in Buenaventura on 11 July, when neo-paramilitaries (including “La Ojona” and “La Pepita”) threatened to blow us up because we opposed the abuse and involving young girls in forced sex work.
Bogotá, 13 June 2015
Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace