Friday, November 1, 2013
In what appears to be a new chapter in the judicial attacks and criminalization of inhabitants who affirm their right to the territory, a few days ago the Afro-descendant Julio César Tordecilla was arbitrarily detained by members of the 17th Brigade using illegal procedures.
Julio César, a member of the Puerto Lleras Community Council, received a phone call while in the Mutatá municipality. A man who claimed to be from the Attorney General’s office offered him a “job” to dismantle the 34th and 57th fronts of the FARC. He refused, since he does not know or belong to the armed movement. After he ended the call, two armed men approached him. They pressured him to accept the “job.” The Afro-Colombian repeated his refusal to accept the proposal.
At the end, the two men told him to “bury” the proposal and forget the conversation.
Minutes later, members of the public security forces got out of a truck and detained Julio César, yelling at him to not move. The member of the community council demanded respect for his rights and was taken to the police station in Chigorodó. In that place, his identity documents were taken, and also a talcum powder that he uses daily. The police claimed it was cocaine and took him to a cell where he spent the night.
In the morning of the following day, the public defender, on becoming aware of the case, told him that it was his right to not accept the charges, considering the absence of any real responsibility in the transport of drugs.
In the hearing, the judge ordered the release of Julio César. At the same hearing, it was mentioned that there existed a case that would be followed up against seven more persons in the Puerto Lleras Community Council and three Indigenous people from Alto Guayabal for being members or collaborators of the FARC guerrillas.
More than six years ago, a trial was initiated against more than fifty people, among them fourteen members of the community councils. Through false testimonies and witnesses, they were accused of being responsible for the forced displacement, assassinations, and disappearances in Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó.
This case is still open. Two innocent people from the community councils were detained but have since been released.
The case against Julio César appears to be the beginning of a new judicial attack by the 17th Brigade running against due process.
The Attorney General’s office has the responsibility to indicate whether or not its officials are part of this conspiracy. It is an operation that seeks to penalize inhabitants who have committed the sole crime of affirming their right to the land and territory that is the object of the ambition of mining companies, ranchers, and palm growers in the context of armed conflict.
Bogotá, D.C., October 31, 2013
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission