Plan against a human rights defender, death threats and false witnesses against the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace

Plan to assassinate Fabio Ariza a human rights defender of the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, death threats directed at the leader Leydis Tuirán, intimidations directed at Zulinda Polo, and false witnesses testify against members of our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace in judicial proceedings in Medellín.

Bogotá, D.C. December 1st, 2010

President of Colombia

Vice-President of Colombia

Interior Minister

Foreign Relations Minister

Agriculture y Rural Development Minister

Vice Attorney General of the Nation (e)

Inspector General of the Nation

National Ombudsman

“[…] for seven years he had been monitored by the Thought Police […]. all of his actions […], had been recorded or deduced. Even the speck of whitish powder that Winston had left on the top of his diary had been carefully replaced.” Orwell, 1948

The following are our dispatches, our Historical Documentation and Ethical Censure, of information on a criminal plan to assassinate the human rights defender of our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, Fabio Ariza, death threats against Leydis Tuirán and intimidations directed at Zulinda Polo, and the use of the judicial apparatus as part of a judicial and media frame-up against women and men of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones and our Commission of Justice and Peace.

The absurd and equivocal understanding of our legal and legitimate work defending human rights, the Public Security Forces’ misrepresentation and manipulation of humanitarian concern for the protection of life and territory is the basis of their delirium of persecution, when the institutions are revealed to be part of the structure of a criminal strategy.

Instead of fulfilling their constitutional duty to protect life, property and honor, the Public Security Forces construct devices to plan and conduct attacks on citizens. They continue to view the communities, the human rights organizations and human rights defenders as domestic enemies, when the communities rightfully demand the restitution of the property that was seized from them by means of blood and fire.

For our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, it is not surprising that business sectors that benefit from paramilitary activity and proclaim “progress,” are behind the support and funding of the national and international smear campaign and the legal actions against the rights of the community leaders of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones, who in their persistence have been able to reveal the criminal network that is hidden behind the oil palm, cattle ranchers and other agribusiness.

This revelation has created an atmosphere of judicial prosecution against the leaders of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones and the human rights organizations. This prosecution has been calculated, orchestrated and designed by the victimizers and the business sectors that have been affected by the demands for truth, justice and integral reparation of the community leaders.

Our Historical Documentation of the grave events that reflect the absence of guarantees for the victims of violent displacement and the human rights defenders:

*Thursday, October 28th between 10am and 11am, five minutes from Llano Rico going towards Pavarandó, Fabio Ariza and Gisela Cañas, human rights defenders of our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, were followed by a motorcycle that operates as part of the paramilitary strategy. After several kilometers the motorcycle rushed towards the motorcycle that was transporting Fabio. Because of this, Fabio and Gisela got their motor taxi drivers to escape from the other driver. Looking back behind them, they observed that the other driver reduced his speed, appearing to have identified Fabio, and immediately communicated with someone by mobile phone.

* Sunday, November 21st at 4:00 p.m. a state institution and our Commission of Justice and Peace learned of a plan to assassinate the human rights defender, Fabio Ariza. According to the information, police agents of Urabá would participate in the attack within a paramilitary-style strategy.

* Tuesday, November 30th in the morning a highly credible source, linked with the police, who demanded to keep his name secret, recognized that the Urabá police located in Belén de Bajirá and Pavarandó, operate with paramilitary structures, just as the military. He said that Fabio Ariza had been identified as a military target, and that they gave orders and offered money for his assassination. The assassination would be justified as part of the cost of the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace’s work defending human rights, which they want to associate with the guerrilla actions of the FARC in the region.

* Wednesday December 1st around 10:15 a.m. our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace was informed of a document submitted by the National Police -Criminal Investigation- to the Attorney General 85 specializing in Medellín. The document was dated the 24th of December 2009, and pertained to the assassinations of Manuel Moya, Graciano Blandón and his son, Jair Blandón.
In the same process, there is a report from Captain Camilo Ernesto Chauta Díaz, as criminal investigator, in which the objective of the meeting between the victims and the FARC is referred to, according to which: “the FARC revealed to the present and former members of the Curvaradó board of directors, their mistake in having supported the NGO Interchurch Commission (sic) which is led by Father Javier Giraldo.
In another section the Captain falsely maintains that the guerrillas, the perpetrators of the triple murder, “would be located in the humanitarian zone of the Curvaradó River, using the legal safeguards that the settlement holds, in order to evade the security agencies.
The Criminal Investigation Section of the Urabá police argues a false, equivocal, mistaken interpretation of events, based on the same false witnesses, that is in accordance with the intercepted conversations between Rito Alejo del Río Rojas and Fernando Londoño Hoyos, that are part of the smear campaign and false judicial accusations against our organization.

Among them are Germán Marmolejo, a resident of Carmen del Darién; Adán Quinto, from the Cacarica river basin; and Jaime Beiter from the Domingodó river basin. These men are presented and wrongly assumed to be the representatives of the (governing) Councils of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó.

Jaime Beitar, falsely claims that the ranking criminal investigation body of the Urabá police, which “represents 370 families in Curvaradó”, alleges that Amelia Carrillo, public Ombudswoman, “remained in the installations of the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace community led by the Jesuit Father Javier Giraldo Moreno, because of which it’s considered that the investigations underway could be biased in favor of the NGO (…). Additionally, this report, which is based on this fallacious witness, states that: “They denounced before the Inspector General that within the communities they observed personnel of the guerrilla, for which the official (Amelia Carrillo) was dismissed who previously continued working with the NGO’s (sic) Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace (…)”

Concerning Germán Marmolejo, the police body takes up the accusation, according to which: “the Father Javier Giraldo (sic) the intellectual author of the homicides (of Manuel Moya, Graciano Blandón and his son) and according to the information, the intention would be to silence all the leaders of the river basins that are in opposition to the NGO.”
In connection with the story of Adán Quinto: “the homicides of these people were thought up within the peace community, once it became known that they would lose their protected status of the provisional measures obtained by members of the Community Councils of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó.”

In the declaration given before the Attorney General, without regard to the circumstances of means, time and place or to make an argument in any way, Hernando Olier, former council member of the municipality of Carmen del Darién, said: “Graciano Blandón and Manuel Moya did not defend the interests of the NGO Justice and Peace or the FARC, everyone knows that in this zone there is a marriage between the FARC and the NGO Justice and Peace (…) so many leaders that did not want to continue under the yoke of the FARC and under the yoke of this NGO, took back our autonomy. So then as we don’t accept the proposal of the NGO Justice and Peace headed by Father Javier Giraldo, who also manages the Cinep database, and likewise headed by Abilio Peña and Danilo Rueda, the proposal supported by all of their followers and accompanied by the international organization PBI (Peace Brigades International), we became a military target for the FARC. The intellectual authors of the assassinations of Manuel Moya, Graciano Blandón and his son…were the NGO Justice and Peace, Manuel Denis Blandon, Maria Ligia Chaverra and the FARC.”

The police criminal investigator, in order to support and maintain the false thesis hinged on discrediting the group, affirms that, “the state establishments and mass media have been emphatic in holding the FARC terrorists responsible for their crimes. The FARC which is favored by members of the NGO, the Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace, directed by the Jesuit Priest, Javier Giraldo Moreno, who had contributed to the internal division of these communities. The victims “were part of the group of afro-descendents who denounced to the Attorney General Human Rights Division 14, process #2022, the collusion and conspiracy between the FARC and the NGO Justice and Peace in the zone; the Marxist priest Javier Giraldo, director of Justice and Peace, and the international NGO PBI, who were being guided by the prosecutor Luis Alberto Reyes, who, according to the media, should respond for the direction he’s taken this investigation…”

Similarly, we discovered that a woman named María Fernanda has supported those who are behind the efforts to discredit us and file a lawsuit against us. We also discovered that this woman knew beforehand of the meeting of Moya and Blandón with the FARC. And she even knows the name of one of the guerrillas of the FARC, who were cited for the murder.

A demobilized FARC EP member, Virgilio Mena, known by the alias “Arlinton,” who is located in the army brigade 17 headquarters based in Carepa, Antioquia, falsely stated: “the order for the organizations that came was that they should cooperate with the FARC.” And he adds that, “the Upper Council informed the directors of the (FARC) front about a foreign organization in the area, because they disagreed with the FARC. Immediately thereafter, thirty guerrilla units were dispatched under the command of Yuri, armed with machine guns, in order to remove these people that were in Pueblo Nuevo. They dispatched twenty-five guerrilla units to Cuatro Tapas, under the command of the indigenous man, Marco, to remove the foreigners that the Upper Council had mentioned. And they dispatched twenty-five guerrilla units to Perro Mocho under the command of Nader and they took all of their satellite telephones and took the people to Murri.”
This last statement refers to the kidnapping and detention of five members of our Commission of Justice and Peace in April 2005.

It was discovered that the lawyer, Fernando Vargas, in an interview with the Attorney General in this same judicial process regarding the triple murder, said that he learned of denunciations “with respect to the pressure that is being exerted against them (sic) by the NGO Justice and Peace, the Priest Javier Giraldo, PBI and the FARC.

Vargas has participated in the smear campaigns and prosecutions before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with the goal of denying the continuity of our representation in the Court of the Lower Council members of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó that are in the collective territories as Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones.

While this all occurs against a prominent human rights defender like Fabio Ariza, new elements of the prosecution strategy are recognized in which the military and business sectors are entwined. The people of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones continue to observe the military’s complicity with the paramilitaries or ex-paramilitaries and with the bad-faith occupiers, and the continued death threats in the presence of public security forces, with no effective institutional mechanisms to protect the people’s rights and to purify the institution of these illegal and illegitimate practices.

* Friday, November 12 around 6:30 p.m., in the territory of the Lower Council of Caracolí, Curvaradó, amid military presence, dozens of cattle from the Florida hamlet entered Juan José Palacios property, who is known as “El Diablo” (The Devil) by way of the La Madre river.
Some believe that these cattle belong to an individual known as Pacho Castaño, another family member of Castaño Gil. The soldiers of Brigade 17 present at the time were devoted to observing the ranchers and did not interrogate them despite the fact that they moved cattle at this time of night.

*Friday, November 20 around 3:00 p.m. in Zunilda Polo’s Biodiversity Zone in Caño Manso, Curvaradó, César Castro arrived, according to paramilitary witnesses, with three ranchers, including one dubbed “Tenerife.” All these men are linked through their work with the Coronel ® LUIS FELIPE MOLANO.

The men asked Zunilda for her husband Carlos Antonio Hernández and told her that he was very bold with “El Patrón” (The Boss) to put cattle on his land. They added: “The boss has invested a lot of money, pouring poison so that you come and enjoy the pasture. We have returned the cattle to see if he will again remove it.

Zunilda, a member of the Lower Council expressed that the land is communal and that they were violently displaced, adding that the government will return the land to the communities. The bad-faith occupiers responded to her: “this is what you’re believing, we are the ones in charge.” After ten minutes the men joined up with armed men and left the area.

*Tuesday, November 23 at about 4:00 p.m., in Andalucía, collective territory of Curvaradó, at an area where an illegal settlement was built with several repopulators and demobilized paramilitaries, which was ordered by the palm oil companies and large-scale ranchers, the Sergeant Rojas of Army Brigade 17 invited Andalucía inhabitants to create a farmers association and a permanent school on the premises.

The following day, Enrique Petro, a member of the Lower Community Council, addressed the Sergeant and expressed the disagreement of the Andalucía Community Council with the actions that the military was promoting, which hinder the possibilities of the restitution of the community’s territory. The military Sergeant Rojas expressed that he was a lawyer and advised that he saw no impediments to his meeting with whomever he wanted.

*Thursday, November 25 around 2:30 p.m. in the territory of Caño Manso, an armed man known to protect the properties occupied in bad-faith by the Coronel ® LUIS FELIPE MOLANO, beneficiary of paramilitary activity, declared to a soldier of Brigade 17 that he had received complaints for using weapons, but he did so because he has enemies in the Humanitarian Zone.

*Saturday, November 27 at 6:00 a.m. inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zone Caño Manso, Curvaradó found a threatening manuscript against the leader, Ledys Tuirán, better known as “Morocha” (Brunette).

The threat written on a sheet of letter paper, with computer text, read: “this is for you Morocha, so that you vacate the area”. The note was hung in the entrance gate of the humanitarian zone tied with rope.
When the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zone noted the threat, they advised Lieutenant Púlido, a commander from the Brigade 17, to read the note, since the Brigade is present to protect the area. The Lower Community Council members asked him about how this threatening act could occur amidst the presence of the army brigade.

The Lieutenant expressed that in the future the brigade could accompany Ledys when she leaves the zone, without explaining why his brigade had not noticed who posted the threat while they were on guard.

Ledys is the main witness who has testified on the assassination of their community leader, Walberto Hoyos. Hoyos was assassinated in October of 2008. This threat came three days after the visit of the Commission of the National Government, with the participation of the Ombudsman and the Attorney General, to monitor regional compliance to the Constitutional Court Order 448 of May 18, 2009. At that meeting, Ledys denounced the paramilitary operations in the territory taken from the communities.

As you may recall, this collective territory has been protected from its ancestral inhabitants with violence and fraudulent means and pressures by its bad-faith occupier Coronel ® LUIS FELIPE MOLANO.

*Tuesday, November 30 at about 11:00 a.m. our Commission of Justice and Peace, learned about a group of photographs and sketches elaborately prepared by the Technical Investigations Corps of Antioquia (criminal forensic investigators). These photos are part of a judicial process, in which the body of research shows that “these subjects belong to different structures of the (guerrilla) Front 57; some are leadership of the front, others are middle command or privates and they also have militia and collaborators.”

This group of photos and sketches includes some publicly known guerrillas, some people our Commission of Justice and Peace is not familiar with, and also included members of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó.

In this report, false association with the FARC is placed on leaders of the Lower Councils: Ligia Chaverra, former legal representative of the Upper Council of Curvaradó and member of the Lower Council of Camelias, and Manuel Denis Blandón, legal representative of the Upper Council of Jiguamiandó. Both community leaders have made public denunciations of the oil palm and cattle ranchers in regards to Process #3856.

Also falsely claimed to be members of the FARC are Martha Cecilia Vargas a small-scale farmer of Bella Flor Remacho, spokeswoman for the governing Upper Council of Jiguamiandó, and the inhabitants Wilson Mena Romana, Himber Aurelio Barrios Puentes –unjustly detained in the Modelo Prison in Bogotá-, Jaime Romaña Palomeque, Alejandro Martínez Piedrahita, Francisco Mena Murillo, Jerónimo Vergara Vergara, Nelsón de Jesus Gómez Manco –unjustly detained in the prison El Reposo in Apartadó-, Ovidio González Cabrera, Juan Bautista Díaz Agamez –deceased-, Jhon Jaime Romana Denis, Roberto Antonio Delgado Murillo, Willington Cuesta Córdoba, among others.

Around 3:00 p.m., our Commission of Justice and Peace learned that a prosecutor in Medellín, in the judicial process regarding the assassination of Manuel Moya, Graciano Blandon and his son, said on October 22nd, in conjunction with the evidence, that: “there are elements of the case that the Attorney General will not discover (…) since there are more members and more people that want to link their status to people absent. They will only discover the elements included in the accusation.”

Our Historical Documentation of these recent events that continue to reflect the consolidation of a state of affairs that has been shaped and renewed since October of 1996. And our Historical Documentation of the national government’s inaction to take effective structural measures to eradicate the paramilitary logics and operations entrenched in local and regional institutions.

Our Ethical Censure of the death threats to the community leader Ledys Tuirán and the intimidations of Zunilda Polo, and Brigade 17’s actions hindering rights, that have been immediately known by Enrique Petro and the inhabitants of the Lower Councils of Andalucía Caño Claro, Caracolí and Caño Manso.

Our Ethical Censure of the permanent subjugation of the victims to the abuses, threats and intimidations of the bad-faith occupiers, consented to or developed behind paramilitary operations and/or army Brigade 17, that protects this corporate crime. These victims live in constant fear of a revived armed conflict, with confrontations between the guerrilla FARC and the military, and of smear campaigns and false judicial accusations against themselves.

Our Ethical Censure of the evidence which at all costs, without accurate arguments, without factual truths and without legal evidence is used by the same criminal structures -responsible for the past violent displacement and current bad-faith occupation- in the investigation to deflect state-led investigations of crimes against humanity, and to conceal the perpetrators and beneficiaries of paramilitary activity with false allegations and evidence against the victims and their accompaniers.

They spare no effort to make accusations without proof, with rhetorical tricks and judicial verbiage in order to prove their false accusations against the members of the Community Councils that inhabit the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones, and the members of our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace. They pay false witnesses, pressuring them and others to act against what is right and make criminal accusations. Accusing people of crimes for which they are not responsible, of punishable acts, which were not committed by the civilian population.

For this reason, an international humanitarian organization gave us information that they learned of the existence of between 15 to 20 arrest warrants against members of the communities of Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó and expressed concern regarding decisions made against community members’ rights and that consequences of these decisions extend to individuals referenced in judicial process, such as the Priest Armando Valencia, and Abilio Peña and Danilo Rueda members of our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace.

The absence of sound judicial discretion in the criminal proceedings being carried out against members of the Lower Councils of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones, in which they are accused of being rebels, participants in collusion to commit criminal offenses, and responsible for displacements and other crimes.

This false understanding conceived by the military, police and businesses suggests that the deprivation of freedom is a reality for some civilian settlers, who have been mistakenly framed as part of the FARC EP.

The absence of accurate technical evidence and the comparison of sources in the judicial processes is extremely worrisome, when the prosecutors in this process continually question the false witnesses and demobilized paramilitaries about the relationship between the guerrilla and the NGO that accompanies the communities (Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace) and their answers continually, clearly indicate that there is no relationship between the two.

But the prosecutors continually prevent the testifiers from identifying with factual and legal certainty, those who are and are not members of the guerrilla.

Since October of 2008, telephone communications between the General ® RITO ALEJO DEL RÍO and former minister Fernando Londoño Hoyos have been made public. These communications lay out plans of smear campaigns and judicial frame-ups. Since the publication of this information, nothing has happened, except for the planned discrediting and prosecution of the victims of these campaigns.

Its been known since mid-2010 that financial incentives are given to false witnesses that falsely testify against inhabitants of the Humanitarian and Biodiversity Zones, and our Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace. And instead of indentifying the criminal structures, civilians are investigated and the weight of the judicial decisions falls on them.

In conformity with article 23 of the National Constitution we respectfully request, taking into account the factual events described above and in accordance with your Constitutional and legal responsibilities, that you respond to the following questions:

1. Can you specify the circumstances of the manner, the time, and the place in which members of the Commission of Justice and Peace and Father JAVIER GIRALDO S.J. pressured, intimidated, threatened, and indicated by name and with the awareness of the FARC, inhabitants of the territory of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?

2. Is there a public declaration that the guerrillas who carried out the crime against MANUEL MOYA and GRACIANO BLANDON are located in a Humanitarian Zone of the Curvaradó River? Could you specify which of the Humanitarian Zones is being referred to?

3. According to the public information gathered by your office, where was that despicable crime committed? Which way did the FARC EP guerrillas go?

4. What is the reason why accusations continue to be made with bad intentions that the inhabitants of the Humanitarian Zones, in particular its leaders, are responsible for this crime?

5. Can you state precisely what your office understands by the terms Humanitarian Zone and Biodiversity Zone?

6. According to that definition, can it be upheld that these initiatives have special or particular juridical guarantees based on the Constitution and the law or international treaties? Can it be argued, then, that they are trying to avoid governmental security entities?

7. Can your office certify that Mr. Jaime Beitar is a resident of the collective territory of Curvaradó, in accordance with the provisions of Law 70 of Afro-descendent Communities?

8. Can your office certify whether or not Amelia Carrillo, who served as the Ombudswoman in the Lower Atrato, was fired?

9. Does your office have proof that this Defender, Amelia Carrillo, has acted against the law, in particular with favorable operations agreed on with the FARC guerrillas?

10. Can your office certify that the Ombudswoman, Amelia Carrillo, has had at any time any kind of work relationship with the Commission of Justice and Peace?

11. Can your office certify that Ligia María Chaverra, Manuel Denis Blandón, Father Javier Giraldo S.J., Alberto Franco SCRS, Abilio Peña and Danilo Rueda are the intellectual authors of the triple crime against Graciano Blandón, his son and Manuel Moya Lara?

12. Has your office identified the last name of the person who is known by the name of María Fernanda? Do you know the career of this person? What is her professional activity?

13. Can your office report the number, date, and names of the seven soldiers who died in Curvaradó?

14. Will you report whether in the police manuals there exists a provision for planning and carrying out attacks against civilians, in this case against one or two human rights defenders, in revenge for the losses in armed actions of regular soldiers of the Public Security Forces?

15. If that’s not how it is, what effective and immediate action are you going to implement to identify those responsible for planning this attack?

16. What are the concrete results of the purging of the Seventeenth Brigade and of the Urabá Police of paramilitary strategies and structures? Who has been administratively suspended or withdrawn?
17. In the manuals of military operation of the Seventeenth Brigade, is it contemplated that there be fraternal conversation with armed civilians and is the use of arms legitimized as long as the ones using them indicate that they have an enemy, in this case the residents of the Humanitarian Zone? If this is not the case, what will be done with the military soldiers who live together and converse amicably with armed civilians from the bad-faith occupiers of the collective property?

18. Within the manuals of military discipline, is there authorization that, besides their duties as strictly regular soldiers, they may promote or provide legal counsel to persons who are acting in an arbitrary manner on lands that do not belong to them? What is the legal foundation for such action?

19. What are the specific, concrete operational results in Curvaradó of combat against paramilitary groups and structures?

20. Can you specify in the framework of the policy of “democratic prosperity,” what are the indicators of effectiveness in protecting human rights, insofar as there is reference to the dismantling of paramilitarism, and the deconstruction and ending of the entanglement of paramilitarism with the public security forces.

21. What are the specific guarantees for the protection of the agricultural and environmental proposals that will be presented for an eventual restoration of the collective properties to the members of the lower community councils of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó?
Hoping that all the means will be adopted that are necessary for the protection of life and personal integrity of all the residents of the Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones in conformity with the resolutions of the Inter-American System of Human Rights, and that a full and transparent restoration of the collective territories will be made possible, as well as the restoration of the very ecosystems of the forest reserve of these territories. We await your concrete responses for the good of these communities.

With profound worry,

Interchurch Commission of Justice and Peace