Urgent Action Update: Paramilitary Build-Up in Peace Community (Colombia: UA 236/16)

Urgent Action
February 7, 2017
Residents in several hamlets in or near the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in north-western Colombia continue to report the presence of paramilitaries. The security of Peace Community members and other inhabitants in the area is at serious risk.
On 22 January, paramilitaries again visited the home of Reinaldo Areiza in the hamlet of La Esperanza, but he was not at home at the time. The paramilitaries told residents in La Esperanza that they would not allow “snitches” (sapos) to enter the area, that those who do not collaborate with them have to leave or die, and that they are in control of the region with the authorization of the security forces. According to witnesses, the paramilitaries held a local family captive in their home in La Esperanza for several hours and showed them a death list of individuals, which included members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.

On 23 January, witnesses claim that a paramilitary, accompanied by two others, raped a 14-year-old girl at her home in the hamlet of La Hoz, and threatened to kill her if she reported the rape. Her parents are not members of the Peace Community but one of her other relatives is. On 27 January, paramilitaries threatened Diana Guisao, who has relatives who are members of the Peace Community, at her home in Mulato Medio. They showed her a death list, which included members of the Peace Community. That same day, paramilitaries entered the Peace Community’s “peace village” (aldea de paz) in the hamlet of Mulatos, which commemorates the 2005 massacre of eight Peace Community members. They photographed local residents and announced they would kill all “snitches”. Paramilitaries again entered the “peace village” on 1 February and threatened to kill members of the Peace Community, and again on 2 February, when they held two families captive for several minutes and threatening them with death. On 28 January, five paramilitaries entered a property owned by the Peace Community in La Esperanza and held captive two Peace Community members for several minutes. On 31 January, paramilitaries frequenting the hamlets of Mulatos and Resbalosa entered the homes of several campesino (peasant farmer) families and stole clothing, chickens and other food supplies from them.

International observers are currently in the area and have witnessed the presence of paramilitaries in and around the Peace Community. Some of the paramilitaries are wearing military fatigues, are hooded and have armbands of the paramilitary Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC).

Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Expressing concern for the safety of Reinaldo Areiza, Diana Guisao, the members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and other civilians living in the area;
  • Urging them to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with the security forces, in line with stated government commitments;
  • Reminding them that civilians, including the San José de Apartadó Peace Community and other civilians living  in the area, have the right to not be drawn into the armed conflict.
Contact these two officials by 17 March, 2017:
Señor Juan Manuel Santos    
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26 Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 596 0631    
Salutation: Dear President Santos / Excmo. Sr. Presidente Santos
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