RESPECT HUMAN DIGNITY AND
FULFILL THE ACCORDS MADE DURING THE 7 YEARS OF YOUR GOVERNMENT
“We must engage in dialogue….whilst respecting the dignity of all.
This is what we did in Colombia” Juan Manuel Santos
Colombia, 01 November 2017
President JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERON,
In the name of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the concurrent international pacts and conventions, the internal norms that govern the rights of indigenous, black and campesino peoples of Colombia and with respect of the Colombian National Constitution, which protects our right to life, we, the human rights organizations and social movements, whose names appear below, solicit you, as the maximum leader of the Armed Forces of Colombia, to halt orders given to the riot squads, ie the Mobile Anti-Disturbance Squadron (Escuadrón Móvil Anti Disturbios) ESMAD, to continue violent and abusive attacks against comunities who at present find themselves in the National Solidarity Mobilisations or National Minga (Minga Nacional).
The Minga is a legitimate mobilisation which demands the promised implementation of the Peace Accords signed by your government during its first term of office (2010-2014) and accepted by referendum during your second term of office (2014-2018).
On the 30th October 2017, just a few hours after the official beginning of the National Minga, there were already 6 wounded indigenous communards, hurt via tear-gas hurled by the ESMAD.
One of them was injured seriously as a result: JOSE MIGUEL DURA VARQUEÑO, a teacher in the indigenous community of Joaquincito en el Naya1, whose injured left eye had to be removed as a consequence, according to the medical report from the Universitario del Valle Hospital.
Equally, JOSE ANTONIO PARDO, was illegally detained by uniformed individuals and taken away by other officers in civilian clothes – probably from the Criminal Investigatory Section of the Police – SIJIN (Seccional de Investigación Criminal). They obliged him to get into a taxi which headed via the Delfina route in the direction of Buenaventura. His wherabouts were not known until 20 hours later, despite having called high-ranking police all afternoon and all evening on the 30th October 2017. He was, in fact, disappeared for all that time, which is not in accord with legal requirements.
Astonishingly, and in addition, there is also important evidence that the public armed forces continues to utilize fire-arms in order to repress and disperse public demonstrations. These excessive, violent and abusive actions by the ESMAD and SIJIN have also been followed by particular accusations from General Salamanca, today, which place, the ethnic territorial communities participating in the Minga Nacional, under threats to their lives and their psychological and cultural integrity.
During 2017, actions by the ESMAD armed forces and the police under its command, have left more than 1900 injured individuals during civilian, oil and mining strikes in the Chocó, Buenaventura, Segovia y Meta, the campesino protests of Catatumbo y Tumaco and the mobilizations in the National Mingas – amongst others. All these are participatory public actions which have been summoned by the communities, peoples and social sectors, who have found it necessary to remind you to ensure the genuine keeping of the accords. Accords which are meant to solve, in the main, the social problems which affect these populations in matters of territory, health, education, water and basic infrastructure.2
In Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, alone, 716 people were wounded in the middle of the civic protests realized between the 16 May and the 6 of June 2017. These facts were denied by yourself despite the official documents from the Defensoria del Pueblo, ICBF and international human rights organizations. You attempted to hide these facts but they are now subject to investigation and your government has been solicited to respond. The question, which is being asked right throughout our national territory and which you, Mr President, have not answered is: Who has ordered the ESMAD to systematically attack these most vulnerable communities of Colombia, who have found it necessary to publically protest against injustices they are suffering?
We need to remind you, President Santos, of your words, during your acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize: “We must engage in dialogue….whilst respecting the dignity of all. This is what we did in Colombia”. We urge you to apply your words. It is not enough to negotiate and sign accords with communities – it is urgent to honour them in practice.
How is it possible that, whilst you, Mr President, can say to the the international community: “Ladies & Gentlemen, we have one less war in the world – that of Colombia!”, between January and October 2017: 116 human rights leaders and defenders have been assassinated, more than 500 have been illegally detained, and 50 of those are still deprived of their liberty?
In this “one less war” which you declare, there are evident, organized, systematic crimes being commited against human rights defenders. To be a human rights defender, environmentalist, social leader in these times of “post-conflict” – according to your governments terminology – is actually a high risk occupation.
We are seriously concerned that, whilst events such as the recent massacre in Tumaco, the genocide of young people in Villa Rica, the death of children in the Guajira region due to hunger and thirst and the humanitarian and infrastructure crisis in Buenaventura occur, you carry on with the expansion of trade treaties, the Pacific Alliance and the great mining megaprojects which compromise 70% of the national territory, this according to the maps of the National Mining Agency (Agencia Nacional de Mineria).
Whilst communities demand answers, via legitimate public protest, you order indiscriminate, systematic violent attacks against them, by the ESMAD. These Post-conflict Forces are claiming lives and compromising the future of hundreds of people who are injured for life.
Mr President, the accords signed with the communities must be honoured immediately, the response of a notable Nobel Peace Price Winner should not just be to carry on with the abusive, excessive and repressive actions of the ESMAD – or Post-conflict Forces, as you have elatedly named them.
We respectfully ask you to answer the following: Who has given the orders for the ESMAD to ferociously attack social protests in the whole country? Why is the right to life, dignity, free expression and participation sistematically violated? What do you, in effect, understand by systemic crimes against human rights defenders? Why do you stubbornly carry on speaking about “post-conflict”, whilst vital accords to water rights, education and health are not kept?
Mr President, the reality of violence being experienced across this country requires urgent actions by your government in the implementation of the accords with the FARC and the Quito round table discussions (Mesa de Quito) with the ELN, to avert another failure of a peace process in Colombia. Heading towards “post-conflict” implies attending to the acute social problems experienced by the Colombian population, which has been historically excluded.
We understand the complexity being lived in this country, we know the challenge we face in order to achieve real guarantees of non-repetition. But it is not via ESMAD violence, that the long history of social inequality will be solved. The answers lie in the documents which comprise the accords, developed by citizen participation and consultation with your government. Accords which have been achieved through public protests and which ratify the importance of participation by communities as a fundamental right, and which, therefore, must be guaranteed and respected by all the authorities. Public rights and freedoms are written into our Constitution, international treaties and ratified by presidential directives, many of them signed during the two periods of your government.
President Santos, the political Constitution of Colombia is the way to peace if the Colombian state respects it and puts it into practice. That is why we express to you clearly and respectfully that you respond rapidly to dialogue with the great National Minga, without the use of the repressive and violent ESMAD forces. The sectors, with which you have signed general and partial accords, over the last 7 years of government, require answers in order to overcome the unconstitutional issues which are occurrying and being lived in this conuntry. Transformational peace is achieved via active and dynamic participation of our society,
We therefore demand guarantees for the right to excercise participation and respect for our ethnic territorial rights. In light of all the above, it is urgent, Mr President, that, with you at the helm, an answer be found for the genuine honouring and accomplishement of the signed accords signed by the Agrarian Summit (Cumbre Agraria), the National Minga and the civilian, mining strikes and mobilisations, which have all resulted in regional and national accords, but which are, in their entirety, not honoured or implemented, up to this day.
We look forward to your prompt reply and we request that you directly attend the requests of the National Minga, who today demand your presence.
UNIVERSIDAD INTERCULTURAL DE LOS PUEBLOS
ASOCIACION PARA LA INVESTIGACIÓN Y ACCION SOCIAL NOMADESC
MOVICE – CAPITULO VALLE
MUJERES CORTERAS DE CAÑA
MUJERES DE TRIANA
ASOCIACIÓN DE PRODUCTORES ORGÁNICOS DE SAN LORENZO
CONGRESO DE LOS PUEBLOS VALLE
FUNDACIÓN INTERCULTURAL BARULE DE BUGA Y TULUÁ
COORDINADOR NACIONAL AGRARIO CNA
ASOCACION DE AFRODESCENDIENTES NELSON MANDELA
JUNTA DE ACCIÓN COMUNAL BARRIÓ ISLA DE LA PAZ BUENAVENTURA
ASOCIACIÓN DE CABILDOS INDÍGENAS DEL VALLE DEL CAUCA – ACIVA RP
ORGANIZACIÓN REGIONAL INDÍGENA DEL VALLE DEL CAUCA – ORIVAC
OBSERVATORIO DE EXPANSIÓN MINERO ENERGETICA Y RE-EXISTENCIA
FUNDACÍON GUAGUA – GALERIA DE LA MEMORIA TIBERIO FERNANDEZ MAFLA
MATILDE ESTER MAESTRE RIVERA
1 The Joaquinto resguardo was created after the Naya massacre in April 2001, one of the cruellest, most inhumane and degrading of our recent history. A paramilitary group supported by air, land and water carried out the most repungnant violent crimes the world has ever known, in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca regions.
2 “ Protests put the democratic condition of States and their level of openness and tolerance to plurality, dissent, demands to the test, and also tests their level of commitment to human rights protection in order to prevent and avoid the use of violent and abusive public force against citizens in their performance of protest and also the treatment of the protesters” CIDH