In recent days, Colombia and the whole world have been scandalised by the levels of corruption detected in the Colombian armed forces. Intelligence centres camouflaged behind restaurants, and who knows what other establishments, violate the Constitution, the law and International Treaties, walking all over the intimacy and the most sacred rights of citizens, and carry out perverse spying activities seeking to control, attack and destroy those who think or act in ways that are different to their criminal and excluding social projects. All this occurs daily in San José de Apartadó, where the armed forces has for over 17 years been seeking to destroy a Community which has ethical values which they want to destroy.
Many of our friends and communities who stand in solidarity with us have asked us if the “forgiveness” asked of our Peace Community by President Juan Manuel Santos last 10th December, for the slander made years before by his predecessor as head of state, sanctioned for their criminal character by the Constitutional court, have had o could have an effect of providing guarantees of non repetition. Sadly, President Santos did not fulfil the second part of the order given by the Court, that is, the presentation “of a procedure to avoid future slander against the Community, as well as the establishment of a single channel of communication which reduces the risks of slander and enables the reconstruction of trust”. This omission – and we do not pretend to judge whether it is intentional or not – has in practice invalidated the effects of the presidential request for “forgiveness”, because other state agents, especially a direct subordinate of the President, the Commander of the Seventeenth Brigade of the Army, has followed ex President Uribe’s criminal role, thus integrating himself into the systematic crime of PERSECUTION and SLANDER against our Community, already expressed in several thousands of crimes against humanity and war crimes currently in international tribunals.
Yet again our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó finds itself having to document before the country and the world new facts which violate our dignity and our fundamental rights, and continue revealing the profiles of a state which uses absolutely illegitimate and perverse means to express the injustice and violence which structure it.
The actions of violence do not stop; they are the bread of each day. Yet again, our Peace Community documents new horrendous occurrences before humanity and history:
On Sunday 12th January 2014 towards 3:00pm a group of 23 paramilitaries entered and remained in the rural area of Bellavista, part of the San José de Apartadó township. The group of paramilitaries, including whom the well-known paramilitaries Albeiro and Lubin Cardona, threatened several civilians, and telling them that they must not speak out about this, or they could not answer for what would happen to them in the future. After breaking and entering several campesinos’ houses, they went and hid in the mountain. This paramilitary presence occurs in the middle of a strong military presence in that area, which clearly indicates the complicity of the armed forces with paramilitarism.
The apparent calm over Christmas faded too quickly for our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. The State institutions have been violating our privacy; the armed actors continue to be make their presence known in our territory, firing their guns and sowing terror, converting yet again our spaces of peace into combat zones. Military and paramilitaries return to the period in which their criminality was strongest in their unity of action, no longer just to announce massacres and aggressions but re-establishing their illegal checkpoints on the road, and seeking our leaders to disappear and exterminate them. All this in a context of absolute lack of protection, in which the State refuses to control its direct and direct agents in their criminal practices. For this reason, yet again we hereby make known to the country and to the world, the latest aggressions:
"...several State institutions were in contact with the paramilitaries and allowed themselves to be escorted by these same criminals to the place where the children were detained, without any capture of any members of the criminal group..."
Yet again, our Peace Community raises a clamour of urgency before the country and the world, for new aggressions that have affected us:
On 10th December, in the context of a ceremony in the presidential Nariño Palace to mark the launch of the Proposal for an Integral Human Rights Policy, the President of the Republic Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, asked our Peace Community for forgiveness, in the following manner:
"Some years ago, the highest authority of the nation made unjust accusations about the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. The Constitutional Court ordered the State, headed by the President himself, to retract these accusations. Today, in this stage of human rights, before the country, and before the world, carry out this retraction. And I do so with my firm conviction as a democrat, with all the sense of what this retraction means in terms of moral justice for a community that has worked towards a present and a future of peace. We as a State retract ourselves, and as a State we manifest the absolute and unwavering commitment to the respect and protection of human rights, as well as our compliance with the judicial bodies which uphold those rights. I recognise in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó a brave demand for the rights of the Colombian people, which despite having suffered the conflict in flesh and blood has persisted in its purpose to achieve peace for the country. We do not agree with phrases or attitudes of stigmatisation of those who seek peace and reject violence; on the contrary, we consider that all defenders of peace and human rights defenders must be praised and protected. FOR THESE REASONS, WE ASK FOR FORGIVENESS. I ASK FOR FORGIVENESS.
“… for not accepting that they should kill us, that they should massacre us, displace us, rape our women and butcher our children, for demanding respect for the universal right to our life and to the life of the general population, they treat us as guerrilleros, as rats..”
We cannot stay silent before the recent impeccable operation, historic within Colombia, which was carried out just days ago by the military and the paramilitaries in the town province of San José de Apartadó. Once again, the coordinated actions between the military and the paramilitaries are made clear, in the operations that they carry out in the region, in total insolence and with a level of cooperation that goes beyond anything imaginable.
Once again, our Peace Community raises an urgent cry to beg the national and international community for the life of 6 civilians who have been disappeared by the paramilitaries.