World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Colombia: Trade unionists under attack

Colombia: Trade unionists and human rights defenders under attack

The recent detention of around 42 social activists and human rights defenders in Saravena, department of Arauca, 28 of whom remain under arrest, appears to be part of an on-going coordinated campaign to undermine the work of trade unionists and human rights activists and expose these sectors to increased attack from army-backed paramilitaries, Amnesty International said today.

The arrests came only days after President Álvaro Uribe criticized several military commanders for a lack of operational results, apparently including commanders in the department of Arauca.

"Trade unionists and other human rights defenders in the department of Arauca are facing a coordinated military-paramilitary strategy to label them and their organizations as subversive, thereby exposing them to arbitrary judicial proceedings and risk of violent attack by paramilitary groups," Amnesty International warned.

Amongst those detained in the joint operation undertaken by members of the XVIII Brigade and agents of the Office of the Attorney General on 21 August 2003, were José Murillo Tobo, president of the Comité Regional de Derechos Humanos "Joel Sierra", "Joel Sierra" Regional Human Rights Committee, and Alonso Campiño Bedoya, leader of the regional branch of the CUT Trade Union Congress and member of the Regional Human Rights Committee.

The houses of Samuel Morales, president of the regional CUT, Alberto Paez, another trade union leader, and Ismael Pabón Mora, a leader of the Regional Human Rights Committee were searched during the raids. Arrest warrants against these three people were not carried out because they were not at home at the time of the raids.

The arrest of José Murillo and Alonso Campiño come after the Regional Human Rights Committee had denounced the presence of paramilitary groups operating in collusion with the security forces in Saravena. The arrests also follow a spate of accusations against the Committee made by the security forces in recent months that they were subversive collaborators.

Amnesty International has recently denounced human rights violations committed by paramilitary forces operating in Arauca in collusion with the XVIII Brigade. The Regional Human Rights Committee is one of the regional organizations which has denounced these violations at the international level.

Amnesty International has documented cases in which the security forces operating jointly with the Office of the Attorney General have arrested human rights defenders and other social activists, not on the basis of independent and impartial judicial investigations but on the basis of unfounded military accusations. According to information received, two hooded informers participated in the arrests raising concerns that evidence is based on military intelligence and information provided by paid informers.

More than 170 Colombian trade unionists murdered last year, -

Video:The hidden tragedy -

All documents on Colombia -

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news