On 8 September at least 80 human rights defenders throughout Colombia received an email in which they were told “we are going to finish you off one by one” (los vamos a acabar uno a uno) and “we know where each one of you and your families are, prepare to die” (sabemos donde [sic] estan [sic] cada uno de Ustedes y sus familias preparense [sic] para morir). On 9 September, Colombia’s Human Rights Day, two further emails threatening dozens of human rights defenders were sent, signed by the paramilitary group Black Eagles Capital Bloc (Águilas Negras Bloque Capital). In one of these threats, the defenders were given an ultimatum to stop their work within 15 days and told: “stop bothering with your fake politics, stop fucking about with your story of human rights defenders” (no jodan más con sus políticas chimbas, dejen de mariquiar [sic] con su cuento de defensores de derechos humanos). The other threat sent on 9 September included “invitations to the funeral” of three Afro-descendant human rights defenders, which would take place on 18 September. In all three death threats the human rights defenders were accused of being guerrilla fighters.
Those threatened include a wide spectrum of well-known human rights defenders, trade unionists, staff working for parliamentarians who have campaigned on human rights issues, and community leaders. They also included representatives of victims of human rights abuses who have travelled to Havana, Cuba, where the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) are negotiating a peace agreement. According to newspaper reports, thirty members of staff at the Office of the High Counsellor for Human Rights at the Bogotá Mayor’s Office (Alta Consejeria para las Víctimas de la Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá) also received a separate threat “inviting them to their own funeral”, also on 18 September.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Expressing concern for the safety of those threatened and urging the authorities to immediately provide effective protection for them in accordance with their wishes and needs;
- Calling on the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into the death threats, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- Reminding them to fulfil their obligation to protect human rights defenders, as set out in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
- Urging the authorities to take action against paramilitary forces and break any links between them and the security forces, in line with repeated UN recommendations.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 23 OCTOBER 2014 TO: (Time difference = GMT - 5 hrs / BST - 6 hrs)