MAC: Mines and Communities

Army Displaces Over 2300 Campesinos in Sur de Bolívar, Colombia

Published by MAC on 2006-09-25

Army Displaces Over 2300 Campesinos in Sur de Bolívar, Colombia

Press statement, Santa Rosa, Colombia

25th September 2006

We, the agromining communities of Sur de Bolívar, want to bring national and international attention and public opinion to the reasons why we have been forcibly displaced into the municipal seat of Santa Rosa:

Our communities have worked and lived in the region, living off of mining and agriculture for many generations. For ten years now, multinational mining companies have been trying to usurp our terrribory, over the years developing a strategy of assasinations, terror, plunder, etc., supported by the Colombian State and paramilitary groups.

This strategy is one of many for the total militarization of the region, generating distrust between residents, violating human rights and international humanitarian law in their desire to displace thos of us who legitimately live in the area, in order to leave these territories in the hands of multinationals.

The past Tuesday September 19, members of the Air Defense Battallion "Nueva Granada" headed by Colonal Romero cruelly assasinated our agromining leader, ALEJANDRO URIBE, making him appear as a member of armed opposition groups, in their desire to provide a "positive result" in their policy of "democratic security."

Throughout the entire region, community members report the same abusive behaviour of troops: arbitrary arrests, searches and pillage, threats, burning of houses, extrajuridical executions, participation in the operations of paramilitary and ex-guerrilla groups, who are attributed with the role of stigmatizing and terrorizing community members.

We know that the personnel of the Air Defense Battallion of Nueva Granada participated in this crime, stealing documents of the Agromining Federation of the South of Bolívar, and member associations to whom they belong, including Alejandro Uribe, where he appears in relation to the names of other members. This situation raises serious worries about the rights of life, safety and liberty of those who are mentioned in these documents.

At the roots of this situation, the mining communities have gathered en masse in the town of San Luquitas to collectively seek answers and a solution to this serious situation. On September 22, we decided to gather in the municipal seat of the town of Santa Rosa del Sur because of the persistant violations of human rights in the region, and the risks to life, security and liberty of those of us living here.

Today on September 25, the situation in Santa Rosa is as follows:

-There are approximately 1,300 miner residents concentrated in the city center.
-The communities gathered in Santa Rosa, as well as the residents of the city center have heard threats of raids against the residents by members of the Public Forces, as well as the same threat represented by the deployment of Army troops in the city center.

The communities of Sur de Bolívar demand to the National Government:

Respond to the crime committed against our leader Alejandro Uribe Chacon, carried out by the Air Defense Battalion Nueva Granada on September 19, 2006, in the town of Culebras in the municipality of Arenal and that there should therefore be truth, justice and compensation to his family and to the communities to whom Alejandro belonged.
That the President order the immediate withdrawal of Military Forces from the region, who are spreading terror in the south of Bolívar.
That the territory of Sur de Bolívar be recognized as the property of the agromining communities who have been living and working in the mines and fields for many years.
Given the context of stigmatization against the Sur de Bolívar, and the Associations and Groups of Communal Action that make up the region, that a public declaration be issued immediately recognizing the legality and legitimacy of their actions.
That the pretensions of the multinational mining firm Kedahda to gain power and control by illegal means be definatively rejected.

We ask the international and national community and international organizations of the United National for support and solidarity:

Denouncing openly these acts and urging that the Colombian authorities be held accountable for these actions and those responsible be punished.
Generating fact-finding missions and accompanying the communities of Sur de Bolívar, who are being systematically affected by these actions in the region.
That the United Nations High Commision on Refugees, the Red Cross International and the Coordinating Office of the United Nations for Humanitarian Affairs become involved, given that at this time there are more than 1300 persons subject to forced displacement, and that they intervene with utmost urgency, with the goal of giving attention to those who are still in the city of Santa Rosa (Bolívar).

Communities of the Sur de Bolívar in Forced Displacement
Comission of Communication for the Sur de Bolívar
Agromining Federation of the Sur de Bolívar CNA
Corporation Sembrar
European Network of Brotherhood and Solidarity

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