Two small scale miners murdered in Colombia
NGOs denounce government for failing to act
A rollcall of Colombian social and environmental organisations has condemned a "long string of acts of agression" aimed at smallscale gold miners in south Bolivar.
Earlier this month two miners were found dead, following what appeared to be a kidnapping and torture.
The NGOs attribute prime responsibility for such acts to the Colombian government which, it says, refuses "to dialogue with the communities ... and, on the contrary, has continued to militarize the region and openly permit the actions of paramilitary groups".
Continued extermination of members of Fedeagromisbol
FEDEAGROMISBOL Press Statement
13 February 2010
FEDEAGROMISBOL is the Federacion de Agromineros del Sur de Bolivar (Federation of Smallscale Miners of the South of Bolivar)
Two artisanal miners have been assassinated in the south of Bolivar.
We, the organizations below, reject and denounce to public opinion the following facts:
1. On the 10th February 2010 towards 7 in the morning the brothers OMAR ALONSO RESTREPO OSPINA and JOSE DE JESUS RESTREPO, 26 and 40 years old respectively, both artisanal (smallscale) miners and members of FEDEAGROMISBOL, and OMAR ALONSO also president of the Community Action Committee in the hamlet of Dorado, left Montecristo municipality in the direction of Caucasia Antioquia, in order to buy parts for their vehicle. They arrived at Nechi at about 10a.m. that same day and continued their journey to Caucasia.
2. According to the locals the brothers were accosted by a group of armed men about 20 minutes from Nechi municipality and taken to an unknown place. Some versions of the events held the paramilitaries that operate in the area responsible.
3. Some people from Dorado went to the municipality of Nechi to find out the whereabouts of the Restrepo brothers and the police informed them that they knew of a place where there were two bodies, a place known as Parcela de Londres. However this place was too large to find them.
4. Yesterday, 12th February, during the night, the dead body of OMAR ALONSO RESTREPO OSPINA was found in the Cauca River in the municipality of Achi, and today in the early morning, the dead body of JOSE DE JESUS RESTREPO RESTREPO was found in the Cauca River, in the municipality of Guaranda. Both bodies were found with visible signs of torture.
5. These assassinations are part of a long string of acts of aggression against the people of the south of Bolivar, such as the assassination of ALEJANDRO URIBE CHACON on the 19th September 2006 and others which we consider to be actions which are part of a strategy to force us to leave our territories, as part of a larger more macabre alliance between the national government and the gold mining multinationals such as ANGLO GOLD ASHANTI and palm companies such as Grupo Dabon who are trying to take control of the natural resources in the south of Bolivar.
6. We hold the Colombian state responsible for these occurrences. The state has refused to continue dialogue with the communities in the south of Bolivar in the form of the Forum for Dialogue and, on the contrary, has continued to militarize the region and openly permit the actions of paramilitary groups.
We condemn outright these assassinations and all actions which try to force the people of the south of Bolivar from their land.
We are calling out to all sister organizations to denounce this to the authorities, demanding firm responses to, and investigations of, the assassinations, and an immediate end to the aggression against the people of this region.
We also ask that the relevant departments of state do everything in their power to clear up the questions around these crimes and punish those responsible.
FEDERACION AGROMINERA DEL SUR DE BOLIVAR
COMISION DE INTERLOCUCION SUR DE BOLIVAR
MOVICE - CAPITULO SUR DE BOLIVAR - SUR DEL CESAR
REDHER - COLOMBIA
ORGANIZACIÓN FEMENINA POPULAR
COORDINADOR NACIONAL AGRARIO-CNA
ORGANIZACIÓN INDIGENA DE COLOMBIA - ONIC
RED FRENTE A LA GRAN MINERIA
CORPORACION AURY SARA MARRUGO
INSTITUTO NACIONAL SINDICAL - INS
CAMPAÑA PROHIBIDO OLVIDAR
COMISION INTERCLESIAL DE JUSTICIA Y PAZ
CENSAT- AGUA VIVA
CORPORACION COLECTIVO DE ABOGADOS LUIS CARLOS PEREZ
OBSERVATORIO DE TRANSNACIONALES
OBSERVATORIO SOCIAL Y AMBIENTAL
(English translation by Maggie Scrimgeour, of Colombia Solidarity Campaign, UK)