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In repudiation of the cowardly murders of the Organisers of the 6th March demonstration for justice

category international | miscellaneous | press release author Friday March 28, 2008 17:08author by GR - Grupo Raícesauthor email raices2007 at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

The latest victims of the paramilitary violence are Leonidas Gómez, from a bank employee's trade union; Carmen Cecilla Carvajal, affiliated member of ASINORT trade union; Gildardo Antonio Gómez, affiliated member of ADIDA; Carlos Burbano, affiliated member of the trade union of hospital workers.

1. At this present time, we would like to express our repudiation and our most forceful protest toward the cowardly and vile assassinations of four of the trade unionists who participated in the organisation of the huge manifestation on the 6th March of tribute to the victims of the Colombian armed social conflict and the denunciation of the terrorism of the state and that of the paramilitaries. At the same time we send our most sincere condolences to the families of those assassinated in these difficult times. We share in your pain.

2. The latest victims of the paramilitary violence are Leonidas Gómez, from a bank employee's trade union; Carmen Cecilla Carvajal, affiliated member of ASINORT trade union; Gildardo Antonio Gómez, affiliated member of ADIDA; Carlos Burbano, affiliated member of the trade union of hospital workers. Our duty id to forever remember the names of those who with their lives have given us a lesson in courage and commitment to human rights.

3. We equally denounce the atmosphere of threats and intimidation that have surrounded the aforementioned march. They have not only been individual threats either, that translated themselves into criminal acts like the fire-arms attack on the organiser of the march in Pereira on the 29th February, Luz Adriana González, who miraculously escaped unhurt or like the attempted assault on Rafael Boada, of a bank employee's trade union, who escaped unhurt as well in a fire-arms attack undertaken by individuals on a motorcycle. We know also of collective threats, like those inflicted upon the indigenous village of the Awá's of Narino or the residents of barrio 8th of March in Medellin who were pursued relentlessly by paramilitaries to dissuade them from participating in the manifestation. These are only some examples of the terror that goes in while living in Colombia by the paramilitary groups who frequently act with the full complicity of the authorities.

4. These crimes and threats don't constitute isolated incidents. They very much follow the established practice of terrorism coming from the sectors who wield the economic and political power in Colombia who have come to hold systematic sway over the country for over five decades. These practices seek to paralyse those involved in the fight for social justice and physically eliminate any form of opposition.

5. We would like to make it clear that the ultimate responsibility for these deaths and threats lies with the government of Alvaro Uribe Vélez who has been-to say the least- very much tolerant of paramilitarism, and also his presidential advisor, José Obdulio Gaviria, who deliberately affirmed that the march was organised by a group of insurgents, giving in effect, carte blanche to paramilitaries to act against the march organisers.

6. This fact demonstrates that paramilitarism has not been demobilised and continues to represent a threat to the physical integrity of the popular sectors of Colombian society. Indeed, it represents today a even greater threat, though rarely recognised-these deaths point to the wholesale failure of the so-called "Law of Justice and Peace".

7. This fact also demonstrates the limits of Colombian democracy and the grave risks that govern the lives of those who, with much courage, exercise their right to freedom of expression and dare to question the politics of the government. These deaths represent a decisive blow to the supposed virtues of "Democratic Security". Security! For who? For the thousands of people assassinated, disappeared and displaced by the paramilitaries? For the trade unionists and the peasant farmers? For those called 'False Positives'? Democracy? For who? For the opposition? For the victims of State crimes and paramilitarism?

8. If the Uribe government has had such success in the fight against terrorism, how does he want to make the world believe it? Why have the massacres not stopped against the trade unionists, the human rights defenders, the peasant farmers and the social leaders? If, as they say, they have been able to contain the insurgent groups, then why do they show themselves impotent to stop the crimes of the paramilitaries? Would we be right in supposing tolerance or connivance with them?

9. Lastly, we want to mention that we will stay ready and alert to mobilise our solidarity with those who have been victims of threats that have yet to materialise. At the same time we summon the Colombian authorities to carry out their commitment to protect all citizens, not just those who converge with their ideas.




Grupo Raices (Roots Group) - Colombians, Irish and Latin American residents in Ireland. Dublin 15th March 2008

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