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Urgent Action: Stop Bombing and Strafing in Choco

Nizkor Int. Human Rights Team - Derechos Human Rights - Serpaj Europe
Urgent Solidarity - 08May02


Ref:  Vigia del Fuerte and Bellavista. Request for suspension of
military operations. Urges support for humanitarian crisis.

- Today, Tuesday the 7th of May, at 14:00 hours there was knowledge of a
flyover by a plane “Mirage”, which dropped nine (9) bombs on the area of
Napipi, Bojaya, in the Choco Department.

- Since Monday the 6th of May, at 14:00 hours the IV Army Brigade
prohibited national and international news journalists from entering the
zone of the recent events.  According to the journalists, the FARC-EP
would have communicated them to enter the zone in order to verify what
is happening.

- The 6th of May, at 18:00 hours in Quibdo, the Life, Justice and Peace
Commission, the Diocese of Quibdo, gave information to National and
International Human Rights Organizations about the grave situations of
insecurity in which the residents of Bellavista, Vigia del Fuerte,
Napipi and Murindo live, owing to the military offense with aerial

- The indiscriminate aerial actions produced yesterday irreparable
damages in the afrocolombian communities, which were forcibly
displaced.  In the case of Napipi, two afrocolombians were wounded, and
the young MARIA UBERTINA MENA (21 years old) was killed, as a result of
the aerial operations that have been carried out since past Saturday. In
accordance with the reports the number of victims could be higher, as
the official aerial attacks are indiscriminate against around 3000
inhabitants of this zone.

- At the same time, it is feared that the air and river operations will
extend their radius of action in the following days with the same
methods and mechanisms over the basin towns of the rivers Jiguamiando,
Truando, Salaqui and Cacarica, as in some of these towns has been heard
flyovers in the early morning hours since past Saturday.

- In Bellavista and Vigia del Fuerte, state humanitarian response has
not arrived, in spite of official announcements expressed via news media
indicating that there had, in fact, already been a response.  Until the
present, humanitarian aid of blankets, medicine and food has been
carried out by the Colombian Red Cross and the Diocese of Quibdo.

- The past Saturday, May 5th of 2002, the Life, Justice and Peace
Commission, of the Diocese of Quibdo, communicated that in Vigia del
Fuerte state military actions were being carried out that impeded
humanitarian proceedings and search actions for those possibly
assassinated and disappeared.  Owing to intervention by the Air Force
and the Navy, more victims from the civilian population have been
predicted.  This call and request was not looked into by the Colombian

- Since Sunday the 21st of April, the Diocese of Quibdo, and other
entities of the catholic church and human rights organizations, gave
reports of the military incursion inside of the paramilitary strategy at
Vigia del Fuerte, after crossing over the Atrato river, in particular
through the municipality of Riosucio, where military units developed a
strict control over the circulation of goods and of fluvial transport
since the 20th of December of 1996.

- Since that Sunday in April until Wednesday, May 1st, paramilitaries
extended their proceedings to Bellavista, with threats and intimidation,
at the behest of a commander nicknamed “Camilo”.  In spite of the
repeatedly reiterated reports turned into government and state entities
there was no reaction from the Public Forces against the behavior of
this group of close to 200 camouflaged and heavily armed men.

- Wednesday, May 1st, battles developed that made possible military
monopolization by FARC-EP in Vigia del Fuerte, while confrontations
worsened in Bellavista.

- Thursday, May 2nd, between 8:00 and 10:00 hours local time there was
maintained a confrontation between FARC-EP and paramilitaries.  Out of
that, at 10:15 local time came the explosion of a cylinder that affected
the chapel-temple-where the town hid in refuge, provoking more than a
hundred civilian casualties and dozens of injured.

- In spite of the request and the call by the Church Diocese to cease
aerial and fluvial operations, and of the requests in the same vein
raised to the national government by the international community, there
continue to be military deployments and military proceedings, which not
only create fear in the afrocolombian population and impede humanitarian
aid but which are resulting in serious and systematic human rights
violations, and grave breaches of international humanitarian law on the
part of the State in the intent of confronting the FARC-EP with illicit
methods and objectives of war.

We ask of national and international human rights organizations, of
humanitarian agencies, of solidarity groups, to exhort the Colombian
State headed by the President of the Republic ANDRES PASTRANA ARANGO,
Supreme Chief of Military Forces, to:

1. Suspend aerial, fluvial and terrestrial military operations that are
taking place in the mid and lower Atrato that are going on with his

2. Temporarily declare a bilateral suspension of armed hostilities and a
cease-fire in order to allow for humanitarian aid by the catholic church
and human rights groups on behalf of the civilian population

3. To immediately give a response to the humanitarian crisis as provided
for under Article 17 of Protocol II,  Additional to the Geneva
Conventions of 12 August 1949, Law 387 in respect to food, health and
housing owed to the affected population via the Network of Social
Solidarity, and to expediate with urgency a Humanitarian Order-in
respect to institutional response of civilian character.

4. To authorize entrance to both national and international news media
into the zone in order to collect testimonies and reports of what is
going on

To the humanitarian agencies, solidarity groups and churches to support
a humanitarian aid in coordination with the Life, Justice and Peace
Commission of the Diocese of Quibdo, in respect to humanitarian support
required via medical and technical support, and of emergency goods to
attend to the affected population.

Life, Justice and Peace Commission, Diocese of Quibdo
Intercongregational Commission of Justice and Peace Colombia, 
May 7th, 2002
[Translated into English from its original Spanish version by Equipo
Nizkor on 08May02. Original Spanish version disseminated on 07May02]


Presidente de la Republica,
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Vicepresidente de la Republica
Consejeria Presidencial de Derechos Humanos
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Director General Policia Nacional
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Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
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Fax: +57-1-285.7091

Comandante de las Fuerzas Militares
Avenida el Dorado con Carrera 52
Santa Fe de Bogota
Telefax. 57-1-2222935

Comandante del Ejercito Nacional
Santafe de Bogota
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Comisionado para la Paz Fax: +57.1.560.9946

Oficina en Colombia del Alto Comisionado de la ONU para
los Derechos Humanos
Fax: +57.1.313.4050

Presidente del Consejo de la Union Europea
Ministro de Asuntos Extranjeros del Reino de España
Josep Pique i Camps
Plaza de la Provincia, 1 - 28071 MADRID
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Director del Gabinete de la Presidencia, D.  Carlos Aragones
Mendiguchia, Complejo de la Moncloa - Madrid
Fax : (+ 34).91.390.0356

Urgent Solidarity is edited and disseminated by Nizkor International
Human Rights Team.

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