Article by PBI-Canada
On February 19, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “PBI accompanies the Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL) in Ituango, Antioquia where they draw attention to the lack of security guarantees for human rights defenders and the rural population of the area: 327 people are displaced due to clashes and insecurity.”
The CJL also tweeted: “The Corporation for Judicial Freedom arrived at Ituango with PSG [Social Guarantee Process] and PBI-Colombia. There we were able to verify the difficult situation that the communities of the different villages are going through that today are forced to leave their territories. In total 327 displaced people.”
For a short video and additional tweets on this, click here.
RCN Radio reports: “The mass departure of the peasants occurred after several community leaders received a series of calls and messages from people claiming to be members of illegal armed groups and threatened to attack the population.”
And El Tiempo has explained: “The paramilitaries of the AGC [the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia] began attacking last Sunday [February 14] a group of FARC dissidents, the ’18 Front’, who were returning to a territory from where they had been expelled by the Army, according to [the news agency] EFE.”
Isabel Cristina Zuleta of the Ríos Vivos organization says: “As a result of these combats, the [FARC] dissidents threatened the population as a form of pressure to get the Army to the area and lessen the attack they were experiencing from the paramilitaries.”
The article adds: “Faced with these threats [from the FARC], the [AGC] paramilitaries responded with new intimidations toward the population and assured them that they would burn the houses of those who fled.”
Zuleta says: “The situation is frightening, there are hundreds of families suffering in the village and hundreds of others walking because the paramilitaries, to try to avoid travel, threatened the transport company.”
PBI-Colombia has previously posted: “Several of the cases that CJL is working on focus on defending the environmental rights of communities, and more specifically, the right to water. One of the sadly famous cases in this area is that of the controversial Hidroituango hydroelectric project, located in the municipality of Ituango.”
PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Corporation for Judicial Freedom, which was founded in 1993 by a group of lawyers and law students, since 2000.