AFGJ Enters La Tramacúa Prison Following Brutal Beatings of Inmates

There have been two critical developments in the LA TRAMACÚA PRISON, which was built with U.S. funds and input. We have learned of a brutal eight hour attack against the striking prisoners at La Tramacúa. The attacks occurred this weekend and have left five people in the hospital and at least 30 persons in need of medical attention. These aggressions are a blatant attempt to crush prisoner mobilizations demanding:

* An adequate supply of potable water;
* Clean food free of fecal contamination;
* Sanitary and functioning toilet facilities;
* An end to beatings and torture that target political prisoners;
* The closure of La Tramacúa.

Please respond to the Call to Action in the following section.

We have also just gotten word that Raquel Mogollón has been granted permission to enter the prison and investigate current conditions. Raquel is a volunteer for the AFGJ and part of the International Network in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (which AFGJ helped found). She will be visiting the prison with a small delegation of human rights defenders and members of the Colombian Congress. The permission for this visit was granted because of efforts by AFGJ and the INSPP and our Colombian partners, Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity), and due to the intervention of Colombian Congressman Ivan Cepeda.

However, because this is a sudden and sizable expense and because we are not only sending Raquel but covering the costs of our Colombian partners, we are making a special plea for contributions in support of this crucial effort. Mark “Other: Enter Name” and type “Tramacua Fund” in the space provided.

CALL TO ACTION–SEVERE AND BRUTAL ATTACKS YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO BREAK NEGOTIATIONS WITH PRISONERS

We have received information from our Colombian partners, Lazos de Dignidad, that brutal attacks were undertaken against the prisoners of Patios One, Two, Three, Four and Five at La Tramacúa, starting at 8pm, June 11 and ending at 4am, June 12th. These included assaults with tear gas and stun grenades, as well as severe beatings. Prisoners committing civil disobedience by suspending themselves in harnesses from upper floor balconies were cut loose and/or thrown from their scaffolds, falling to the bottom floor. Five prisoners are in hospitals and more than 30 inmates need medical attention.

Following is a description from one of the prisoners who witnessed these events:

“They reduced the number of persons hanging from the balconies. Thrown to the floor, their hands and feet were shackled and they were beaten with sticks and fists in the presence of the Director of the institution….One young man who was among those hanging from the balcony of Tower Five, while being forced to lower himself, fell from the structure and seems to have fractured some part of his body.”

Lazos reported that, “The prisoners of Towers Eight and Nine protested during the eight hours of the operation, hearing strong cries coming from the other towers where the prisoners were begging for their lives and to not be so brutally beaten. INPEC guards did not respond to their pleas. Able to observe what was happening in these [other] towers, [the prisoners of Towers Eight and Nine] observed the exit of various bodies of prisoners in states of unconsciousness being carried by INPEC on improvised stretchers or bed sheets….”

This is the latest outrage in a series of events that seem designed to break negotiations with prisoners and to destroy the will of inmates demanding better conditions. We do not know whether the orders for thes attacks came from higher officials or not but it is clear that the Director of the prison was involved, watching and participating in the events as they happened.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please send an email IN SPANISH calling for an end to the beatings and in support of the prisoners’ demands. You may write your own letter or cut and paste in the following sample email. Send to the following Colombian and international agencies:

fsantos@presidencia.gov.co, german.vargas@mij.gov.co, ministro@minjusticia.gov.co, direccion@inpec.gov.co, secretaria_privada@hotmail.com, agenda@agenda.gov.co, defensoria@defensoria.org.co, oacnudh@hchr.org.co, cidhoea@oas.org, apizarro@oas.org, embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.org, james@afgj.org

NOTE: Inevitably some of these emails will bounce back. Please send them anyway. This has been a regular problem with some of the emails and for others, the fact that they start bouncing back is an indication of the high number of contacts they have received.

SAMPLE EMAIL, followed by translation:

Estoy alarmado por los ataques brutales que ocurrieron la noche del 11 de junio contra los presos del penitenciario en Valledupar-La Tramacúa. Las demandas de los presos son validos. Junto mi voz a las llamadas de los presos, el alcalde de Valledupar y el defensor regional para el cierre de La Tramacúa. Y mientras que La Tramacúa queda en operación, exijo un fin a los ataques y las torturas de los presos, la provisión de comida limpia y un abastecimiento suficiente de agua potable.

En adición, quiero expresar mi apoyo para las demandas siguientes difundido por los presos y Lazos de Dignidad:

1. A Unidad de Derechos Humanos de la Fiscalía General de la Nación–

Abrir la investigación penal y proferir órdenes de captura contra todos los funcionarios del INPEC que participaron en el operativo iniciado desde las 8:00 pm el 11 de junio y finalizado a las 4:00 am el 12 de junio de 2011, mediante el cual se cometieron crímenes de lesa humanidad y violaciones graves a los derechos humanos contra los prisioneros en la Penitenciaria de Alta Seguridad de Valledupar, vinculando inicialmente al director y subdirector de ese penal como autores intelectuales de los delitos.

2. A Procuraduría General de la Nación–

Ejercer el PODER PREFERENTE para investigar y sancionar disciplinariamente a todos los funcionarios del INPEC que participaron en el operativo iniciado desde las 8:00 pm el 11 de junio y finalizado a las 4:00 am el 12 de junio de 2011, mediante el cual se cometieron crímenes de lesa humanidad y violaciones graves a los derechos humanos contra los prisioneros en la Penitenciaria de Alta Seguridad de Valledupar, iniciando con la destitución inmediata del director y subdirector de ese penal.

3. A la Defensoría Nacional del Pueblo–

Hacer PRESENCIA INMEDIATA en la Penitenciaria de Alta Seguridad de Valledupar para verificar los graves hechos denunciados por los prisioneros y emitir un pronunciamiento público sobre lo hallado.

4. Al Presidente de Colombia y al Ministro del Interior y de Justicia–

Como máximas autoridades penitenciarias Ordenar el Cierre Inmediato de la Penitenciaria de Alta Seguridad de Valledupar y reconocer públicamente los crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos por el INPEC contra los prisioneros en ese penal.

5. A la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos y a la Oficina de la Alta Comisionada para los Derechos Humanos en Colombia–

Emitirsus pronunciamientos de repudio a las conductas y crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos por el INPEC contra los Prisioneros en la Penitenciaria de Alta Seguridad de Valledupar y conminar al Estado Colombiano para que se investiguen y sancionen a todos los funcionarios que participaron en los hechos violatorios.

TRANSLATION:

I am alarmed to hear of the brutal attacks that occurred the night of June 11th against the prisoners of the penitentiary in Valledupar-La Tramacúa. The demands of the prisoners are valid. I add my voice to the calls of the prisoners, the Mayor of Valledupar and the Regional Public Defender for the closure of La Tramacúa. And while La Tramacúa remains in operation, I demand an end to the attacks and tortures of the prisoners, the provision of clean water and a sufficient supply of potable water.

In addition, I want to express my support for the following demands distributed by the prisoners and Lazos de Dignidad:

1. To the Human Rights Office of the National Ombudsman–

Open the penal investigation and release order for the capture of all the functionaries of INPEC that participated in this operation that began at 8pm on June 11th and ended at 4am on June 12th, 2011, during which they committed crimes against humanity and grave violations of human rights against the prisoners of the Penitentiary of High Security at Valledupar, linked initially to the Director and Sub-Director of this penal institution as intellectual authors of these crimes.

2. To the National Attorney General–

Exercise the PREFERENTIAL POWER to investigate and discipline with sanctions all the functionaries of INPEC who participated in the operation, beginning with the immediate removal for office of the Director and Sub-Director of this institution.

3. To the National Public Defender–

Make an IMMEDIATE PRESENCE at the High Security Penitentiary of Valledupar in order to verify the grave deeds denounced by the prisoners and emit a public pronouncement over what is found.

4. To the President of Colombia and the Minister of the Interior and Justice–

As the highest penal authorities, Order the Immediate Closure of the High Security Penitentiary of Valledupar and order the Colombian State to investigate and sanction all the functionaries that participated in these acts of violation.

5. To the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Colombia–

Emit your pronouncements of repudiation of the conduct and crimes against humanity committed by INPEC against the Prisoners of the High Security Penitentiary of Valledupar and order the Colombian State to investigate and sanction all the functionaries that participated in these acts of violation.