Urgent! Colombian Union and Peasant Leaders Arrested

May 13, 2013

Agricultural workers union leader and human rights defender Guillermo Cano jokes with AfGJ delegates.  Photo by Raquel Mogollón.

The Alliance for Global Justice has received news that Guillermo Cano of the FENSUAGRO agricultural workers union has been detained along with seven unidentified unionists and members of the Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March) in the Colombian Department of Tolima. Don Guillermo is the Human Rights Coordinator for ASTRACATOL, the FENSUAGRO affiliate in Tolima. He is also on the Executive Board for FENSUAGRO. Don Guillermo is a good friend of AfGJ’s and accompanied us on our most recent delegation to Colombia. These arrests took place just a few days after all involved had attended a forum organized by the United Nations Development Program in Colombia and the National University on popular participation in the peace process.

CLICK HERE to send an email to Colombian authorities, including the prosecutor who ordered these arrests, and to the UN Office on Human Rights in Colombia.

This is the latest in a series of events showing an increase in repression against both FENSUAGRO and the Marcha Patriótica, a social and political movement advocating for popular participation in the peace process and for meaningful land reform. In late March, two FENSUAGRO leaders were assassinated, both members of the ASOCAT peasant union (and FENSUAGRO affiliate) in the Department of Cauca: Alonso Lozano, murdered on March 24, 2013, and Gustavo Adolfo Pizo Garcia, murdered on March 25, 2013. On March 3, 2013, ASTRACATOL leader Maribel Oviedo was apprehended by members of the Colombian Armed Forces and threatened with execution and illegally detained for two days. AfGJ organized a solidarity campaign calling for her freedom, and Maribel credited national and international solidarity for her safe release.

Once again we ask our supporters to take quick action on behalf of Don Guillermo and his seven fellow union members, and on behalf of FENSAUGRO. The charge of “Rebellion” is notoriously vague and has been used repeatedly to silence and intimidate unionists and members of the political opposition. Colombia has more than 10,000 political prisoners, the vast majority of them in jail for nonviolent activities. A high proportion are human rights defenders and labor leaders like Don Guillermo.

CLICK HERE to send an email to Colombian authorities.

PLEASE LET OTHERS KNOW

We urge our friends and supporters to repost, retweet, resend, republish and otherwise spread this alert to whomever you think might support this effort. If we act quickly and substantially, we hope we can win Don Guillermo’s release just the way we helped win the recent release of fellow ASTRACATOL member Maribel Oviedo.

BELOW IS THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE ALERT WE RECEIVED FROM THE LAZOS DE DIGNIDAD FOUNDATION IN COLOMBIA, FOLLOWED BY THE ORIGINAL SPANISH

GUILLERMO CANO, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AND ASTRACATOL LEADER, ARRESTED IN MASS DETENTION OF PEASANTS IN TOLIMA

PUBLIC DENUNCIATION
MASS DETENTION OF PEASANT LEADERS IN TOLIMA
GUILLERMO CANO HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AND ASTRACATOL LEADER DETAINED

The Lazos de Dignidad Foundation DENOUNCES  before the national and international communities the mass detention of eight (8) peasant leaders belonging to the Social and Political Movement Marcha Patriótica in the Departament of Tolima, in accordance with the following:

FACTS

1.       Yesterday, May 9th, 2013, in different small towns of the department of Tolima, by orders of the 2nd Circuit Municipal Tribunal of Purificación (Tolima) the National Army carried out raids and the mass arrest of eight (8) peasant leaders, who were taken by helicopter to the 21st Mobile Military Base, located in La Chica, Prado Municipality- Tolima; during the transfer, the detained were photographed on various occasions, and subsequently at 8:00 pm, were transferred by car to Purificación – Tolima.

2.       Among those arrested is Mr. GUILLERMO CANO, Human Rights Coordinator of the Association of Peasant Farm Workers of Tolima (ASTRACATOL) and Executive Board member of FENSUAGRO, and whom during the 28th, 29th, and 30th, participated in the “FORUM ON POLITICAL PARTICIPATION” organized by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program in Colombia) and the National University, where in his capacity as a human rights defender demanded of the Colombian State democratic guarantees and security for the carrying out of his work as a leader.

3.       Today, May 10th, the arrested peasant leaders were subjected to combined preliminary hearings concerning the legalization of the raid, capture, accusation, and preventive detention, where the Lazos de Dignidad Foundation legally represented the human rights defender and peasant leader GUILLERMO CANO.

4.       It is necessary for us to denounce that these arrests and prosecutions have been brought by the 29th District Attorney’s Office of Purificación (Tolima), which has accused the peasants of being responsible for the crime of Rebellion basing their accusations on the statements of alleged demobilized guerrilla members.

Don Guillermo. Photo by Raquel Mogollón.

DETENIDO GUILLERMO CANO, DEFENSOR DE DERECHOS HUMANOS Y LÍDER DE ASTRACATOL, EN CAPTURA MASIVA DE CAMPESINOS EN EL TOLIMA

DENUNCIA PÚBLICA
CAPTURA MASIVA DE LÍDERES CAMPESINOS EN EL TOLIMA
CAPTURADO GUILLERMO CANO DEFENSOR DE DDHH Y LÍDER DE ASTRACATOL

La Fundación Lazos de Dignidad DENUNCIA ante la comunidad nacional e internacional la captura masiva de ocho (8)  lideres campesinos pertenecientes al Movimiento Político y Social Marcha Patriótica en el Departamento del Tolima, de acuerdo a los siguientes:

HECHOS

1.       El día de ayer, 9 de mayo de 2013, en diferentes veredas de los departamentos del Tolima, por ordenes el Juzgado 2 Promiscuo Municipal de Purificación (Tolima) el Ejército Nacional desarrolló allanamientos y captura masiva de ocho (8) líderes campesinos, quienes fueron conducidos en helicóptero a la Base Militar Móvil 21, ubicada en La Chica, Municipio de Prado- Tolima; durante el traslado, los capturados fueron fotografiados en varias ocasiones, luego de esto siendo las 8:00 pm, fueron trasladados en carro hasta Purificación – Tolima.

2.       Entre los capturados se encuentra el señor GUILLERMO CANO, Coordinador de Derechos Humanos de la Asociación de Trabajadores Campesinos del Tolima (ASTRACATOL) y miembro del Ejecutivo de FENSUAGRO, quien durante los días 28, 29 y 30 participó en el “FORO SOBRE PARTICIPACIÓN POLITICA” organizado por el PNUD y la Universidad Nacional, donde en su calidad de defensor de derechos humanos exigió al Estado Colombiano garantías democráticas y de seguridad para el ejercicio de su liderazgo.

3.       Hoy 10 de Mayo, los líderes campesinos capturados fueron sometidos a audiencias preliminares concentradas de legalización de allanamiento, captura, imputación y medida de aseguramiento, donde la Fundación Lazos de Dignidad representó jurídicamente al defensor de derechos humanos y líder campesino GUILLERMO CANO.

4.       Es preciso denunciar que estas capturas y judicializaciones han sido promovidas por la Fiscalía 29 de Purificación (Tolima), que ha señalado a los campesinos de ser responsables del delito de Rebelión basándose en declaraciones de presuntos reinsertados.