The afternoon of Friday, March 23, Manuel Ruíz, a 56 year old member of the Census Committee of the Apartadocito Community Council, Curvaradó Basin, and Samir de Jesús Ruíz Gallo, 15 years old, were abducted by paramilitaries…
Their whereabouts have been unknown since the paramilitaries forced them to get off the vehicle in which they were traveling from Mutatá to Apartadocito, Curvaradó.
According to witnesses, one of the paramilitaries got on the vehicle that was carrying Manuel and Samir and other residents. Minutes later, the man, who identified himself as a paramilitary, ordered the driver to stop at a point known as “El Basurero (The Garbage Dump),” where two other members of the paramilitary structure were waiting.
Before the paramilitary action, Manuel and his son had been approached by police officers in Mutata and detained when they were charging one of their cell phones 317 370 7029 and 311 337 2374.
On that day, Friday March 23 about 4:30 p.m., Manuel contacted his family, telling them that they had been forced to get off the vehicle at the place called “El Basurero,” near the bridge over the Rio Sucio, ten minutes from Mutatá, and that the captors demanded two billion pesos (a million US dollars) to release them. He added that the money should be taken to a place for sending and receiving money orders in Mutatá called GANA.
On Saturday, March 24, about 10:30 a.m., in Apartadocito, a member of the Apartadocito community asked the government representative there to clarify what had happened to Manuel and his son since he was the one who was going to guide the course in Los Piscingos. The government representative said that the abduction was an attempt to sabotage the inspection of the boundaries and that he would look for another person to guide them.
In fact, Manuel would have guided the government in the inspection of the area known as “Los Piscingos,” occupied in bad faith by the business owners and their subordinates since 1996 following the paramilitary operations. The inspection would have taken place today to fulfill the Constitutional Court Order A-045 of March 7, 2012. The national government stated that the Urabá Police knew about the situation of Manuel and Samir through the Ombudsman, and specified that actually he had been abducted with the intention of robbery or that it was related to their cell phones.
The police affirmed that they found it strange that this happened just when Don Manuel was supposed to participate on that day in the process of characterization with the national government delegation in Apartadocito.
Manuel is one of the 37 members of the Curvaradó basin who are victims of threats against their lives for reclaiming their land. The Interior Ministry carried out a risk analysis and assigned him a cell phone as a protective measure.
The absence of guarantees, the failure to confront paramilitarism among them, is evident. The Colombian government ought to demand that state institutions activate a search for and confrontation of entrenched support for paramilitary operations in the public security forces.
About 5:30 p.m. on Friday March 23, it became known that paramilitaries, among them, Jesús Moya Asprilla, better known as “El Cucho,” told relatives of the victims that Manuel and Samir had been assassinated about 3:00 a.m. and their bodies thrown under the Rio Sucio bridge.
Manuel and his son, before being detained for more than 30 minutes by police officers, had been accused by paramilitaries of being guerrillas. A similar paramilitary modus operandi took place in October 2005. On that occasion, the leader in the restitution, Orlando Valencia, after having been detained by police in Bajirá, was disappeared and afterward assassinated by paramilitaries.
On Sunday morning, March 25, in the presence of police, the family found a bloody footprint on the bridge. In the afternoon, the police reported that they flew over the zone and had to suspend the search because of bad weather conditions.
The family, with national and international accompaniment, searched the place known as “El Basurero” without finding any trace. The police in Mutatá asked Mrs. Trinidad Gallo, wife of Don Manuel and mother of Samir, to sign documents. She was unable to determine what the documents were about.
Don Manuel had denounced to the government that one of the administrators of the businessman, Victor Rios, known as “El Bicho" (The Bug), had pressured him to withdraw from the census process. Manuel had constantly been intimidated by this businessman, a bad-faith occupier whose land bordered his own. Currently seven children and twelve adults of the Ruíz Gallo family are displaced in Mutatá.
Tomorrow morning early, family members, together with members of the humanitarian zones and biodiversity zones of Curvaradó, with national and international accompaniment, will resume the search for Manuel and Samir in the Rio Sucio (River).
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz , Bogotá, March 24, 2012
Relatives identify the remains of Manuel Ruiz, and the search group from the communities is on the way to another body that has been found
About 8:30 today, relatives and members of the Curvarado Community Council, identified the remains of Manuel Ruíz, observing a bullet hole in his cheek and a mistreated body. The clothing and accessories correspond to those that the land restoration leader was wearing the day he was abducted by paramilitaries.
The relatives of Manuel arrived at the site with the support of the search group that the Curvaradó communities who live in the humanitarian zones had put together to look for this community leader and his son. Yesterday, the community group determined the location where the remains had been found and were there until nightfall. This morning, they went there again with members of the family to identify the body.
They are still awaiting the arrival of the Technical Investigation Corps to evacuate the body.
The relatives request that the mortal remains of Manuel be taken to Chigorodó to undertake all necessary procedures and that he be given a Christian burial.
About 8:50 a.m. local time, it was reported that another body of a youth was found at the place known as Cañaduzales. At this moment relatives are going there, with national and international accompaniers and the community search group.
These remains may be those of Samir Ruiz, a 15-year-old boy, disappeared together with his father Manuel last Friday, when they were forced by paramilitaries to get off the vehicle on which they were traveling from Mutatá to Apartadocito.
Manuel, leader of the community of Apartadocito, was the object of death threats because of the restitution of lands that are occupied by the businessmen Victor Rios, Fabian Rios, and Carlos Rios who use their workers to spread threats. “El Viyo” and Leonel Holguin Suescún are two such workers. They are beneficiaries of paramilitarism and bad-faith occupiers who carry out business deals in the communities’ territories.
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, Bogotá, D.C., March 28, 2012
COLOMBIA: PARAMILITARIES KILL FATHER AND SON
Manuel Ruíz, a member of the community council of Apartadocito, and his son, were abducted and subsequently killed by paramilitaries in northern Colombia on 23 March. Other members of the family and community may be in danger.
On 23 March paramilitaries abducted Manuel Ruíz and his 15-year-old son Samir de Jesús Ruíz, members of the Afro descendant and Afro mestizo community of Apartadocito in the Curvaradó River Basin, Chocó Department. They were travelling between the town of Mutatá, Antioquia Department, and the area of Apartadocito. According to witnesses, paramilitaries stopped them in an area known as “El Basurero” near Mutatá. Manuel Ruíz managed to telephone his family to tell them they had been forced out of the vehicle they were in and that their abductors were demanding a large sum of money for their release. Before their abduction, they had been approached by paramilitaries in Mutatá and accused of being guerrillas, and were subsequently stopped briefly by police.
On 24 March a paramilitary informed Manuel Ruíz and Samir de Jesús Ruíz’s family that they had been killed that morning. On 27 March, members of the communities of the Curvaradó River Basin, accompanied by national and international observers, found the body of Manuel Ruíz in the Río Sucio area. On 28 March the body of his son Samir de Jesús Ruíz was found near the river in the Cañaduzales area.
The killing of Manuel Ruíz and Samir de Jesús Ruíz occurred just before a government inspection was to be carried out of an area known as Los Piscingos. Manuel Ruíz was to guide the government inspectors. The inspection was a response to a court order of 7 March 2012 instructing that a census of the area be carried out to help determine the rightful owners of land. The family of Manuel Ruíz and others were displaced from Los Piscingos by paramilitary forces in a joint military-paramilitary operation in the area in 1996. Following the abduction and killing of Manuel Ruíz and his son the family have left Apartadocito fearing for their safety.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY.
* Express concern for the safety of the family of Manuel Ruíz and other members of the communities of the Curvaradó River Basin. Urge the authorities to guarantee their safety in strict accordance with their wishes.
* Demand a full and impartial investigation into the abduction and killing of Manuel Ruíz and Samir de Jesús Ruíz, with those responsible brought to justice.
* Urge them to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with the security forces, in line with stated government commitments and recommendations made by the UN and other bodies.
HERE IS THE CONTACT INFORMATION YOU NEED:
Presidente Juan Manuel Santos Presidente de la República Palacio de Nariño Carrera 8 No.7-26 Bogotá, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 596 0631 Salutation: Dear President Santos / Excmo. Sr. Presidente Santos
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Señor Juan Camilo Restrepo Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural Avenida Jiménez No 7-65, Piso 3 Bogotá, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 286 2649 Salutation: Dear Minister Restrepo / Estimado Sr. Ministro Restrepo
Attorney General: Eduardo Montealegre Fiscalía General de la Nación Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 (Ciudad Salitre) Bloque C, Piso 4 Bogotá, Colombia Fax: 011 57 1 570 2000 (You may need to dial ext 2020) Salutation: Dear Minister Restrepo / Estimado Sr. Ministro Restrepo
PLEASE SEND A COPY TO
The Honourable Diane Ablonczy Minister of State for Consular and Foreign Affairs (Latin America) House of Commons Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 Fax: (613) 992-2537 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /email@example.com
Her Excellency Clemencia Forero Ucros Ambassador for Colombia 360 Albert Street, Suite 1002 Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7 Fax: (613) 230-4416 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Apartadocito community council is part of the body which governs the collective land holding of Curvaradó.
Since the 1990s, paramilitaries, either acting alone or in collusion with the armed forces, have been responsible for killings, death threats and the forced displacement of Afro-descendant and Indigenous People living in the Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó River Basins and the Indigenous resguardo (reservation) of Urada-Jiguamiandó. As a means to guarantee their safety, members of the Afro-descendant communities of Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó created Humanitarian Zones to assert their rights as civilians not to be drawn into the conflict. The communities have sought to defend their land rights and prevent the expansion of illegal African palm plantations and other economic activities within their territory. Many of their members have been threatened and killed as a result. In the last couple of years a number of people living in the Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó region who have complained about the occupation of their lands by African Palm growers and other economic interests have been killed by paramilitaries, who continue to maintain a strong presence in the region despite the large army presence. Those living in the resguardo of Urada-Jiguamiandó have also been subject to repeated death threats and several have been killed since the late 1990s.
In 2011 a large-scale paramilitary presence an hour away from the Humanitarian Zones of Caracolí, Tesoro-Camelias and Caño Claro-Andalucía, and the area of El Firme and No Hay Como Dios, in the Curvaradó River Basin, was reported in the wake of a visit by government ministers to the area. It was hoped that this would result in commitments to return lands stolen, often violently, by paramilitaries operating on behalf of African Palm, banana and cattle-ranching interests operating in the region. The return of these lands was ordered by the Constitutional Court in a ruling in May 2010. Reports indicate that paramilitaries are plotting to kill Afro-descendants campaigning for the restitution of stolen lands. In recent years, attempts have been made on the lives of leaders and people living in the Humanitarian Zones. In 2008, Walberto Hoyos Rivas, a leader of the Curvaradó River Basin Community, was killed by paramilitaries.Afro-descendant communities, along with Indigenous People and peasant farmer communities are among those most affected by Colombia’s long running internal armed conflict. They have been subjected to enforced disappearance by the security forces or by paramilitaries, either acting alone or in collusion with the armed forces and abducted by guerrilla groups.