Solidarity Activists Forced Into Hiding in Colombia

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The Irish Latin American Solidarity Campaign announced March 29 that two representatives sent to Colombia to investigate a complaint of human rights violations had been forced to go into hiding by collusion between the Colombian army and right-wing terrorist death squads.

One of those endangered was an Irish citizen, Gearoid O Loinsigh; the other was a German coworker. The two had flown to Santa Rosa del Sur in response to an appeal from a nearby farming and mining community.

Upon arrival the two human rights activists were held and questioned for several hours by the army. When they were released, they were instructed to stay in a certain hotel in the town. Warned that the hotel was frequented by the death squadrons, they did not go there. At midnight, the hotel was raided and thoroughly searched by a squad of right-wing assassins.

The next day a group of Germans, with no connection to the Irish Latin American Solidarity Campaign, were stopped by the army and persistently questioned about O Loinsigh and his companion. The two human rights activists were trapped in the area, fearing contact with the military at the airport, since it was obviously working with the death squadrons.

A local human rights group with which O Loinsigh works contacted the Irish government, and it got in contact with the Colombian government. However, Colombian officials responded only by saying that they had no control over the death squadrons. They did not offer any protection for the human rights activists.

Over the past 10 years, hundreds of human rights activists, along with many trade-union activists and political oppositionists, have been murdered in Colombia. It has become one of the countries where assassination is the most common. Murder is obviously one of the main resorts of the corrupt and discredited rulers that the United States is trying to rescue by massive military aid.

For further information on this case or to find out how to join a campaign in defense of the threatened activists, e-mail the Irish Latin American Solidarity Campaign at lasc@iol.ie.

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