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Issue #1607      August 21, 2013

Paramilitaries threaten trade unionists

Paramilitaries have threatened scores of trade unionists, many of whom are in labour negotiations, as well as human rights defenders and other organisations in Colombia.

The paramilitary group Rastrojo Urban Commandos (Los Rastrojos – Comandos Urbanos) emailed an announcement on August 4, with death threats. They named 30 people, most of them trade unionists, and a few organisations, said they were military targets and accused them of having links to guerrilla forces. They also threatened these people’s families.

Among those named are the Union of Workers of the Mining, Petrochemical, Agro-Fuels and Energy Industries (Sindicato Nacional de la Industria Minera, Petroquímica, Agrocombustible y Energética, SINTRAMIENERGETICA), the United Federation of Mining and Energy Workers (Federación Unitaria de Trabajadores Mineros y Energéticos, FUNTRAENERGETICA) and the Union of Workers of the Metal Industry (Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria del Metal, SINTRAIME).

Several of the people named are members of SINTRAMIENERGETICA and part of a union delegation negotiating with the mining company Drummond Ltd. They have been on strike for over two weeks, following failed negotiations. In recent months paramilitaries have made repeated death threats against members and leaders of SINTRAMIENERGETICA. Small-scale miners (mineros artesanales) had also begun a national mining strike in mid-July, which was supported by the trade unions named in the death threat.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Expressing concern for the safety of all those named in the August 4 paramilitary death threat, and other members of SINTRAMIENERGETICA, FUNTRAENERGETICA and SINTRAIME;

Demanding that the authorities provide protection for those at risk, in strict accordance with their wishes;

Urging them to order a full and impartial investigation into the death threat and previous attacks and threats, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;

Urging them to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with the security forces, in line with repeated UN recommendations.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE SEPTEMBER 19 2013 TO:

President Señor Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República,
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7–26,
Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 596 0631   

Next article – Work without dignity

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