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Colombia: Death threats against human rights defenders Ms Martha Lucia Giraldo, Ms Cristina Castro, Ms Berenice Celeyta and Ms Aída Quilcué
On 10 December 2010, human rights defenders Ms Martha Lucia Giraldo, Ms Cristina Castro, Ms Berenice Celeyta and Ms Aída Quilcué received numerous death threats following a public event held in Valle de Cauca to mark the 61st anniversary of International Human Rights Day.
Marta Lucia Giraldo works with the Movimiento de Victimas de Crimenes de Estado – MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes);
Cristina Castro is a member of the Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Politicos- Seccional Valle de Cauca - CSPP (Solidarity Committee for Political Prisoners – Valle de Cauca branch);
Berenice Celeyta is the Director of the Asociacion Para la Investigacion y Accion Social - Asociación NOMADESC (Association for Investigation and Social Action);
Aída Quilcué is the former Chief Counsel of the Consejo Regional Indígena de Colombia – CRIC (The Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca).
On 10 December 2010, various human rights organisations in the Valle de Cauca region of Colombia came together to mark the 61st anniversary of International Human Rights Day. Public events to mark the day were held in the municipalities of Cali and Zarzal.
Similar events were also organised separately by the State with the objective of highlighting the State's support and respect for human rights. During the event organised by the various human rights groups, they launched a Human Rights Life Plan, which sets forth a strategy to tackle human rights issues in the region, focusing on victims of state crimes, LGBTI rights, trade union movements, urban settlements, students and human rights defenders.
Almost immediately after the event had taken place, at 6:39pm, Martha Lucia Giraldo received a text message containing a threat which listed the various organisations and stated “muerte a ustedes y comensamos desde hoy águilas negras nueva generacion” (death to you all, today we begin our new generation of the Black Eagles).
A few hours later, at 9:05pm Cristina Castro received a similar death threat on her mobile phone stating “muerte a Nomadesc, movice, ecate, fcspp, pcn, los sapoas guerrilleros” (death to Nomadesc, movice, ecate, fcspp, pcn those Guerilla traitors).
Shortly afterwards, Berenice Celeyta and Aída Quilcué received two text messages on their mobile phones, the first message was the same as that sent to Cristina Castro, while the second message stated that “benefactores de la guerrilla moriran perros guerrilleros con sus familias acabaremos muerte” (benefactors of the guerrillas will die, damn guerrillas and their families will end up dead).
The death threats were reported to the local police authorities, and although the human rights defenders were able to provide them with the phone numbers from which the threats came, to date no action has been taken.
Front Line is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders and given the fact that Colombia continues to record some of the highest levels of attacks on human rights defenders, including killings, Front Line reiterates that immediate measures must be taken to protect those who have been threatened.