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Colombia – Death threats against human rights defenders in Cauca and Valle Departments
On 24 September 2012, a number of human rights defenders working with different human rights organisations in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments were the subjects of a death threat sent to the mobile phone of Mr Walter Agredo Muñoz.
Mr Walter Agredo Muñoz is a member of the Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos – FCSPP (Political Prisoner's Solidarity Committee).
On 24 September 2012, at approximately 1:19 am, Walter Agredo Muñoz received a text message containing a death threat against 13 individuals. Of the 13 targeted, eight were identified by both a first name and a surname, while five were identified solely by a first name. After first seeing the message at around 6:30 am, Walter Agredo Muñoz called each of the other individuals mentioned in the message and he learned that Ms Aida Quilcué, a leading member of the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca – CRIC (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca), had also received the threat.
In addition to the names mentioned above, the threat included the names of Ms Martha Giraldo, Technical Secretary of the Valle section of MOVICE; Ms Milena Olave, a member of the Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – CPDH (Permanent Committee for the Defence of human Rights); Mr John Freddy Poso and Ms Luz Marina Palacios, both members of the social development and human rights organisation Asociación ECATE; Mr Diego Escobar, a member of the Executive Committee of the Valle section of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia – CUT (Colombian Confederation of Workers); and Ms Olga Naranjo, a member of the Asociación para la Investigación y la Acción Social – NOMADESC (The Association for Research and Social Action).
Of the five individuals who only had their first names included, all of whose identities are known to Front Line Defenders, several are members of MOVICE and Front Line Defenders has issued appeals on their behalf in the past.
Martha Giraldo is one of six human rights defenders featured in a joint Front Line Defenders / MOVICE campaign seeking to increase public support and awareness of human rights defenders in Colombia (http://www.radiohrd.org/).
This threat is the latest in a series of threats and acts of harassment suffered by human rights defenders in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments this year.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of the human rights defenders who were threatened, as well as the security of other members of those organisations, and believes that this death threat is directly linked to their legitimate human rights activities.