Case History: Gary Martínez Gordon
Human rights defenders in Colombia continue to face threats of attack. Throughout 2015, pamphlets distributed in Colombia routinely state that named individuals and human rights defenders must leave the area they are in and cease all of their human rights activities. The pamphlets are commonly signed and marked with the stamp of a paramilitary group, most frequently “Las Aguilas Negras”. Threats increased targetting against activists who choose to continue their work.
Gary Martínez Gordon is a human rights defender and student leader in the Barranquilla municipality of Northern Colombia.
Human rights organisations in Colombia continue to face threats including the Movimiento de Victimas de Crimenes de Estado – MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes) and the Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos – CSPP (Political Prisoner's Solidarity Committee).
Pamphlets, either hand delivered or emailed to a wide range of individuals and groups, state that named individuals and human rights defenders must leave the area they are in and cease all of their human rights activities. The pamphlets are commonly signed and marked with the stamp of a paramilitary group, most frequently “Las Aguilas Negras”. Threats increased targetting against activists who choose to continue their work.
In the month of March, threatening pamphlets targetted the following human rights workers:José Humberto Torres, Mr Deivis Flórez and Ms María Cedeño (members of CSPP); MsMartha Díaz, Ms Ingrid Vergara Chávez and Ms (members of MOVICE); Mr Mauricio Aviles, member of the Corporación de Centros de Estudios y Desarrollo de los Derechos Humanos – CEDERHNOS (Corporation of Study and Development Centres for Human Rights); Ms Soraya Bayuelo, Director of the Colectivo de Comunicaciones Montes de María (Communications Collective of Montes de María); Mr Fabian Oyaga, Director of the Unidad de Restitución de Tierra del Magdalena (Magdalena Unit for Land Restitution); Mr Jerry Garavito, member of the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (Centre for Investigation and Popular Education); Mr Juan David Ortega Jiménez, a lawyer of the Fundación Infancia Feliz (Happy Childhood Foundation); Mr Jairo Barreto López, community leader and human rights defender in Montes de María; Mr Gary Martínez Gordon, human rights defender and student leader; as well as human rights defenders Ms Sandra Manjarrés and Mr Agustín Jiménez.
The distribution of these pamphlets comes in the context of long-term harrasment and intimidation of members of MOVICE and other civil society organizations throughout Colombia. Human rights defenders in the country are constantly subjected to threats, intimidation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, torture, killings, illegal searches on their homes and offices and stigmatisation as a result of their activities in defence of human rights.
On 21 January 2015, the body of human rights defender Mr Carlos Alberto Pedraza Salcedo was discovered by members of the judicial police in an uninhabited area of San Bartolomé, Gachancipá Municipality, in the department of Cudinamarca. Carlos Alberto Pedraza Salcedo had allegedly been shot in the head.
Carlos Alberto Pedraza Salcedo was a member of the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado – MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes) and the Proyecto Colombia Nunca Más (Never Again Project of Colombia).
In the months since Salcedo's death, human rights defenders have continued to face harrassment and threats. On 16 March 2015, at approximately 8:30 pm, a black Twingo car (the registration plate of which is known) was observed outside the home of human rights defender Ingrid Vergara Chavéz. Moments later a black high performance cylinder motorcycle, carrying two unidentified men, was noticed passing by the human rights defender's home a number of times. Ingrid Vergara Chavéz phoned the national police, as the telephone provided to her as part of her security scheme by the National Unit of Protection was going straight to voice-mail. She also phoned her security guards, who arrived immediately. The black car drove off at high speed, the security guards gave chase but were unable to reach them. Ingrid Vergara Chavéz phoned the police again, with officers arriving 45 minutes after the first call had been made. On 17 March 2015, the human rights defender was informed by members of her community that the previous day some men in the same type of car as described above had been asking for her whereabouts and had identified themselves as being members of the Seccional de Investigación Criminal – SIJIN (Criminal Investigation Section) of the National Police and were looking to speak with her.