Case history: Martha Elena Díaz Ospina
On the morning of 9 February 2014, human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz received the fifth text message to declare her a military target and threaten her with death within three days.
Martha Díaz is the director and legal representative of the Asociación de Familiares Unidas por un Solo Dolor (Association of Relatives United by a Single Sorrow – AFUSODO), an organisation for family members of victims of extrajudicial killings, particularly false positives. 'False positive' is used to describe extrajudicial killings of civilians carried out by the army and then falsely presented as members of armed insurgent groups. The vast majority of these cases remained unpunished. Martha Díaz is also the technical secretary of the Atlantic chapter of Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Estado – MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of the State).
On the morning of 9 February 2014, human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz received the fifth text message to declare her a military target and threaten her with death within three days. All five threats have come from the same phone number.
On 6 February 2014, Martha Díaz received three text messages at 8:51am, 9:01am and 11:20am, which informed her that she had been declared a military target and that she was being monitored. On 7 February, at 1:24pm, she received another message reiterating that she was a military target and saying that she had 72 hours to leave the city, otherwise she would be killed. The latter was received after Martha Díaz had reported the first three to the authorities.
These threats are the latest in a pattern of serious threats against Martha Díaz, as well as against the organisations she works for. Due to the gravity of the ongoing threats against her, she is currently receiving protection measures from the National Protection Unit.
On 16 May 2013, human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz Ospina was targeted once again at her home. At 6:30am, Martha Díaz Ospina's security guards arrived at her home to discover a package in a Manila envelope on the terrace. Once they opened the envelope they detected a package in a plastic bag containing a small clock. The security guards immediately phoned the police and anti-explosive squad, who confirmed that the package did not contain explosive materials.
The package also carried a note stating:“LLEGO TU HORA ESTOS ES SOLO LA MUESTRA DE LO QUE TE VENDRA DESPUES. TOMALO EN SERIO SAL DE LA CIUDAD SIN HACER TANTA BULLA O SERAS DECLARADA OBJETIVO MILITAR ... GUERRILLERA”
(Your time has arrived, this is just a sign of what will follow for you. Take it seriously leave town without making any fuss or you will be declared a military target... Guerrillera)
Given the seriousness of this recent threat, together with the previous appeals issued on threats against human rights organisations in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments, Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Martha Díaz Ospino and other members of AFUSODO.
On 24 January 2013, human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz was targeted with a death threat. This followed a pamphlet received on 22 January 2013 which threatened the National Movement of the Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), of which Martha Díaz is a member.
At approximately 9:00 pm on 24 January, a package in a manila envelope was delivered to the residence of Martha Díaz, which contained a mass card and note with letters cut from a newspaper. The letters stated: “Estas muerta eres colaborada de la guerrilla guerrillera no extamos jugando alguno de ustedes va a caer" (sic) (“You are dead, you are a collaborator of the guerilla, we are not joking, one of you is going to die”). On 22 January, the human rights defender received a pamphlet sent by a group who identified themselves as "Los Rastrojos”, which threatened various non-governmental organisations including MOVICE.
Martha Díaz is Director and legal representative of AFUSODO, an organisation of relatives of victims of extrajudicial executions and a member organisation of MOVICE. Since its creation, AFUSADO is believed to have received some 27 threats.
On 14 November 2012, human rights defender Ms Martha Díaz received threats against her life in the latest of a series of recent death threats targeting members of the Asociación de madres unidas por un solo dolor - AFUSODO.
At around 6am, Martha Díaz was at her home in Barranquilla when an unknown man approached her house on a powerful motorbike. The man told her to “leave this place, don't go looking for more problems; it's not worth it. Don't burn yourself even more.” When she asked him why she had to leave, the man told her “they will come to visit you in the night” and left immediately after. The motorbike did not have license plates.
On 30 October 2012, human rights defender and AFUSODO member Ms Yadira Pérez found a note that had been slid under the door of her home in Barranquilla. The envelope was addressed to “the monkey”. Inside was a note warning her that “your time is coming, you've got to die”, together with a picture of a coffin, a crucifix and again the word “monkey”.
The following day, 31 October, the defender once again found a note slipped under her door. This time the note claimed that the authors would carry out their previous threat and mentioned that all they wanted was for the defender to leave her neighbourhood; otherwise, it said, “we will kill you and your whole generation. All your movements are being watched, we know you close your door at midnight.” Inside the note was another picture of a coffin with another text warning her to leave her house within a month, or the authors would kill her sons and two daughters. It further warned that if she called the police, they would certainly kill her grandchildren.
In a previous threat, on 22 October 2012, human rights defender and AFUSODO member, Ms Dulce María Rodríguez, was visited at her house in Barranquilla by two unknown individuals who insisted that she immediately leave her house, or she would be assassinated. In response, the defender has had to relocate.
In light of the allegation that those responsible for the threats may be connected to the armed forces, and given the substantial amount of serious threats recently received by non-governmental human rights organisations in Colombia, Front Line Defenders is concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of the AFUSODO members. Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal on similar death threats against human rights organisations in the Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments on 28 September 2012.