I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
I am also a visiting fellow at Centre for Applied Human Rights in University of York ,UK.
I came to know about the situation from Front Line ? The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders .
On 14 November 2012, human rights defender Ms Martha D?az received threats against her life in the latest of a series of recent death threats targeting members of the Asociaci?n de madres unidas por un solo dolor ? AFUSODO (Association of Mothers United by a Single Sorrow). Martha D?az is Director and legal representative of AFUSODO, an organisation of relatives of victims of extrajudicial executions and a member organisation of the National Movement of the Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE).
On 14 November, around 6am, Martha D?az 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 P?rez 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 Mar?a Rodr?guez, 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, I am concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of the AFUSODO members.
I urge the authorities in Colombia to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats against human rights defenders Martha D?az, Yadira P?rez and Dulce Mar?a Rodr?guez, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the abovementioned human rights defenders;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com