URGENT ACTION ABOUT FATHER JOAKIN MAYORGA

On December 7, 2004 at about 4 p.m. Father Joakin Mayorga, Director of the Justice and Peace office of the Diocese of Magangue, was detained by police at the bus station in the city of San Gil as he was about to travel to Bogota. He was taken to the San Gil police station and told that his detention was due to a judicial investigation into his work as a priest and human rights defender in the Diocese of Magangue. He was later released and a police official by the name of Perez later told the Lawyers Collective Jose Alvear Restrepo that the detention had resulted from a mistake in identification. Father Joakin was detained under similar circumstances last August in the town of Onzaga, which like San Gil is in Santander province.

Father Mayorga’s work has during the past year been a fundamental support for Colombia Support Network (CSN) activities in Colombia. He attended the annual national meeting of CSN in Madison, Wisconsin, last April and then spent a month traveling to CSN chapters in Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota describing his work in promoting human rights and grass-roots community organization in Santander and Bolivar provinces. He is passionately dedicated to helping the poor and disenfranchised through community organization, and to opposing human rights violations by helping the people who have suffered from these violations tell the story of what happened. The detentions in San Gil and Onzaga likely occurred because Joakin was charged several weeks ago with calumny and injury by the Narino Batallion of the Colombian Army, which is stationed in the town of El Banco in Magdalena province, because Joakin denounced publicly the arbitrary detention and murder of three miners and a juvenile.

The information about these murders had come to Joakin through a letter from community members who had witnessed these occurrences. In other words, Joakin’s alleged crime was to report publicly information implicating the Colombian Army in the murder of four persons! On Tuesday January 27, 2004 in the town of Canonigo, Bolivar State, troops of the Narino Battalion headquartered in the city of El Banco, took into custody and dissappear HOVANIS VEGAS – ATENCIO, JAIRO VILLALBAS-CAMPUSANO, NOLBERTO CAMPUSANO-ZULETA and OSNAIDER SOLANO- ZULETA who is 13 years old

Please write to the following persons to urge them to adopt necessary

measures for the following:

1. To protect Father Mayorga, to respect his fundamental rights, and to guarantee him the free exercise of his work as a priest and a human rights defender;

2. To investigate who is involved in the systematic persecution of Father

Mayorga, and to bring them to justice and sanction them for their

activities;

3. To guarantee due process in the court proceedings against Father

Mayorga; and

4. To investigate the murders of the four people mentioned above; to

determine whether the Colombian Army was implicated in these murders; and

to process and punish those responsible for the murders.

The Colombian government should be reminded that it has an obligation to protect and respect the security of human rights defenders such as Father Mayorga, and to take whatever measures are necessary to permit Father Mayorga to carry on his work in defense of human rights, as well as religious work.

YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS

COLOMBIA DESK STATE DEPARTMENT

TEL ( 202) 647 3360

200 Constitution Av NW

Washington D.C. 20210

barclayg@state.gov

HUMAN RIGHTS DIRECTOR U.S. EMBASSY BOGOTA

Mr Craig Conway

ConwayCM@state.gov

MR. ALVARO URIBE VELEZ

President of Colombia

Carrera 8 # 7 – 26

Palacio de Narino

Bogota . Colombia

Fax 011 57 1 566 2071

Email : auribe@presidencia.gov.co

MR. FRANCISCO SANTOS

Vice-President of Colombia

Carrera 8 # 7- 57

Bogota, Colombia

Fax 011 57 1 566 2387 or 565 7682

Email ; fsantos@presidencia. gov.co

MR. JORGE ALBERTO URIBE

Minister of Defense

Avenida El dorado con Cra 52 CAN

Bogota, Colombia

Fax : 011 57 1 222 1874

Email : siden@mindefensa.gov.co

infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co

mdn@cable.net.co

MR. EDGARDO MAYA

Procurador General ( Office in charge of investigating military abuses)

Carrera 5 # 15 – 80

Bogota, Colombia

Fax : 011 57 1342 9723

Email : reygon@procuraduria.gov.co

anticorrupcion@presidencia.gov.co

Colombia Support Network

P.O. Box 1505

Madison, WI 53701-1505

phone: (608) 257-8753

fax: (608) 255-6621

e-mail: csn@igc.org

http://www.colombiasupport.net

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org