Two and a half weeks after an operation by the Colombian Army in Putumayo that left 11 dead, including several civilians, international pressure is growing for the Government of Iván Duque to clarify and investigate an operation that ended in a massacre. Among the deceased, who were at a local party, there is a pregnant woman, a minor and the governor of an indigenous town.
“According to international human rights law, the intentional use of lethal weapons can only be done when it is strictly unavoidable and with the purpose of protecting life,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday. in Colombia by recommending that “all disciplinary and criminal measures be taken to prosecute and punish those responsible for what happened in Alto Remanso.”
After a visit to the area, the UN confirmed that in the operation “firearms would have been used, while 30 to 50 people were in the bazaar, including children and women. As a result of the military operation and the use of lethal force in Alto Remanso, some 11 people were killed and five more were injured.” The voices demanding an exhaustive investigation were also heard at the United Nations Security Council in New York.
We urge the authorities to adopt prevention, protection and reparation measures for the community, including protecting the life and integrity of witnesses. We call for the protection of investigative journalists who are receiving attacks X their publications on Alto Remanso. 9/9
— UN Human Rights Colombia (@ONUHumanRights) April 13, 2022
The military incursion on March 28 in the village of El Alto Remanso, a rural town located on the border between Colombia and Ecuador, was presented by the Army as a success against the FARC dissidents, armed groups that emerged after the peace agreement. with the State signed in 2016. President Iván Duque stated that they had “neutralized 11 dissident criminals” and had captured four more. As the days went by, and after complaints from residents and the media, it was learned that civilians were among the dead, and the Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that no one had ever been captured.
A dozen testimonies collected by EL PAÍS in Putumayo, an area with the presence of coca leaf crops, indicate that there were civilians and combatants among the dead. The images obtained by this newspaper show that at least one body, that of the minor Brayan Santiago Pama, was manipulated and moved from the place where he fell. In one of the images the body appears in a boat, unarmed, and in another he is already seen with a rifle placed on his body. The fact has reminded us of false positives, as the nearly 6,402 murders of civilians at the hands of the military, youth from poor neighborhoods or peasants who were disguised as combatants and presented as combat casualties by the Army were called in the country.
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President Duque and the military leadership have closed ranks around their version, maintaining that the 11 dead in Putumayo were combatants and that the community bazaar was a place to buy coca. “It is not the first operation where pregnant women and minor combatants fall,” justified the head of the Colombian Army, General Eduardo Zapateiro, although these are not legitimate targets. According to various sources, the woman bled to death because she did not receive first aid for an hour and a half.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) also called on the Government to “provide clear information, especially on the number of people killed, injured, captured and disappeared” during the military operation and also urged to carry out investigations “under protocols that avoid the stigmatization of victims.
Defense Minister Diego Molano must appear before Congress to respond to the inconsistencies of the operation, a military plan whose objective was the capture of alias Bruno, which was not achieved. He will also have to explain why the Army men, according to the community, showed up dressed in black, without identifying themselves, shot at a bazaar where there were civilians and manipulated the scene.
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