Amilkal Labañino

Amilkal Labañino

Colombia: Murders of Human Rights Activists Continue, Report

A new study is calling upon the Colombian government to defend the rights of the “ignored ones” of society, who are often viewed as just nameless statistics.

Crimes perpetrated against human rights activists have not stopped despite the peace talks started over two years ago to end a conflict that lasted over half a century, according to an investigation reported by press agency EFE on Sunday.     

During the first semester of 2015, already 34 activists have been killed – 30 men and four women. Nine of the victims were indigenous people, four were from the LGBT and intersex communities, two were journalists, and three farmers. These groups along with other mining or student union leaders were targeted said the report by non-profit organization Somos Defensores, which will be released on Tuesday.       

This latest figure represents a 15 percent increase compared to the 30 activists killed during the first semester of 2014.                

Most of the murders were committed in the southern regions of Caqueta and Valle del Cauca.      

“We will continue to repeat that in such an important and historical political context, where priority is to find peace, social and human rights activists and leaders in these territories are still not valued in a way they should be for the construction of a real democracy,” states the authors of the report.

The report, entitled “The Nobodies,” is named after a poem by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, which speaks of “ignored ones” of society, the people “who do not have names, but numbers (...) that cost less than the bullet that kills."

According to the study, this attitude towards the victims’ deaths is reflected by the Colombian government, its judicial authorities, and “the indifferent country that does not flinch at the perverse daily sacrifice of these men and women."

28 out of the 34 murders have still not found a perpetrator, the report says. For the six other murder cases, two were attributed to the army, two to paramilitary groups, one to a police unit, and one to the Army of National Liberation guerrilla group, also known as ELN.

The report added that out of the 219 homicides of human rights activists committed between January 2009 and June 2013, “95 percent of the cases never passes the preliminary investigation... while only one case resulted in a firm sentence against the criminals.”

"A community without leadership has no horizon and a Colombia without organized communities will not build and sustain peace," the authors of the study said.

The group urged the government to stop treating social movement activists "like 'The Nobodies' of region, not caring whether they are dead or alive.”

  • Published in World

Mexico: Relatives of Disappeared Students Plan Hunger Strike

The relatives demand the government to allow interrogations of the military officials allegedly involved in the disappearances

The relatives of the 43 disappeared students from the Rural School of Ayotzinapa informed on Sunday they will be starting a hunger strike at the end of the month, until the first anniversery of their children’s disappearance on Sept. 26.

“We will go to the embassies... and do the hunger strike until they return our children,” Maria Concepcion Tlaltempa, mother of one of the students, told EFE.

A total of 35 relatives arrived Sunday in Guadalajara, the capital of the western state of Jalisco, along with other students from the Ayotzinapa school. They were part of the “Northern Caravan” that was initiated on July 29 and crossed the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas and Guanajuato, and meant to conclude on Aug. 11 in Michoacan.

On the Aug. 26, the relatives have planned to visit all the foreign embassies, in order to ask them to support the request of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights – part of the Organization of American States: the Mexican government should allow judicial authorities to interrogate the military officials from the 27th Battallion of Iguala, allegedly involved in the disappearances.

One month ago, the Mexican attorney general's office announced it will resume its investigation, during a meeting with relatives of the missing students – for the first time in nearly four months. Relatives had previously broken off talks with the government due to frustrations over the course of the investigation. It did not precise which lead would be followed.

According to the government, the students were murdered and burnt by members of the criminal group Gerreros Unidos, a version that their relatives question as an international team of forensics were not able to match the ashes with the students DNA. The attorney general's office had declared the case closed in December, having determined that the missing students were killed and their bodies burned, after they were turned over to an organized crime group by municipal police.

  • Published in World

Thousands of California Felons Regain Voting Rights

The ruling restores the right to vote to former inmates on post-release community supervision.

More than 60,000 convicts serving sentences under community supervision in California regained the right to vote Tuesday in a reversal of a decision by a former state official that prevented them from participating in elections.

The decision comes as part of a settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union of California and the state of California, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Tuesday.

The came just two days before the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which was enacted into law at the peak of theU.S. Civil Rights movement in 1965.

“Secretary of State Padilla is bucking a national trend in which voting rights are under attack,” said Lori Shellenberger, Director of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project. “We are thrilled that this administration has effectively said ‘no’ to Jim Crow in California, and instead is fighting for the voting rights of California’s most vulnerable communities.”

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU of California and other rights groups accused former Secretary of State Debora Bowen of violating state law when she issued an order to local elections officials to treat those on community supervision or mandatory supervision as if they were on parole.

Despite a judge overturning the policy in 2014 and finding that the order violated California state laws, Bowen ignored the ruling and kept her directive in place. Now, Padilla let the judge's ruling stand.

“Formerly incarcerated people should not be disenfranchised and have to fight for their voting rights. Restoration of these voting rights is long overdue and the League is pleased that California is leading the way to protect voting rights for all,” said Helen Hutchinson, President of the League of Women Voters of California, which was one of the co-sponsors of the lawsuit against the Bowen.

However, lawyers say that rulings similar to Tuesday's could easily be overturned by state governments. In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that would have extended the right to vote to more than 40,000 convicts.

  • Published in World

All Ready for Cuba-Mexico Meet in World Boxing Series

All is ready here for the meet Cuba-Mexico today between the Cuban Domadores and the Guerreros of Mexico, as part of the World Boxing Series.
During the weighting it was made official that the Mexican squad will be formed by Orlando Huitzil (52 kilograms), William Zepeda (60), Héctor Andrés Reyes (69), Ecuadorian Carlos Mina (81) and Edgar Ramírez (over 91).

Meanwhile, Cuba ratified Yosbany Veitía, Lázaro Álvarez, Roniel Iglesias, Julio César La Cruz and Leinier Peró, in that order.

The duel to be held this Friday night at the Ciudad Deportiva colosseum of Havana, the hosts arrive as favorites for being first in Group A and a sure ticket to semifinals of the tournament.

For their part, Mexicans are third in the same group and if they keep that place, they would advance to quarterfinals, to face the second place of the other group.

  • Published in Sports
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