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Message from the San Jos? de Apartad? Peace Community PDF Print E-mail
Once more the Army kills a leader of our Community

We can?t express the pain and sorrow we are feeling right now. In a new attack, the army has assassinated ARLEN SALAS DAVID, leader of our community and coordinator of the Arenas Altas humanitarian zone. The facts we want to set down for history and humanity, so that they may some day be judged, are as follows:

On November 17 at 10:30 A.M., ARLEN SALAS and another six members of the San Jos? Peace Community were weeding out corn in Arenas Altas. Upon seeing them, the Army fired several rifle rounds and then threw a grenade that fell upon ARLEN, who was wounded. The army continued to fire while those with ARLEN attempted to assist him, but since the firing continued they were forced to take shelter behind some trees. When the firing stopped, they returned to ARLEN who lay dead by then.

Some of those who had been with ARLEN went to San Josesito to tell what had happened at around 1:00 P.M. Immediately a group of community members set out, accompanied by international observers; at the same time, another group left the village of La Uni?n, also heading for Arenas Altas. At Arenas Altas the two groups encountered the Army at around 5:00 P.M., in the farmhouse belonging to Rodrigro Rodr?guez. They were made to go inside the house and the Army began to say that they were all guerrilleros; that they had only shot at guerrilleros. The Army also said they would kill them, because the community forms part of the guerrilla and must be wiped out. Most of the soldiers had two rifles each: the one they carry according to regulations and an extra one, of the type that the paramilitaries have been seen with.

Then a group of soldiers began to shoot against the little village of Arenas Altas and the families living there were forced to leave their homes and look for somewhere to hide. Some bullets hit against the houses. The Army also shoots at a school where a male teacher is with several children. The troop says that the school is firing at them but the male teacher confronts them, saying this is a blatant lie; that he and the children were lying on the floor while the Army shot at them.

During the shooting against Arenas Altas HERNAN GOEZ, another member of the community is wounded. The community delegation reaches the community ombudsman at about 6:30 P.M, where ARLES? body was being held, and they carry him back to San Josesito. They pick up the grenade fragments in front of the ombudsman.

The facts are clear, we had already left testimony of them; the attack had been announced by the Army and we had seen it coming. It is the same story that holds true for other villages that lay empty today. It is the same story like when we also denounced the massacre of LUIS EDUARDO, ALFONSO BOLIVAR and their families. We already know the answers and the explanations that the government and the District Attorney?s Office will give, that they were guerrilleros. They will construct their scenarios and all will be left in total impunity. The victims will be labelled as the criminals. However, we also know that many people have seen the truth of what has happened and what continues to happen, and that some day all these murders, all these crimes against humanity, will be punished. We know that for the government our children are guerrilleros and this is why the Army shoots at them and kills them. We are nothing but collaborators of the guerrilla for the government, and this is why they save no efforts to wipe us out. Although they will repeat the lies they always tell, the international organisations and even the Ombudsman?s Office have seen the horror that is being blandished over us. Just eight days ago, ARLEN was telling an Italian commission that visited us about the situation in Arenas Altas, and informing them about all the threats and thefts that the Army has carried out against the Arenas Altas humanitarian zone. He was explaining to them how much we needed their support so that we are not totally exterminated. Once again, one of our leaders falls while abiding by our principles, while supporting our team work, in solidarity. This barbaric act will not make us give up. On the contrary, our leaders show us the way to continue building an alternative kind of work. This is why in moments of darkness we believe in a future with hope. We know that this new act will remain unpunished. In fact, we will be attacked again by the District Attorney?s Office that has already attacked us, as we left proof of on Saturday November 12.

We make an appeal for national and international support, so that our extermination can be stopped; so that the inhabitants of the whole region of Arenas Altas are not forced to become internally displaced, which the Army has told us is their objective. The serious and committed work that ARLEN was carrying out will guide us. Pain barely lets us talk but we will continue to cry ?Dignity? out loud, like he taught us to do during his daily chores and his commitment to the community. His two small children will continue to walk besides us, building a different tomorrow in which there will be respect for life. ARLEN, OUR TEARS ACCOMPANY THIS HORROR BUT YOU ARE WITH US, GIVING US LIFE, THANK YOU FOR YOUR LEADERSHIP, FOR YOUR COMMITMENT. SOMEDAY HISTORY WILL JUDGE THOSE WHO MURDERED YOU.


November 18 2005

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