A U.S.-based NGO alleges that they and 80 other Colombian NGOs received death threats from Colombian paramilitary group the “Aguilas Negras.”
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), whose aim is to redirect U.S. policy in Latin America towards goals of “human rights, democracy, and social and economic justice,” claimed on Monday that they received an email that threatened them and fellow NGO workers with death because of their human rights work in Colombia.
The email, which was sent on Friday, warned the NGOs that, “as so called human rights defenders don’t think you can hide behind the offices of the [Colombian] Inspector General or other institutions… we are watching you and you can consider yourselves dead.”
According to WOLA, the paramilitary group declared them and 80 other Colombian NGOs who work with Colombia’s indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and internally displaced populations, as “military targets.”
WOLA stated that the email threats “falsely accuse the listed organizations of having links to the FARC guerillas and as such declaring themselves military targets.”
According to WOLA, the other targeted organizations are “long time partners of WOLA” who had “recently visited the U.S. in order to raise awareness of human rights violations linked to violent and illegal land take overs by illegal armed groups.”
WOLA went on to explain that, “Many of the groups recently met with UN special mechanisms on ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and extrajudicial executions, U.S. Members of Congress and high level U.S. officials, where they informed such delegations of abuses. Many of these organizations also recently signed a collective U.S.-Colombian civil society letter in support of House Resolution 1224 in favor of honoring Colombia’s Constitutional Court for its orders on Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and women internally displaced persons.”
Last month, WOLA, who argues that U.S. policy in Colombia is wreaking havoc in a myriad of ways, sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of a bill that asks the Colombian government to make good on Colombian Constitutional Court mandates to protect the rights of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities.
Last year, the Aguilas Negras reportedly threatened human rights advocates, public officials and other citizens in the department of Cuaca.