Facing information about a supposed massive displacement of youth from the Comuna 13 last week that was made public in the media, social, community and human rights organizations, together with artistic and cultural youth groups want the media and the public opinion to know that:
First, a a group of youth left — from different neighborhoods in the district — temporarily and voluntarily to a holiday home in the outskirts of Medellin, not under the condition of forced displacement. The group that is outside of the district is made up of 60 young members of several cultural collectives from the Comuna 13. It is worth mentioning that some of these people are minors.
Second, the youth took the decision to leave the district over a period of days facing a threat made on November 1 by an illegal armed group operating in the El Salado neighborhood.
Third, the threat comes after the killing of Elder Varela, the “Duke,” in the early hours of October 30 and the realization of the “stage of life” in the central part of the Salado neighborhood; a threat that is added to successive acts of aggression and intimidation by armed groups against inhabitants of the sector and people linked to cultural processes.
Fourth, different units of the local administration are aware with the situation of threat and high vulnerability in which a large number of members of the La Elite hip hop network and the Son Bata cultural corporation since Friday November 2. However, so far no action has been taken to create the minimal conditions for us to return to our territories and our community cultural work.
Fifth, the youth and their organizations demand measures, resources and integral alternatives for the temporary relocation of the people at high risk. Moreover we want the city government, the security forces, the ombudsman, the judicial authorities, and the state as a whole, to take the necessary measures to protect life, guarantee human rights and the working condition for these social, community and cultural organizations.
Sixth, despite the fact that the Comuna 13 is the most militarized urban district in the country, several battles, assassinations, threats and arbitrary detentions have taken place in several neighborhoods and sectors of the comuna, which demonstrates the lack of capacity of the security forces to guarantee security conditions for the citizens and the lack of conditions that allow for the return of young leaders who have been victim of the threat.
Seventh, we demand that the municipal, departmental and national administrations, and the Ombudsman’s Office guarantee the conditions allowing the return to and staying of the youth in their territories, and security conditions allowing the carrying out of their cultural and community labor.
Eigth, we call on organizations and institutions of human rights defenders in the city and the country to accompany the youth initiatives in the Comuna 13 in the current environment.
The youth and their organizations who are currently being threatened respectfully ask the media and journalists:
First, to not publish images of leaders or members of cultural youth projects in the Comuna 13 in their reports, articles or whatever informative product about the current situation, in order to protect their lives and dignity.
Second, to not try to interview relatives of the Comuna 13’s youth and youth organizations while they and their relatives have not obtained the full conditions of security for them and their relatives.
The authors are part of a group of 60 members of cultural organizations from the Comuna 13 who fled Medellin’s most western district on Friday and have been in hiding after death threats from local criminal groups.