Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Colombian Jesuit work receives death threats

Colombia: Death threats against Jesuit project
On 10 April, the Development and Peace Programme of Magdalena Medio (Programa de Desarrollo y Paz en Magdalena Medio - PDPMM) was the second Colombian Jesuit programme to be targeted by a rearmed wing of the AUC paramilitary group, which calls itself the "Black Eagles - The Rearmament."

In this most recent communication the paramilitaries threatened priests, parishes, human rights groups and humanitarian workers with death, claiming the peace workers targeted were named by Colombian government sources as allies of the guerillas. The Black Eagles have been responsible for deaths and displacements throughout the Atlantic Coast and Southern regions of Colombia in the past year and appear to be growing in size and strength.

The message describes the parish priest of the Regidor municipality (in southern Bolívar, Colombia) as "an obstacle to the municipal government," the parishioners of Tiquisio and Arenal as "war workers," and members of the Development and Peace Programme of Magdalena Medio as "perpetrators of criminal acts against democratic security". The Catholic Dioceses of Barrancabermeja and Magangué and the Jesuit-run Development and Peace Programme of Magdalena Medio responded on 15 April with a joint statement addressing the threats against priests, parishioners, and humanitarian workers. Condemning the ongoing violence, the statement denounces the killing of over 2,000 people in the region since 1986, including 28 workers of the PDPMM.

The public statement can be found here: (in English) and here: (in Spanish); and on the website of the PDPMM (in English, Spanish and German).