Target: Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
Goal: Protect the lawyer and family of a disappeared man from threats and violence.
The family and lawyer of a man who was forcibly disappeared by paramilitaries in Colombia have recently suffered threats and violence. Sign the petition and call on Colombian authorities to investigate these threats and bring those responsible to justice.
James Holguín, along with four other men, was forcibly disappeared over a decade ago. Collectively referred to as the La Combinada case, the men’s bodies have never been found, nor have their kidnappers and killers been brought to justice.
Andrea Torres Bautista is the lawyer for Holguín’s family. After she requested that the judge presiding over the La Combinada case recuse himself, she received threatening phone calls in which a man told her, “You should stop annoying us, we are going to kill you, but first we will rape you so that you respect men.” Just days prior to the phone call, Jhon Alexander Holguín Ramirez, the son of James Holguín, was stabbed and hospitalized. His mother, Jacqueline Ramirez, was a witness to Holguín’s forced disappearance and has received a number of death threats.
Paramilitaries, as in the La Combinada case, often act in collusion with police officers, making it even more difficult to protect those who speak out against forced disappearances. However, it is of paramount importance that authorities in Colombia recognize the dangers Andrea Torres Bautista, Jhon Alexander Holguín Ramirez, Jacqueline Ramirez, and many others like them face, and that they protect them from further harm. Sign the petition and demand protection for Bautista and the Ramirez family and urge authorities to bring those who threaten them to justice.
Dear President Santos,
For the past fifty years, Colombians have been at the mercy of paramilitaries who threaten, kidnap, and kill with impunity. The time for action is long overdue, and it is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens from the threats paramilitaries pose. I therefore demand protection for the families and lawyers of those who have been forcibly disappeared by paramilitaries–particularly Andrea Torres Bautista, Jhon Alexander Holguín Ramirez, and Jacqueline Ramirez, all of whom are connected to the La Combinada case and who have recently faced a spate of violence and threats.
Jacqueline Ramirez was a witness to the forced disappearance of James Holguín, one of the five men involved in the La Combinada case, over a decade ago. She has received numerous death threats in connection with the case. Jhon Alexander Holguín Ramirez, James Holguín’s son, was recently stabbed and hospitalized just as things were moving forward in the case. And Andrea Torres Bautista, a human rights lawyer representing the family, received threatening telephone calls the day after requesting that the La Combinada judge recuse himself from the case. In the calls, a man told Bautista, “You should stop annoying us, we are going to kill you, but first we will rape you so that you respect men.”
Has anything been done to prevent these kinds of violence and threats? Of course not. Will anything be done? That remains up to you, Señor Presidente. For far too long, Colombia has allowed its citizens to be threatened, injured, and killed by paramilitaries. It is time to take a stand and protect those who simply seek answers. It is time to end threats against the lives of human rights activists who risk their own safety to help others.
I urge you to do what is right. Protect Andrea Torres Bautista, Jhon Alexander Holguín Ramirez, Jacqueline Ramirez, and others like them in accordance with their wishes, and do all in your power to bring those that threaten them and their families to justice once and for all.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts