Colombian rights activists get death threats

Former senator Piedad Cordoba and more than 20 other human rights activists in Colombia have received fresh death threats from right-wing gangs, a leftist lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Bogota: Former senator Piedad Cordoba and more than 20 other human rights activists in Colombia have received fresh death threats from right-wing gangs, a leftist lawmaker said on Tuesday.

"There are several events," Senetor Ivan Cepeda told RCN Radio. "In Barranquilla there were threats against prominent human rights activists and leaders of the victims` movement, and Monday we learned that Piedad received at her home a funeral wreath with a cruel and atrocious warning."

The message threatening rights advocates in the Barranquilla area came from the criminal outfit Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles), a group founded by former paramilitaries.

The group mounted a massive campaign of threats in September and October.

"We will hung you down one by one," the gang said, identifying as military objectives all individuals and organisations representing people who try to reclaim land seized by the paramilitaries, counseling victims of Colombia 50-year-long internal conflict or defending jailed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla groups.

Among those threatened are members of the leftist parties Marcha Patriotica and Union Patriota, the second of which was almost wiped out in the 1980s and 90s by right-wing gunmen.

"These threats tell us that as the peace process (between the Colombian government and the FARC) advances, threats also multiply and this is something that authorities should take into account," Cepeda said.

Cordoba, who in the past brokered the release of captives held by the FARC, posted a message on Tweeter expressing gratitude for the many messages of support she has received. 

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