Colombia: Solidarity with Asoquimbo spokesman

We forward the international call in solidarity with Miller Armin Dussan Calderón, ASOQUIMBO spokesman, struggler in defence of the the Quimbo territories against the ENEL hydroelectric project “El Quimbo”, investigated by the Huila Regional Procuration for its commitment with the affected communities.

Call for action in solidarity with Miller Armin Dussan Calderón

President of the Republic of Colombia
Juan Manuel Santos Calderón.

{Urgent Action for the protection of Professor and Investigator of the South Colombian University (USCO) MILLER ARMIN DUSSAN CALDERON}

This is an early warning of the situation of vulnerability and risk off human rights violations of the organized civilian population and the academic scholars dedicated to research related to environmental conflicts in Colombia.

The different research groups, unions, human rights advocates, educators, academics, researchers, national and international scientists and the undersigned wish to express our concern, support and solidarity with the educator, social researcher and leader of the USCO MILLER ARMIN DUSSAN CALDERON, who on May 28th the Regional Attorney General´s Office of Huila opened an investigation against.

The context of this early warning and urgent action is based on the following facts:

1. The professor and researcher MILLER DUSSAN CALDERON, has a degree in Linguistics and Literature from the South Colombian University-USCO and has a Specialty in Judicial Institutions, Public Policy and Law from the National University of Colombia. DUSSAN CALDERON, also has a Masters in Educational and Social Development from the Pedagogical University, and both a Masters and a PhD in Education and Society with a rating of outstanding (cum laude), from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

He currently serves as professor of the USCO, a position he has held since 1993 teaching courses within the fields of Pedagogy, Epistemology, Philosophy, History of Education, Conflict Resolution and Counseling Educational Practices. He worked as a researcher at the Center for Educator Studies and Investigations CEID-FECODE and collaborates with the magazine “Education and Culture”, from which he orients the Pedagogical Movement. He was a faculty representative in the USCO´s Governing Council and has worked for the over-all quality of educational processes and for the well-being of the University community in general. In 1997 he served as the Vice-President of the USCO and was a major contributor to the proposal of the University Network for National Peace and Coexistence.

He was involved as a researcher for seven years in the Inter-University Working Group for Adult Popular Education with colleagues from the Universities of Antioquia, Valle, Cauca and National Pedagogical University and worked on the team of researchers as part of an alliance between the Andes University, Colciencias, Harvard University, Red Prodepaz, Petroleum Foundation and the South Colombian University on the project “Empowerment of communities: Programs for development, peace and oil.”

The work of Professor Dussan regarding the impacts and conflicts generated with Hydroelectric Dams is well known nationally and internationally and his studies and arguments have been published in books, magazines and websites and have been widespread in social and academic forums all over the world. As a result of his statements, denouncements and the social protests of the affected communities against the construction of the Quimbo Dam; the Comptroller General of the Republic, the National Anti-Corruption Unit and the new Unit of Crimes against the Environment of the Attorney General´s Office have monitored and researched the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project´s environmental damages and given the gravity of the situation the threatening of State resources and the lives and safety of the local population.

2. Currently he has been following the social movement in defense of the affected by Quimbo hydroelectric project, arguing and supporting peacefully by publishing and speaking out in the defense of the ecosystems, the archaeological heritage of Colombia and the rights of impacted communities by using legal mechanisms established in national and international, judicial and institutional framework for the defense and protection of human and environmental rights. He has also supported the initiative of the affected communities to form a Campesino Reserve that will ensure the Agricultural and Nutritional Security for the region.

3. It is well-known among national and international public opinion that the process of peaceful and civil resistance led by the communities affected by the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project for the last 3 years has never exhibited any acts of violence from the communities.

4. The context of the social and environmental problems facing the communities impacted by this energy project is why Professor Dussan has accompanied the process, which is the motive why a disciplinary investigation against him has been initiated. This investigation is based on a memo from Colonel JUAN FRANCISCO PELAEZ RAMIREZ, from the Regional Attorney General´s Office of Huila, on March 7th, 2012, to which was attached a video which aims to assess “the irregular nature and behavior of Professor Miller Dussan,” in the demonstrations that have occurred against Quimbo hydroelectric project.

This video occurred during the events of February 14th-15th, 2012 when there was a violent displacement of the communities affected by the dam, that were in their legal and natural right to be on the public banks of the Magdalena River, by the ESMAD (Riot Police Unit) of the National Police of Colombia. The disproportionate and violent actions of the security forces left several wounded, including young worker Luis Carlos Trujillo Obregon, who lost his right eye.
The images shot and shown around the world showed how local inhabitants, as they have claimed since they began their protests against the construction of the dam, did not use any forms of violence, not even to defend themselves against police aggression.

As stated, on March 7th, 2012 Colonel JUAN FRANCISCO PELAEZ RAMIREZ, from the National Police of Colombia, sent a complaint to the Regional Attorney General´s Office of Huila against Professor Miller Dussan for the reasons stated above.

The foundation of the investigation being conducted by the Regional Attorney General´s Office is troubling and threatens the free speech of Professor Miller Dussan, as well as all the participants of civil society that through peaceful actions have organized and highlighted the irregularities of this energy project. This should be taken into account because according to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression “Freedom of expression in all its forms and manifestations is a fundamental and inalienable right of all people. It is also a prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society. ”

5. On March 16, 2012 the Company Emgesa through its legal representative for Judicial and Administrative Affairs, Mr. Jairo Ernesto ARIAS ORJUELA, by right of petition, requested information from the South Colombian University regarding Professor Dussan´s resume, later clarifying that it was to solicit a quality control through powers of the Attorney General’s Office. We consider this an illegitimate and arbitrary act because the university is not obliged to deliver what are exclusive, academic documents regarding human resources to private entities; this is a violation of university autonomy.

It is to highlight the peculiarity of both solicitations, curiously both were made at the same time and in the same style which not only reflects an intention to stigmatize the work of Professor Miller Dussan with communities affected by the project, but it also puts at risk human rights violations of all those who make evident the irregularities of these large economic projects and how detrimental they are to the environment, diversity and life.

As people associated with the academic reflection we believe that our mission is to contribute to the holistic formation of citizens through the assimilation, production, application and dissemination of scientific, humanistic, technological, cultural, artistic and popular knowledge, with a critical spirit in order to reflect and act effectively in solving the problems of human development in the country and the world, within a framework of freedom of thought, ideological pluralism and in accordance with an ethic that seeks to strengthen solidarity and human dignity.

For this reason we express concern that the above facts show the persecution, stigmatization and prosecution against Professor Miller Dussan, a part of a an established policy of criminalizing social movements that deepens the plight of human rights violations suffered by the Colombian people. Particularly, we believe that the conflict has been intensifying through actions leading to the criminalization of protest, research and backing of the rights to the environment.

We immediately request a suspension of all unsubstantiated legal action against Professor Miller Dussan Calderon and a guarantee that his fundamental rights and personal safety, that if his family, his freedom of thought, organization, expression and academic freedom as well as the respect and guarantee of to not replicate these actions against other social actors that intervene the economic policies that destroy our natural diversity of territories.

Sign here the call to the Colombian Republic

International Signatures:

Arturo Escobar, Professore di Antropologia, Università della Carolina del Nord, Chapel Hill – U.S.A.
Pablo Ospina, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito – Ecuador
Dra. Silvia Rodríguez, Catedrática de la Universidad Nacional, San José – Costa Rica
Dr. Jorge Lobo, Escuela Biología Universidad de Costa Rica, San José – Costa Rica
Scott Robinson, Profesor Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa – México
David Barkin, Profesor Distinguido Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco – México
Mario Antonio Godínez, Facultad de Agronomía Universidad de San Carlos – Guatemala.
Mario Alejandro Pérez, Universidad del Valle – Instituto CINARA, Facultad de Ingeniería, Cali – Colombia
Belizza Janet Ruiz Mendoza, Profesora Facultad de ingenierías, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia
Sergio H Lopera C, Profesor Asociado Facultad de Minas, Director Grupo de Economía y Medioambiente – GEYMA
Tomás León Sicard, Instituto de Estudios Ambientales de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Gregorio Mesa Cuadros, Profesor Asociado Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Patricia Jaramillo, Profesora Asociada, Departamento de Sociología Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Catalina Toro Pérez, PHD Ciencia Política, Profesora Asistente Departamento de Ciencia Política, Coordinadora Grupo Política y Derecho Ambiental, Coordinadora Maestría Biociencias y Derecho, Facultad de Derecho Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Jairo Puente Bruges, Decano Facultad Química Ambiental, Universidad Santo Tomas, Bucaramanga
Julio Fierro, Profesor del Instituto de Estudios Ambientales de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Luz Dinora Vera A., Profesora Asistente Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Teresita Lasso Amezquita, Profesora Asociada, Directora del Observatorio de Conflictos Ambientales, Universidad de Caldas
Javier Gonzaga Valencia Hernández, Profesor Asociado Observatorio de Conflictos Ambientales, Universidad de Caldas
Dra. Mirta A. Antonelli, Profesora adjunta categoría I Universidad Nacional de Córdoba – Argentina
Daniel Libreros Caicedo, Docente de la Universidad Nacional, Facultad de Derecho y Ciencia Política
Carlos Salgado Aramendez, Director Planeta Paz
Alfredo Molano Bravo, Sociólogo, Periodista y Escritor – Colombia
Aldemar Macias Tamayo, Sociólogo y docente de la Universidad Surcolombiana
Yamile Johana Peña Poveda, Directora de Corporación Com-Unidad
Carlos Ernesto Gómez, Director de Asociación Cultural y Ambientalista del Sur – ACAS
Juan Pablo Soler, Director Otros Mundos – Colombia
Tatiana Roa Avendaño, Presidenta Censat Agua Viva – Amigos de la Tierra Colombia
CENSAT AGUA VIVA – Amigos de la Tierra Colombia

Italian signature:

Confederazione COBAS
A Sud Onlus
CDCA – Centro Documentazione Conflitti Ambientali
Partito della Rifondazione Comunista
Comitato SpeziaViaDalCarbone, La Spezia
Coordinamento “Il sud siamo noi”, Ravenna
EcoMapuche, Ass. di amicizia con il popolo Mapuche

_ Source