Dear Mr. Pinzón:
I am writing to express my concern for Hernán Henry Díaz who was forcibly disappeared earlier this year, on 18 April 2012, in a region controlled by the armed forces in Putumayo. Mr. Díaz is a human rights defender working on behalf of indigenous peoples and agricultural workers, who was one of the main organizers in his region of the Patriotic March. He was disappeared just before the March was scheduled to begin.
More than 30,000 Colombians have been forcibly disappeared, at the hands of all kinds of armed groups, both left-wing and right-wing, but also by the Colombian armed forces. Victims include human rights defenders, trade unionists, Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples and poor rural farmers and their families.
Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Colombia face ongoing harassment and attack, and are in need of greater protection from the state, which should include pursuing justice and accountability for those who attack and threaten HRDs and other civilians. At the most fundamental, HRDs should not be at risk of being disappeared, and the state should take all measures to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
As Colombia seeks to move forward from decades of violence and war, it is imperative that human rights defenders be afforded the maximum effort to ensure their safety and that of their families. I urge you to take further steps to investigate and pursue the perpetrators of force disappearances, and ensure that the armed forces under your control are not participating in such abductions.
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