Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Colombia: In Alvaro Rivera's murder, advocates demand hate crime investigation

Colombia Diversa, the largest LGBT rights advocacy organization in Colombia, has released a strong statement condemning last Friday's violent murder of LGBT rights activist Alvaro Miguel Rivera in the city of Cali, and demanded that authorities investigate whether it was a hate crime:
One of the founders of the LGBT movement in the country, Alvaro Miguel Rivera Linares, was murdered this past March 6th. Colombia Diversa demands an exhaustive investigation of this and the other cases in which the victims are LGBT individuals, and particularly those that show signs of homophobia.

Colombia Diversa demands that the corresponding authorities that they investigate the murder of Alvaro Miguel Rivera Linares exhaustively, as a renown defender of LGBT human rights and of people living with HIV.

Specifically, we ask that during the investigation it be entertained and verified whether there exist homophobic motivations of hate and prejudice, for his work as a defender, for the sexual orientation of Alvaro Rivera, and for the inhuman and cruel way in which he was murdered.

Alvaro Miguel dedicated a great part of his life to defend LGBT rights, reason why he was threatened on various occasions, and for which he even had to escape his hometown. Nonetheless, it is feared that the corresponding authorities might hurry to indicate other causes for the murder and might play down or ignore proof of homophobia, as has occurred with many similar cases.

Cruelty and impunity in Cali

There is worry about serious instances of prejudicial violence against the LGBT population in Cali, a situation which Colombia Diversa - along the Santa Maria Foundation - have reported for years. As it has been able to be established, the murder of Alvaro Miguel Rivera occurs in a context of generalized violence against the LGBT population, specifically in sectors of the city such as, among others, Loma de la Cruz, where there are registered instances of police abuse and arbitrary detentions, specially against the transgender community.

As the organization has warned, the authorities in charge regularly rush their conclusions on the motivations for the murder of an LGBT individual, particularly for personal prejudice and a lack of specialization in these kind of crimes, and confuse them with "crimes of passion", which not only blames the victim but also minimizes social responsibility for these acts.

In addition to this, the passivity and omission state entities in the City of Cali is it is evident when faced by this situation, even though it involves the public authorities.

For this reason Colombia Diversa announces it's concern and condemnation against the murder of Alvaro Miguel Rivera, as well as for the level of violence that exists in Cali towards the LGBT population. At the same time, it invites all the civil society organizations to express their rejection against these situations. In particular, we call on the following local and state authorities in Valle and Cali:

* Valle del Cauca Governor's Office
* Cali Mayor's Office
* Cali Police Department
* The Director of the local Cali Prosecution Office
* Regional Ombudsman for Valle del Cauca
* Cali public servants

We ask of these authorities that they:

1. That, in their investigative hypothesis, they consider Alvaro Miguel Rivera Linares' work as a defender of the human rights of the LGBT population as a possible motivation for the murder - and the context of violence against the LGBT community in Cali.

2. That they take prompt and effective actions to stop and prevent violence against the LGBT community in Cali, specially by the own public authorities of the city.

At the same time, Colombia Diversa urges the authorities on a national level to initiate investigative inquiries into the murder of LGBT human rights activists, as well as the other 67 deaths, confirmed by Colombia Diversa, between 2006 and 2007, in Colombia.

- Maurico Noguera, Colombia Diversa ( mnoguera @ colombiadiversa.com )
Colombia Diversa follows statements made by activists and friends who knew Alvaro in Cali (the YouTube video above, for which I have provided an onscreen translation, was broadcast on Saturday by Noticias Uno) demanding that the crime be investigated as a hate crime. In it, the Ombudsman of the City of Cali also demands an investigation of whether it was a hate crime.

In the meantime, as upset as I was about the murder of someone I admired, the details were what made things much worse. Today El Tiempo published the additional information I'd been keeping to myself:
Alvaro Miguel was found in his apartment tied to a bed, with blows to his body, which were probably produced by a stick or a bat, and with his teeth broken. The apartment had been trashed, as if the assailants were seeking something, but there was not one thing missing.
I was also told that his hands and mouth were also bound by duct-tape, which indicates to me that there was some planning to the murder.

Alvaro's murder has been receiving some international attention - and rightfully so - let's hope that the result is that his murderers are brought to justice.

Alvaro Miguel Rivera Linares in his own words (Spanish):

1 comment:

Some Other Guy said...

Any plans for a demonstration at the Colombian consulate?