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This report was written by Robin Kirk, Human Rights Watch/Americas research associate. Assistance was provided by LaShawn Jefferson, Human Rights Watch Sophie Silberberg Fellow. The report was edited by Cynthia Arnson, former Associate Director of Human Rights Watch/Americas. It is based on a mission to Colombia in June 1994, as well as information provided to us throughout the year by many groups and individuals within Colombia.

Special thanks go to the Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, the Comisión Andina de Juristas-Seccional Colombiana, Defensa de los Niños Internacional, and the Medellín-based Instituto Popular de Capacitación. Invaluable help was also given by Pablo Angarita, Gustavo Gallón, Juan Bernardo Rojas, Carlos Eduardo Rojas, Tim Ross, María Cristina Salazar, Sonia Zambrano, and Sister Trinidad Zapata.

Since much of our research was carried out in Medellín, we would like to dedicate this report to the memory of Dr. Héctor Abad Gómez, former president of Medellín's Permanent Committee on Human Rights. His murder in 1987 remains in shadows to this day, one of the thousands of political crimes that go without prosecution or punishment in Colombia.

"There is nothing those who embrace death hate more than those who love life," Dr. Abad once said. Dr. Abad's legacy is a new generation of human rights activists in Medellín, who continue to look to his example as an inspiration for their work, often dangerous, in support of human rights.

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