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Colombia: Indigenous people in Chocó at risk of forced displacement

    Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 16:15
    Wounaan community in danger

    Photo Credit: Amnesty International

    Download PDF of the most recent update to UA 178/17 Colombia

     

    Aulio Isarama Forastero, Indigenous governor of the Catru Dubaza Ancoso reservation in Alto Baudó, Chocó department, was killed on 24 October by armed men, allegedly members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército De Liberación Nacional, ELN). The community is at risk of forced displacement following this violence.

    The Dialogue and Consultation Roundtable of the Indigenous Peoples of Chocó reported the killing of Indigenous leader Aulio Isarama Forastero, which occurred on the evening of 24 October. Armed men who identified themselves to the community as members of the ELN had intercepted him. The Roundtable also reported the abduction on 7 October of Jhon Eriberto Isarama Forastero, a teacher from the same Indigenous reservation. His whereabouts are still unknown. The Indigenous reservation is in great danger, as the armed group threatened to kill anyone who reported these incidents.

    The Chocó Indigenous Roundtable reports that despite the bilateral ceasefire agreement since 1 October signed between the ELN and the Colombian government, “to date measures have still not been taken to guarantee the real and effective protection of the communities”. The killing of Isarama Forastero is the second death of an Indigenous governor in less than one month. Ezquivel Manyoma, leader of the Medio Baudo municipality, was killed on 7 October by paramilitary groups identified as the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia), in the presence of his family and other members of the community.

    Given these incidents and the constant threats, the members of this Indigenous reservation face the risk of collective forced displacement. According to information from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), there have been 21 incidences of displacement registered in this department this year.

    Please send a letter and/ or email without delay.

    * Call for a comprehensive state presence in the municipality of Alto Baudó to guarantee the right to life, physical integrity and security of the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in zones at risk due to the presence of armed groups.

    * Request individual and collective protection measures which guarantee the life and physical integrity of Indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders and human rights defenders, in consultation with them and in accordance with their wishes.

    * Seek a comprehensive response from the government in relation to their plans for the protection of Indigenous communities who are displaced or at risk of displacement, in compliance with the ruling of Constitutional Court Order 004 of 2009.

     

    Here is the contact information you need:

     

    President

    Juan Manuel Santos

    Presidente de la República

    Palacio de Nariño,

    Carrera 8 No.7-26

    Bogotá, Colombia

    Email:                contacto@presidencia.gov.co

    Salutation:         Dear Mr. President/ Estimado Señor Presidente

     

    Director of Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims

    Yolanda Pinto 

    Calle 16 # 6-66. Edificio Avianca Piso 19

    Bogotá, Colombia      

    Fax:                 011 57 1 426 1111

    Salutation:       Dear Mrs. Director / Estimada Señora Directora

     

    Please send a copy to:

     

    His Excellency Nicolás Lloreda Ricaurte

    Ambassador for Colombia

    360 Albert Street, Suite 1002

    Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

    Fax:                (613) 230-4416

    E-mail:            embajada@embajadacolombia.ca

     

    The Honourable Chrystia Freeland

    Minister of Foreign Affairs

    111 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

    Postage:        None required

    Fax:                (613) 996-9607

    E-mail:            chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca

     

    Ombudsperson

    Carrera 9 Núm.16 – 21

    Bogotá, Colombia

    Email:                asuntosdefensor@defensoria.gov.co

     

    His Excellency Nicolás Lloreda Ricaurte

    Ambassador for Colombia

    360 Albert Street, Suite 1002

    Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

    Canada

    Fax:                  1 (613) 230-4416

    Email:               embajada@embajadacolombia.ca

     

    Additional Information:

    On 16 August, Amnesty International released a public statement on the situation in Chocó, expressing concern at the grave humanitarian situation in the department. In the first half of 2017, Indigenous communities in Chocó complained that there have been at least two paramilitary incursions in their territories. The first took place on 6 March and caused the massive displacement of families and the confinement of nearby communities in Peña Azul (more informtion). The second took place on 18 April in the collective territory of Jiguamiandó, near the Pueblo Nuevo Humanitarian Zone (more information).

    Crimes against international law and human rights violations persist in the department of Chocó, including the selective killing of members of Afro-Colombian communities and Indigenous peoples, forced collective displacements, the confinement of communities and forced recruitment of boys and girls.

    Indigenous peoples in Chocó live facing constant threats and violence from paramilitary armed groups, so in 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia issued Resolution 004, urging the Colombian government to take measures, with an ethnic perspective, to design and develop a public policy on enforced displacement, aiming to protecting life, freedom and cultural diversity, among other rights.

    Amnesty International has already publicly denounced the increase in the number of killings of Indigenous leaders in Colombia, highlighting the shortcomings in the implementation of the peace process. “The situation of extreme risk which Indigenous communities in Colombia are facing is alarming. These crimes highlight one of the main challenges in the implementation of the peace process: the protection of the communities living in the areas which have been most affected by the armed conflict and the need to guarantee that these deplorable acts do not go unpunished”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International (more information).

    The name Wounaan means ‘people, persons or a people’. The Wounaan speak a language known as ‘wounaaan meu’, which belongs to the Chocoan language family (comprising Indigenous languages from western Colombia and southwestern Panama. The Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics (Departamento Nacional de Estadística, DANE) recorded in its 2005 census 9,066 people who identify as belonging to the Wounaan community, of whom 50.3% were male (4,563 people) and 49.7% were female (4,503 people). The community is primarily based in the department of Chocó, where they make up 84.1% of the population, followed by 15.3% (1,390 people) in Valle del Cauca and 0.3% (27 people) in Bogotá, therefore 99.8% of the population are based in these two departments and the capital. The Wounaan make up 0.7% of the total number of Indigenous people in Colombia.

    The Wounaan community lives with constant threats and violence from paramilitary armed groups. In 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia issued Resolution 004, urging the Colombian government to take measures, with an ethnic perspective, to design and develop a public policy on enforced displacement, aiming to protecting life, freedom and cultural diversity, among other rights.

    Amnesty International has already publicly denounced the increase in the number of killings of Indigenous leaders in Colombia, highlighting the shortcomings in the implementation of the peace process. “The situation of extreme risk which Indigenous communities in Colombia face is alarming. These crimes highlight one of the main challenges in the implementation of the peace process: the protection of the communities living in the areas which have been most affected by the armed conflict and the need to guarantee that these deplorable acts do not go unpunished”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International (for further information).

     

    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email urgentaction@amnesty.ca. In the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 178/17 "Colombia".

     

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