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Colombia

    October 12, 2018

    One of the threatening pamphlets  Photo credit: www.onic.org.co 

    The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) reported that several threatening pamphlets against indigenous organizations defending human rights were found on the streets and railroad tracks of the municipality of Uribia in the department of La Guajira, north of Colombia.

    On 10 October, several threatening pamphlets against indigenous organizations that defend human rights were found on the streets and railroad tracks of the municipality of Uribia in the department of La Guajira, north of Colombia.

    The threatening pamphlets were directed against representatives of the following indigenous organizations of La Guajira: Wayuu Nation (Wayúu Nación), Wayúu Araurayu, Wayuu Women's Force Observatory (Observatorio Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu) and ONIC. In its public statement, ONIC accused the paramilitary group Black Eagles (Águilas Negras in Spanish), of which the local armed group in the region is known as Bloque Capital, to have issued the pamphlets.

    September 28, 2018

    Protests against the hydroelectric project in May. Photo credit: https://peoplesdispatch.org/

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 88/18 HERE 

    On 22 September, two relatives of members of the Rios Vivos Movement were killed in Antioquia, Colombia. These killings come after several other killings of environmental human rights defenders. All are members of the same movement, and all are affected by the environmental and human rights impact of the Hidrohituango dam construction.

    On 22 September, unidentified men shot to death the nephew of Rubén Areiza, a member of the Rios Vivos Movement (Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia, MRVA). He was returning from a sport event in the Briceño municipality, Antioquia department, northwest Colombia. Another man was injured in the attack. On the same day, the son of a former member of MRVA was killed with a sharp object in the Valdivia municipality, also in Antioquia.

    September 10, 2018

    Erlendy Cuero, pictured above testifying to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, knows only too well how dangerous it is to speak up for human rights in Colombia. Her brother Bernardo (left), equally vocal in defending the rights of much-targeted Afro-Colombians, was gunned down last June. As Erlendy pressed for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, she received death threats.  Deadly violence is ever present. In April, gunmen shot and killed two of Bernardo's sons.

    Such atrocities were supposed to end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and insurgents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yet since then, assassinations of community leaders have increased, not decreased. Every 11 days, someone in Colombia is killed for defending human rights. A frequent target are leaders of Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino communities seeking to defend their land rights in areas of economic interest. Colombian authorities are failing to protect them and allowing the perpetrators to get away with murder.

    Now is a crucial moment to press for action.

    August 17, 2018

    In response to reports indicating that some 3,600 Indigenous people from 14 communities find themselves trapped in the middle of clashes between armed groups in the department of Chocó, in northwestern Colombia, which could lead to mass displacement, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is not the first mass forced displacement in Colombia this year which has specifically affected Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities in Chocó. This is a crime under international law and one of the most serious human rights violations in the context of the armed conflict still taking place in the region”.

    “Food shortages, lack of access to basic services and the escalation of the violence leave the affected communities in a state of vulnerability with an unacceptable lack of protection. The national, departmental and municipal authorities must take immediate and comprehensive action to guarantee their human rights in the face of this situation”.

    July 31, 2018

    In response to the killing by armed individuals of nine people, among them Frederman Quintero, social leader and president of a Community Action Committee, in the municipality of El Tarra in the Catatumbo region, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International said:

    “The situation in Catatumbo is a reflection of the ongoing violence across Colombia. Targeted and collective killings are a reminder of the worst moments of the armed conflict. The authorities must take immediate measures to protect civilians and urgently respond to this critical situation.”

    “Human rights are being violated constantly in this border region of the country, and the state has not ensured a comprehensive presence in order to protect civilians from the ongoing violence. The Colombian authorities must commit to investigating these events in a timely and impartial manner to guarantee that impunity does not prevail.”

    July 31, 2018
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 128/18 HERE

    Seven bodies, all male, were found piled on a road of the municipality of Argelia, in the southwest region of Cauca, Colombia. The bodies are being identified by authorities as they were presumably not from the municipality. In the past few weeks, paramilitary groups have been circulating pamphlets threatening to kill certain groups of people. 

    In the early morning of 3 July, the inhabitants of the rural area of the municipality of Argelia, Cauca in the south-western region of Colombia, found seven bodies on a road connecting the villages of La Belleza and Sinaí. The bodies were reported to have been shot at point blank range with visible signs of torture and other ill-treatment. On 5 July, the authorities were able to identify six of the seven bodies, two of which were registered ex-combatants from the demobilized guerrilla group FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). 

    July 10, 2018

    Colombia faces a grave human rights crisis as a result of repeated targeted killings of human rights defenders, while the authorities look on unperturbed, Amnesty International said today.

    The violence is relentless in the regions of Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó and Nariño, despite repeated complaints from local communities. According to the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, a state body, the murder of a human rights defender is reported every three days. Those worst affected are community, Indigenous or Afro-descendant leaders and those who defend the rights of the victims of the armed conflict.

    “The silent complicity of the Colombian authorities cannot continue. The killing of those who defend human rights is causing renewed suffering in the country and destroying the social fabric of communities that have historically borne the brunt of the armed conflict and are now at greater risk due to the resurgence of paramilitary groups,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 18, 2018

    The new government of president elect Iván Duque, who is due to take up office on 7 August, has an obligation to guarantee the rights of the more than eight million victims of the armed conflict in Colombia and to adopt an agenda of full respect for human rights, including for human rights defenders and historically excluded communities, stated Amnesty International today.

    “Violence continues to be a reality for thousands of people and communities. We are worried that armed actors, such as paramilitary groups, are still committing crimes under international law, including collective forced displacement, sexual violence against women and girls, and targeted killings of human rights activists. This has to change and we hope that the new administration under president elect Iván Duque will be committed to that change”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    June 14, 2018
    In the face of the serious situation of confinement of communities of people who live in the Naya river basin in the departments of Cauca and Valle de Cauca by multiple armed actors, and the lack of presence of the Colombian state, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:   “The Colombian authorities must take immediate, effective and decisive action to guarantee the protection, safety and physical integrity of the Afro-descendant communities and Indigenous Peoples in the Naya area in the face of the alarming seizure of land by several armed groups. This action must be taken in consultation with the threatened communities.”   “In addition, the authorities must provide the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights since 2002. The state cannot allow the people who live in this region to continue to have to live with the constant threat of extreme violence.”  
    June 13, 2018

    One of the bullets shot at the house of Indigenous teacher and community leader Gonzalo Hilamo Mesa Photo credit www.onic.org.co 

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 112/18 HERE

    More than 200 Indigenous Nasa Embera Chamí from La Delfina reservation in Buenaventura (West), Colombia, are currently displaced following an armed attack on a member of their community on 8 June. They are in need of decisive security measures to protect them and access to humanitarian aid such as food, health services and shelter.

    In the early morning of June 8, 2018, the Indigenous teacher and community leader Gonzalo Hilamo Mesa suffered an armed attack in his home with two bullets fired against his residence by unknown men.  Mr. Mesa was unharmed, however this recent attack generated fear and terror among the community who moved en masse from the area and are currently stationed and confined in a nearby school called Technical-Husbandry Educational Institution (Institución Educativa Técnico Agropecuaria, NACHASIN). 

    June 06, 2018

    Today Amnesty International sent an open letter to the presidential candidates in Colombia’s run-off election to express its main concerns regarding human rights in the country and urge the candidates to strengthen their commitment to this issue.

    The organization believes that the country is at a historic juncture and that the next government's commitment to guaranteeing the rights of segments of the population that have historically been affected by violence and ensuring the sustainability of the process of building lasting peace will be crucial.

    Amnesty International considers it essential for the two remaining candidates in the 17 June elections to commit to: guaranteeing the human rights of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Colombian communities; protecting human rights defenders; guaranteeing the rights of victims of the armed conflict to truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition; and ensuring that the state as a whole dismantles any paramilitary structures that still exist despite the demobilization processes that began in 2005.

    May 29, 2018

    JOINT RELEASE OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CANADA   PEN CANADA   TORONTO ASSOCIATION FOR DEMOCRACY IN CHINA

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China jointly announced today the kickoff of the Liu Xiaobo Memorial project to erect a bronze sculpture of an empty chair to commemorate his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.

    Liu Xiaobo was a writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment. 

    Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. At the award ceremony in Oslo, the award was presented to an empty chair. In 2017, Liu became the second Nobel Peace Laureate to die in state custody.

    April 13, 2018

    Following the killing of Doris Valenzuela, Colombian human rights defender, in Murcia, Spain, on 11 April, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is with great sadness that we received the terrible news of the death of the brave human rights defender Doris Valenzuela, who was forced to leave Colombia due to a lack of guarantees for her and her family’s safety, and who sadly died in Spain as a result of gender-based violence.

    “It is unacceptable that women defenders continue to suffer double violence: for being activists and for being women, with that violence often coming from those closest to them. It is imperative that the Colombian state guarantee effective protection of women human rights defenders through differentiated measures with a gender perspective, so that cases like that of Doris do not happen again.”

    March 23, 2018

    In an open letter to Cheryl Urban, Director General of the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, Amnesty International Canada notified the Department it will no longer make submissions to the annual report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and Colombia.

    The organization cited serious concerns with the Department’s methodology which fundamentally undermines the credibility of the process, including by failing to assess some of the most significant trade-related human rights concerns in Colombia. Instead, “the Government of Canada chooses to interpret its human rights reporting responsibilities in a limited and restrictive manner that ignores and overlooks pressing human rights concerns directly related to critical trade, investment and business policy and activities that are encouraged, promoted and furthered by the [Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement],” the Open Letter reads.

    March 20, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the murder of Javier Bernardo Cuero Ortíz, son of Bernardo Cuero Bravo, on 19 March 2018 in the city of Tumaco, southern Colombia. His brother Silvio Dubán Ortíz was also killed during the events.

    Javier Bernardo and his family were sitting outside of a relative's store, when two unidentified individuals approached them on a motorcycle and fired directly at them, killing them both and wounding one more person. Amnesty International has received reports that the murderers aimed directly at Cuero's relatives, a sign that it was a planned event and that the rest of the family could still be at risk.

    The murder of Javier Bernardo took place just nine months after the murder of his father Bernardo Cuero, human rights defender and victims’ leader of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) in June 2017. The murders occurred just weeks after the trial hearing set to press charges against the perpetrators of the crime, and there is evidence regarding the intellectual perpetrators of this crime.

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