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Colombia

    May 24, 2017

    Map credit: www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/colombia.html 

    Residents of the city of Buenaventura in Colombia have reported police repression, including the use of tear gas, at peaceful protests that began on 16 May. Several people, including two children, have been injured. Police and armed forces have a significant presence in the area, and fear of increasing violence remains as protests continue.

     

    April 21, 2017

    The killing of six Indigenous people in the past week raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures implemented by the government to advance the peace process in Colombia, says Amnesty International.

    In the past week, six Indigenous people have been killed in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Nariño, affecting the Wounan, Nasa and Awá Indigenous Peoples, communities who have historically been seriously affected by the armed conflict.

    On 19 April, the leader of the Kite Kiwe Indigenous council in Timbío, Cauca, south-eastern Colombia, was killed after being shot repeatedly by a contract killer while leaving a community meeting. Gerson Acosta had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) due to threats he had received related to his work as a human rights defender.

    Several days earlier, on 16 April, Pedro Nel Pai Pascal, Jhonny Marcelo Cuajiboy Pascal and Ever Goyes, members of the Awá Indigenous community, were killed in the department of Nariño.

    April 21, 2017

    The killing of six Indigenous people in the past week raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures implemented by the government to advance the peace process in Colombia, says Amnesty International.

    In the past week, six Indigenous people have been killed in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Nariño, affecting the Wounan, Nasa and Awá Indigenous Peoples, communities who have historically been seriously affected by the armed conflict.

    On 19 April, the leader of the Kite Kiwe Indigenous council in Timbío, Cauca, south-eastern Colombia, was killed after being shot repeatedly by a contract killer while leaving a community meeting. Gerson Acosta had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) due to threats he had received related to his work as a human rights defender.

    Several days earlier, on 16 April, Pedro Nel Pai Pascal, Jhonny Marcelo Cuajiboy Pascal and Ever Goyes, members of the Awá Indigenous community, were killed in the department of Nariño.

    April 19, 2017

    Photo credit.

    Residents of Puerto Lleras, Jiguamiandó collective territory in the department of Chocó, report threats and raids from paramilitaries near the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo, putting all the inhabitants at risk.



    On 15 April, the human rights non-government organization Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) reported that an unidentified number of paramilitaries from the group Gaitanista Self Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC) entered the hamlet of Puerto Lleras, Jiguamiandó collective territory in the department of Chocó, in north-western Colombia. 

    According to the NGO, these individuals rounded up the community and told them that they were going to take control over the zones previously occupied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), and that they would not allow the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) into the territory.

    March 21, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    Amnesty activists in Canada are joining with courageous families in rural Colombia to celebrate an inspiring anniversary: an anniversary of resistance, hope and the importance of solidarity.

    March 23rd marks twenty years since families in the verdant countryside of San José de Apartadó, desperate to protect their children from a vicious armed conflict, joined together to form a peace community.

    With enormous courage and determination, the families actively asserted their right as civilians not to be drawn into the armed conflict. They formally declared that they would refuse entry into their territory by any armed combatants – whether soldiers, paramilitaries or insurgent forces -- and also refuse to comply with demands by combatants for information or supplies.

    March 21, 2017

    An unabated wave of threats, killings and forced displacement of hundreds of peaceful villagers in north-western Colombia is a frightening illustration that the armed conflict is far from over, months after a peace accord was signed, warned Amnesty International on the 20th anniversary of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.

    “Alarmingly, in large parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is as alive as ever. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have yet to see any difference in their lives since the peace accords were signed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The peace community of San José de Apartadó shows how Colombians have been bravely fighting for justice for decades, virtually alone. They are an example for the fight to protect human rights, so essential to all in Colombia.”

    March 07, 2017

    The forced displacement of 300 people from a community in North West Colombia by a paramilitary group is tragic evidence that the armed conflict is far from over, said Amnesty International.

    Over the weekend, some 200 armed men identified as members of paramilitary group the Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC) entered the town of Peña Azul, Alto Baudó, Chocó, in North Western Colombia.

    Witnesses claim the paramilitaries entered the town looking for members of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army ELN (Ejército Nacional de Liberación) and effectively forced 399 people (128 families) to flee out of fear for their lives. The whereabouts of eight families of these families still remains unknown.

    March 07, 2017

    An incursion by paramilitaries and subsequent armed confrontation between them and guerrilla groups forced a mass displacement of families and the potential confinement of surrounding communities in Peña Azul, Chocó department, in north-western Colombia. The increase in paramilitary activity in the area is placing residents of rural areas of Chocó department at risk.

     

    February 13, 2017

    Credit: Photo circulated on social media by Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia to announce its “patrols”

     

    A group of paramilitaries entered the Humanitarian Zone of Nueva Esperanza en Dios in the Cacarica river basin in north-west Colombia looking for several individuals who they claimed are on a death list. The increase in paramilitary activity in the area is placing residents of the Humanitarian Zone and those accompanying them at risk.

     

    In the morning of 12 February, eight armed paramilitaries entered the Afro-descendant Humanitarian Zone of Nueva Esperanza en Dios in Riosucio Municipality, Chocó Department. They were dressed in black and some were hooded. Witnesses claim that an indeterminate number of paramilitaries are also present in the vicinity of the Humanitarian Zone. 

    February 07, 2017

    A spike in the number of human rights activists killed in the last month highlights the continuing dangers faced by those exposing ongoing abuses, said Amnesty International today as the much-delayed talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) get under way in Ecuador.

    The organization is calling on the government to immediately provide effective protection to at-risk human rights defenders after at least 10 were killed in January alone; nearly double last year’s monthly average.

    “The peace process in Colombia is a bright light at the end of a long and dark tunnel that has already brought some tangible benefits to many Colombians. However, unless the killings of activists stop, this will leave an indelible stain on any resulting peace accord,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “These brave activists are being silenced by powerful local and regional economic and political interests, as well as various armed groups, including paramilitaries, for defending their rights or exposing the country’s tragic reality.”

    December 01, 2016

    The ratification of the peace agreement marks the beginning of a new and hopeful chapter in Colombia’s history, but the real hard work starts now, Amnesty International said today.

    Last night, Congress ratified a revised version of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after the original deal was rejected by a referendum on 2 October.

    The ratification paves the way for the FARC to begin to demobilize and disarm in a process to be implemented over six months.

    The revised agreement offers more clarity on a number of issues, such as on how the sanctions imposed on those responsible for crimes under international law will work. It also forces the FARC to hand over their assets, which could boost the right of victims to reparation. But the agreement remains flawed in terms of guarantees on victims’ rights.

    October 07, 2016

    Today’s awarding of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos underscores the expectation that Colombians will persevere in their search for peace with justice, Amnesty International said.

    “Millions of Colombians still demand peace and justice. Today’s announcement honours not only the initiative taken by President Santos and his government, but many others both within Colombia and beyond who are seeking a path to peace with justice,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “We hope today’s announcement will embolden the parties to continue efforts to reach a definitive peace agreement that ensures the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation and brings an end to the human rights violations that have marked the armed conflict.

    October 02, 2016

    The rejection of the peace agreement in today’s plebiscite in Colombia is a missed opportunity for the country to finally move away from its tragic 50-year-long war, said Amnesty International.

    “Today will go down in history as the day Colombia turned its back to what could have been an end to a 50-year long conflict that devastated millions of lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Although imperfect, the agreement represented a concrete way forward for peace and justice. The uncertainly this vote brings could place millions of Colombians, particularly those from vulnerable groups such as Indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities at  greater risk of suffering human rights violations.”

    “It’s imperative that Colombia does not walk away from this project and that the country continues to move towards the long awaited peace millions are longing for.”

    Read more:

    Colombia: Historic peace deal must ensure justice and an end to human rights abuses (News, 26 September 2016)

    September 26, 2016

     Released 2300 GMT 26 September 2016

    The success of an historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the country’s largest guerilla group, which was officially signed today in Cartagena, rests on the Colombian authorities’ ability to ensure truth, justice and reparation for the millions of victims of the more than 50 year-long conflict, said Amnesty International.

    The peace agreement will still need to be ratified via a plebiscite, to be held on 2 October.

    “Today will rightly be a day of celebration in Colombia. The authorities must now guarantee this historic achievement is not undermined by ensuring that all those responsible for the despicable crimes under international law inflicted on millions of people over half a century face justice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The crimes of those who carried out, ordered or benefited from these abuses, including those in business and politics, cannot and must not be brushed off with the stroke of a pen.”

    September 12, 2016

    The authorities must take immediate and effective action to once and for all put an end to the spate of recent killings of human rights defenders and social and community activists, said Amnesty international today as yet another activist was killed yesterday.

    On 11 September, Néstor Iván Martínez, a member of the Afro-descendant Community Council (Consejo Comunitario) of La Sierra, El Cruce and La Estación, and a leader of the People’s Congress (Congreso de los Pueblos) social movement, was shot dead by unknown assailants in a rural part of Chiriguaná Municipality in the department of Cesar. Néstor Iván Martínez had been active in environmental and land rights campaigns in Cesar, and had also campaigned against mining activities in the region.

    On 29 August, three leaders of the NGO Integration Committee of the Colombian Massif (Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano, CIMA), Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán and Ariel Sotelo, were stopped in the vehicle they were travelling in and shot dead by a group of armed men in Almaguer municipality in the department of Cauca.

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