Colombia: Assault on Awá

 

On 11 February in Nariño province, an unknown armed group massacred 10 members of the indigenous Awá community while they fled their ancestral land.  This followed a similar incident on 4 February when members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reportedly murdered 17 members of the Awá people.  Three more people disappeared and remained missing after they tried to rescue the bodies of their relatives. 

CPT Colombia has periodically accompanied members of the Awá community.  In May 2008 a CPT delegation met with two representative organizations, the Organization of Indigenous Unity for the Awá People (UNIPA) and the Council of Awá Elders of Ricaurte (CAMAWARI). 

CPT Colombia asks your prayers for this community as they continue to struggle for the right to remain on their ancestral lands. 

On 16 December, Edwin Legarda, spouse of Aida Quilcue, a prominent indigenous activist, was killed when Colombian soldiers fired 15 shots into his vehicle.  Legarda was on his way to pick up Quilcue in the city of Popayan, Cauca province, as she finished an international speaking tour.

Action:

CPT Colombia encourages readers to contact their State Department and ask officials to insist that Colombian authorities bring to justice those responsible for the death of Edwin Legarda, to take steps to guarantee the safety of prominent indigenous leaders, and to respect the rights to freedom of opinion and association of indigenous organizations.  U.S. residents can urge the Secretary of State to hold up military assistance to Colombia pending compliance with that country's demonstration of respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.  Address: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; U.S. Department of State; 2201 C St. NW; Washington, DC 20520; Switchboard: 202-647-4000; http://www.state.gov