Today, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the US Office on Colombia (USOC) supported the participation of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) in the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Hearing on "The Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Latin America."
At this hearing, Dario Mejia from the ONIC affirmed that "more that 80% of [indigenous] territories have been conceded for the implementation of economic projects without respect for our right to previous consultation." Indigenous communities in Colombia are frequently victims of forced displacement. According to Mejia, "between 2002 and 2008, over 70,000 indigenous people were registered for individual or collective internal displacement; in 2009 alone, 6,201 indigenous people were violently expelled from their ancestral homelands." Mejia exclaimed that "We are worried about the role of the United States in supporting policies that affect our cultures and can put our existence at risk."
He noted that US support of fumigations and Colombia's democratic security policy is leading to serious violations of the rights indigenous communities. As such, the ONIC "is very pleased to see the introduction of House Resolution 1224 by Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia on Recognizing and honoring the important work that Colombia's Constitutional Court has done on behalf of Colombia's internally displaced persons, especially indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, and women. [The ONIC] hopes that all Members of the US Congress co-sponsor this resolution and that the House of Representatives passes it soon."
Read the full testimony here.