WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
11 May 2010 | News

New Threat against Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and Human Rights Leaders in Northern Cauca

AFRODES USA, WOLA and the Network for Advocacy in Solidarity with Grassroots Afro-Colombian Communities (NASGACC) encourage you to take action in order to guarantee the safety of the leaders of the Afro-Colombian community councils of La Toma and Buenos Aires (Cauca), Black Communities Process, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), Berenice Celeyta (Robert F. Kennedy Laureate), NOMADESC and the labor union CUT (Valle).

Yesterday the above organizations and individuals received a new text message death threat from the Black Eagles New Generation paramilitary group stating that they are going to get them and this time will not fail.

These leaders are under threat due to their advocacy on behalf of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities' territorial rights in northern Cauca. This latest threats follows other threats received by these same persons in October 2009, December 2009 and May 2010. After the December threat, the Colombian authorities met with these leaders and agreed to take steps to address the insecurity faced by these leaders. While the authorities responded to this situation, they did not follow through on all the commitments they made to these leaders. They did not take steps to effectively dismantle the paramilitary groups that pose a real threat to the indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples of northern Cauca. In April 2010, the Black Eagles paramilitaries massacred eight Afro-Colombian miners from Condotó (Chocó) in La Toma and left a ninth person wounded. The recent massacre is evidence that the risk of such threats becoming a reality is very high.

Last year, PCN, NOMADESC participated in a round of visits to the US Congress and an OAS hearing on the right to previous consultation for Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Communities. These groups advocate for the right to previous consultation for Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities in northern Cauca and the implementation of Constitutional Court Orders 004 and 005 in Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities that would help guarantee this right. Last week, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) testified before the Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights that "in 2009 Colombia experienced a 63% increase in indigenous killings from the previous year, with 114 indigenous persons murdered." 

 To prevent further threats and murders from taking place please:

 1)         Urge Ambassador William Brownfield at the US Embassy in Bogotá, email: AmbassadorB@state.gov to contact the Colombian authorities and urge them to act to dismantle the paramilitary groups operating in northern Cauca; guarantee the safety of the threatened individuals; investigate the threats made against these individuals and to prosecute those responsible and to follow through on the promises made to these leaders in the December 2009 meeting.

 2)         Ask your member of Congress (US Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121) to contact the US State Department and ask that they take action to guarantee the safety of these threatened individuals and not to certify military aid to Colombia. Be sure to also ask your Representative to co-sponsor House Resolution 1224 that supports Colombian Constitutional Court Orders on Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and Women Internally Displaced Persons that help strengthen  the territorial and human rights of Colombia's ethnic minorities.

 For further information, please contact Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, WOLA at (202) 797-2171, gsanchez@wola.org