On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) attacked members of the National Indigenous Guard (Guardia Nacional Indígena), who were peaceably dismantling billboards posted by the FARC on indigenous territory in Toribio, Cauca. The FARC responded violently, killing two indigenous leaders.
WOLA joins the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) in vehemently rejecting the use of violence by the FARC against indigenous communities, which constitutes a clear violation of international law. Indigenous communities have long declared themselves outside of the conflict, and their autonomy must be respected by all armed groups.
We call on the FARC to demonstrate their commitment to peace by respecting the territorial sovereignty of indigenous communities and cease all hostilities against these and other groups who have already borne the brunt of Colombia’s conflict. While government statements denouncing the attack are important, the Interior Ministry should also dialogue with the communities at risk to identify ways in which the state can better support and protect indigenous groups.