WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
2 May 2012 | Commentary | News

Tenth Anniversary of Bojayá, Colombia Massacre

On May 2, 2002, over 79 people, including children, were massacred in the town of Bojayá, Colombia. On the tenth anniversary of this tragedy, we express our deepest sympathy for its victims (most of which were Afro-Colombian) and call on the Colombian government to comply with international and national recommendations to provide justice and reparations.

Bojayá, which is located in Colombia’s northwestern department of Chocó, has been historically neglected by the state and is a strategic corridor for illegal armed actors. The Bojayá Massacre was the result of an armed confrontation between the FARC guerrillas and AUC paramilitaries. During the confrontation, the FARC launched gas cylinder bombs at a church full of civilians that the AUC was using as a human shield. The massacre led to the forced displacement of 5,771 people to Quibdó, the capital of Chocó.

Despite recommendations by the United Nations, Colombia’s Constitutional Court, and Colombia’s National Reparation and Reconciliation Commission, justice and reparations remain elusive for the victims of the massacre.

Today, ten years to the day since the Bojayá Massacre, we call on Colombian authorities and the international community to support efforts to provide full reparations for the victims of the Bojayá Massacre. We also urge those involved in the conflict in Chocó (i.e. the armed forces, paramilitaries, and guerrillas) to respect the rights of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law, the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and legislation that protects Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples’ collective land rights

For more information on the impact of the internal armed conflict in Chocó, we recommend the following resources:

  • Hostages in Our Own Territories: Afro-Colombian Rights under Siege” is a report on WOLA’s recent trip to Chocó, which coincided with the end of the FARC’s last armed strike in the region. It analyzes the impacts of illegal gold mining, internal displacement, corruption, and the internal armed conflict on Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples in Chocó.
  • Letter from 13 Chocoan organizations opposing President Obama’s decision to move forward with the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement because of its disastrous consequences for vulnerable populations in the region

*Photo by Javier Casella