Comunicado en Ingles:
We write to express our deepest concern with the way that Colombian authorities are managing the social protests taking place throughout the country. In particular, we ask that you urge Colombia to exercise restraint when utilizing the ESMAD (anti-riot police) against protestors, investigate and sanction those responsible for abuses committed and to seek constructive dialogue with the protestors’ leaders. Beyond dialogue, Colombia should be encouraged to seek solutions to the issues and problems raised by the protestors.
We are particularly disturbed by the following reports:
The National Indigenous Organization (ONIC) affirms that since May 30 indigenous communities are protesting throughout Colombia. They are asking the Colombian government to uphold the over 1,200 agreements made with their communities that have not been implemented. ONIC notes that of all the public policies designated for indigenous peoples the State has only complied with 2.94% of them. Further, that despite countless meetings (over 1,000 hours of dialogue) the Colombian authorities have not complied with their commitments.
They assert that the following abuses were committed during the protests:
1) An Embera Chami indigenous 26 year of father of four was killed by the ESMAD in Valle del Cauca.
2) Sixty-five persons including children, women and elders of the Zenu, Embera Chami, Nasa, Yanaconas, Misak and Emberas have suffered injuries. One person was mutilated and lost a finger.
3) An Embera child was run over by an ESMAD vehicle.
4) Two Embera Chami have faced judicial charges in Caldas including one woman who was physically attacked by the public forces.
5) An Embera is reportedly disappeared and whereabouts unknown.
6) The public forces are flying above the areas where the indigenous are located and dropping pamphlets that invite the indigenous to "demobilize." The latter falsely labels and stigmatizes these communities as insurgents and makes them at risk of harm by illegal armed groups.
7) In the areas where the protests are taking place the ESMAD is utilizing indiscriminate force against civilians. They are throwing tear gas that has resulted in health problems for a pregnant woman and two kids.
We urge you to take action regarding the situation that is unfolding and the cases mentioned above. Further, we reiterate our concern that indigenous and afrocolombian communities have not been invited to dialogue with the parties negotiating peace in Cuba. Given the special vulnerabilities faced by indigenous communities, sheer number of abuses committed against them in the conflict and their collective land rights it is imperative that they converse with the negotiating table to guarantee effective and durable peace in areas where they reside or are displaced to.
We also recall that the US and Colombia have a special obligation to protect the lives of indigenous leaders.
WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas<http://www.wola.org/>
Cell: +1 (202) 489-1702
Tel: +1 (202) 797-2171
Twitter: @WOLA Colombia