(Bogota; Paris) (Author: FIDH) [10/17/2008]

Sábado 18 de octubre de 2008, por FIDH

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) repudiates the violent repression of the protest carried out by the indigenous communities in several departments of Colombia, which as of October 16 had resulted in one indigenous person dead, more than 100 wounded -many gravely-, and 8 families being evicted.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) repudiates the violent repression of the protest carried out by the indigenous communities in several departments of Colombia, which as of October 16 had resulted in one indigenous person dead, more than 100 wounded -many gravely-, and 8 families being evicted. [1] 19 police officers had also been wounded.

Since October 11, approximately 10,000 indigenous persons have been mobilized throughout the country to celebrate the "Minga for Social and Community Resistance" in order to remember the anniversary of the landing of the Spanish on the American continent and to request the respect for their fundamental rights, beginning with their right to life [2] and the reestablishment of their territorial rights, in accordance with the commitments of the Colombian government before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. [3]

The Indigenous Communities concentrated in La María, an indigenous reservation declared a territory of peace and co-existence by the Colombian government in 1999 (municipality of Piendamó, located in the center of the department of Cauca), as well as along the Pan-American Highway. Since October 13, a contingent of at least 1000 armed men (including personnel from the national police, the anti-riot police -ESMAD-, and the national army) have been present in Cauca, supported by armored cars and helicopters. On October 14, General Páez Varón issued an ultimatum to protestors to disperse from the highway, warning that otherwise they would be forcibly cleared. He also asserted the movement was infiltrated by the FARC, which later was refuted by indigenous leaders. In the early morning of October 15, the protestors were assaulted with rifles, tear gas, and hand grenades, which caused the death of one person and wounded dozens more. On previous days, several persons had also been wounded and four arbitrarily detained.

The FIDH repudiates this disproportionate use of force and expresses its profound concern for the reports of armed civilians protected by the police shooting at the protestors from the mountainside, as well as for the acts of barbarity committed by members of ESMAD, which resulted gravely wounding an indigenous person with a machete. They had also left this person on the ground for several hours and impeded the arrival of ambulances to assist him. The FIDH also denounces the attack perpetrated by the armed forces against the health center and the destruction of first aid kits being used by indigenous persons to assist the wounded, as well as for having impeded the arrival of an ambulance and obstructing the work of medical staff and human rights defenders. The destruction of several houses belonging to indigenous persons is also repudiated.

The FIDH recalls that these grave events occur within a general context of grave, systematic and repeated violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in Colombia. In the last month, 29 indigenous persons were murdered, [4] and over the last six years more than 1,240 indigenous persons have been murdered in Colombia [5] and at least 53,885 displaced. [6] Within this context, we are also deeply concerned by the statements made by senior government authorities, including the President of Colombia, according to whom terrorists have infiltrated the protestors. [7] In this respect, it has also been reported two members of military intelligence were found with camouflage uniforms, two-way radios, and a weapons and explosive manual. They were retained inside of the La Maria reservation and turned over to the commission made up of the United Nations and State control agencies. These accusations and manipulations open the possibility for even more ferocious repression.

In this respect, the FIDH recalls that on days prior to the march the Embera Chami indigenous persons Luz Marina Morales, Mauricio Largo Bañol and Cesar Largo Alarcon were massacred -and the 70-year-old Maria Angelica Alcarcon was wounded- by the paramilitary structure called « Black Eagles ». The same situation has occurred in the Department of Cauca where in the past days 11 Paez indigenous persons have been murdered, including Nicolás Valencia Lemus, Celestino Rivera, César Hurtado Tróchez, and former senior advisor of CRIC Raul Mendoza, on September 28, 2008. One month before the mobilization, the Paez had received death threats from the same paramilitary group, as well as the announcement of an extermination during the march, incidents which coincided with the resignation of Juan José Cháux Mosquera, former governor of Cauca and ambassador in the Dominican Republic, due to his alleged ties with paramilitarism in Colombia. [8]

The FIDH urges President Uribe to agree to the request for dialogue formulated since October 9 by the indigenous communities that demand the guarantee of their fundamental rights, beginning with the right to life, respect for their territory, and the immediate cessation of armed operations against the social mobilizations carried out by indigenous communities and peasants. The FIDH also requests for these incidents to be the object of a prompt and impartial investigation and to punish the authors of these crimes. Likewise, it calls upon the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo) and the Inspector General’s Office (Procuraduria General de la Nación) to be present in the affected area.

The FIDH calls upon the international community to urgently send and international mission to investigate these graves events. This is essential since the mass media has not been able to reach said areas.


[1In the following distribution: Department of Cauca, one indigenous person murdered, 89 gravely wounded, 7 of them by gunfire, 17 by explosive devices, and 21 by machete, 8 families evicted and attempted violation of a minor. Department of Valle 26 indigenous persons wounded. Department of Risaralda 14 indigenous persons wounded by the Colombian public force (Sources: Autoridad Nacional de Gobierno Indígena - ONIC and Sistema de Información Nacional sobre Derechos Humanos - SINDH; Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas en el Norte del Cauca (ACIN), Saldo de la Barbabarie cometida en la María Piendamó, October 16, 2008,

[2Likewise, requests have been made for special measures to be implemented urgently and in a coordinated fashion with the indigenous authorities insofar as the present grave humanitarian crisis, especially for those communities and peoples facing extinction, as well as measures to overcome the impunity of grave human rights violations.

[3Several agreements were signed between indigenous communities and the Colombian government, including the collective reparation of land the Colombian State Colombia promised to turn over to indigenous communities in Cauca, within the framework of the process for a friendly solution signed before the IACHR, for the massacre committed on December 16, 1991, in which 20 Paez indigenous persons were murdered in the municipality of Caloto (Cauca), and the responsibility for which was attributed to members of the national police and paramilitary structures.


[5From January 1, 2002, and October 15, 2008 (ONIC, Las cifras del genocidio contra los pueblos Indígenas de Colombia. October 2008).

[6Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI).

[7See discourse presented by President Uribe at the press conference this past Wednesday « Diálogo, sí; violencia y bloqueos, de ninguna manera: Presidente Álvaro Uribe », October 15, 2008,

[8See: Radio Caracol, Fiscalía investigará a Juan José Chaux, September 16, 2008


Afiliado a la Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos
y la Organización Mundial contra la Tortura
Estatus Consultivo en la OEA

José Alvear Restrepo

Nace en Medellín el 1 de julio de 1913 en el seno de una familia de profundas convicciones religiosas y bajo los parámetros de la ideología del partido conservador. Realiza sus estudios en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Antioquia, donde se gradúa de Abogado con una brillante tesis titulada: "Conflictos del trabajo: la huelga"

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