> Comunicado de OIDHACO y varias de sus organizaciones miembro ante los graves hechos acaecidos en Tumaco el pasado jueves 5 de octubre

Statement by OIDHACO and several of its member organisations on the serious incident which took place on Thursday 5 October 2017 in Tumaco



OIDHACO and the organisations signing this statement would like to express their deep concern about the incident which took place on Thursday 5 October 2017, in which the state security forces shot and killed at least six small-scale farmers[1] who were taking part in a protest in the area of El Tandil in the village of El Llorente, Tumaco municipality, Nariño department of Colombia.

In the incident which occurred in the collective territory of Afro-descendant communities from the community council of Altamira and Frontera, at least 20 people were also injured. Among those killed were two members of the indigenous Awá People who have suffered several attacks this year[2]. According to the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, based on testimonies collected during the verification mission that this Office organised on October 6, 2017, it has been established that the Anti-Narcotics Police were involved in the massacre[3].

 

These events occurred during a protest against a forced eradication campaign in the municipality of Tumaco. The small-scale farmers were opposing the forced eradication of coca crops, and demanding compliance with the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Crops for Illicit Use (Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito – PNIS), regulated by Decree 893 of 2017. The community had signed a voluntary crop substitution agreement in March 2017, which to date has not been implemented.

 

It is of serious concern that organisations who subsequently participated in the fact-finding mission were harassed by the police Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios - Esmad). To prevent the Verification Mission visiting the area where the events occurred, the Esmad agents threw projectiles and fired shots into the air. It is also worrying that, although four members of the police were later dismissed, the initial statement from the army and police denied the facts, alleging that the deaths were caused by an attack by an illegal armed group.[4]

 

This is not the first time that this kind of killing has occurred during social protests in Colombia, due to the use of firearms or the misuse of low-lethality weapons by the state security forces. During the National Agrarian Strike in 2013, 12 people were killed and 21 people injured by firearms[5]. During the Agrarian, Ethnic and Popular Minga Protests in 2016, three people were reportedly killed by the state security forces[6]. During the 2017 Civil Strike in Buenaventura, firearms and low-lethality weapons such as tear gas were reportedly used against the demonstration, causing injuries to 300 people, including 10 caused by firearms[7].

 

The organisations who have signed this statement consider that these incidents show the importance of implementing the Peace Agreement as soon as possible to avoid further violent conflicts related to forced eradication and the violent repression of social protest. It is essential to prevent, through the implementation of the agreement, these kinds of situation and their escalation into violence, which victimise the civilian population. There cannot be lasting and sustainable peace throughout the Colombian territory in the post-agreement if there are no guarantees for participation and mobilisation during peace building.

 

We believe that these highly serious events could also affect the development and progress of the negotiation process with the National Liberation Army (Ejection de Liberation Nacional - ELN), since this type of violation of the right to political and citizen participation could affect the trust between the parties in the Dialogue Table in Quito.

 

For the abovementioned reasons, the signatory organisations call upon the European Union (in particular its Delegation in Bogotá), its Member States, Switzerland and Norway to:

·         Verify the facts by taking part in a field visit and using other means of consultation and verification

·         Speak out publicly about these serious events

·         Call for an adequate response from the Colombian authorities and follow up on this response.

The signatory organisations call upon the Colombian government to:

·         Investigate what happened with due diligence, bring those responsible to justice, and impose appropriate criminal and disciplinary sanctions on those directly and indirectly responsible for what happened

·         Immediately implement and comply in full with the Peace Agreement

·         In particular, approve and implement as soon as possible the proposed Law on guarantees for citizen participation that includes guarantees and protection for social protest

·         Make progress within the framework of this Law or outside of it, in developing a protocol of action for the state security forces regarding social protest that includes, among other elements, the total prohibition of the use of firearms against the civilian population during protests

·         Comply with Constitutional Court Orders 004 and 005 of 2009 relating to indigenous peoples and afro-Colombian communities.

 

For further information, contact Miguel Choza Fernández on +32 (0)2 536 1913 or at var em = bicrypt('klaustrophobie', 'Im6FKmuX804KcIIs7LI'); document.write('' + em + '<\/a>');">.

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo). Comunicado de la Defensoría. 6 October 2017

[2] For further information, see Asociación de Autoridades y Cabildos Tradicionales Indígenas Awá y Organización Unidad Indígena del Pueblo Awá – UNIPA, El exterminio contra nuestro Pueblo Indígena Awá continúa, 20 April 2017.

And also, Amnesty International, Colombia: Wave of killings of Indigenous people highlights shortcomings in implementation of peace process. 21 April 2017.

[3] Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría del Pueblo). Comunicado de la Defensoría. 6 October 2017

[4] National Colombian Army. Comunicado de Prensa. (last accessed on 9 October 2017)

[5] Colombia Informa: Informe del Paro Nacional Agrario a sus 22 días. 11 September 2013.

[6] National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia – ONIC): Informe de DDHH de la Cumbre Agraria 2016 evidencia la grave situación de Derechos Humanos en Colombia, 9 December 2016.

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