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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
October 20, 2020 to January 30, 2021
The spirit of IRTF’s 40th anniversary theme, Memory and Resistance, is seen and felt in the juried artwork expressing contemporary justice issues of our time. The artwork honors the memories of past and present advocates on whose shoulders we have stood and who inspire us to envision a world of peace and dignity for all. Inspired by the martyrdom of Cleveland women Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel in El Salvador in 1980, we will highlight, celebrate, and commemorate our collective legacies of resistance with a series of Memory and Resistance programming over the next year.
Colombia: Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, and Campesino Communities Outline Peacebuilding Priorities for Biden-Harris Administration
January 25, 2021
On January 21, a coalition of Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, and Campesino communities represented by the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) published a statement addressed to the Biden-Harris administration outlining recommendations for peacebuilding priorities in Colombia. The recommendations include: a full commitment to the agreed terms of the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), resume peace dialogues with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and advance humanitarian minimums, dismantle illegal armed groups following community input, enforce agrarian reform, implement illicit crop substitution programs, and strengthen rural judicial institutions.
January 20, 2021
On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order revoking the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline permit issued by the Trump administration. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) and the Fort Belknap Indian Community (Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes) along with their counsel, the Native American Rights Fund, applaud the Biden administration’s action to revoke the illegally issued KXL permit.
January 11, 2021
We wrote to officials in Colombia to urge investigations into the assassinations of eight social leaders across six departments during the last week of December, bringing the total to an astounding 310 assassinations of social leaders and other human rights defenders during 2020. The victims are: Felipe Guevara Henao- journalist (Dec 23 in Cali, Valle del Cauca Department); Fablio Armando Guanga Quistial- Awá indigenous activist (Dec 23 in Tumaco, Nariño Department); Pedro Alejandro Pérez Doria- town councilor (Dec 24 in San Pelayo, Córdoba Department); Roberto Eduardo Parra Ovalle - peasant farmer and environmental defender (Dec 25 in Mesetas, Meta Department); Juvenal Vitonás Achicué - indigenous community activist (Dec 26 in Toribío, Cauca); Luis Alberto Anay Ruiz – teacher (Dec 27 in Tumaco, Nariño Department); Omar Moreno- agricultural trade unionist (Dec 28, between Llorente and Pasto, Nariño Department); Norbey Antonio Rivera - agricultural trade unionist (Dec 30 in Popayán, Cauca Department). We are urging that authorities in Colombia guarantee thorough investigations to find the perpetrators of the atrocities listed above and provide all necessary security measures for social leaders to ensure full implementation of the provisions of the peace process.
Guatemala: Hudbay Minerals head of security pleads guilty to killing and assaults near Guatemala mine
January 7, 2021
On January 6, 2021, the former head of security for a subsidiary of the Toronto-based mining company Hudbay Minerals officially pled guilty in a Guatemalan court to killing a local Indigenous community leader and paralyzing another Indigenous man. This could have important ramifications for two lawsuits against Hudbay underway in Ontario that centre on the Sept. 27, 2009, killing and maiming of the Indigenous men. Mynor Padilla, the former security chief of CGN, a Guatemalan nickel-mining company that was owned by Canada-based Hudbay between 2008 and 2011, pled guilty to the crimes on Dec. 17, 2020, as part of an agreement struck between Padilla and his victims, among them Angelica Choc, the widow of slain community leader Adolfo Ich Chamán, and German Chub, who was paralyzed. On Wednesday, the court accepted and ratified the guilty pleas.
January 7, 2021
Sandra Cuffe in Puerto Barrios
January 5, 2021
The year 2020 was the most violent in Colombia since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016, with widespread attacks on social activists, trade unionists and former guerrillas in the peace process. The figures released by the INDEPAZ human rights NGO make for shocking reading. During the calendar year, 309 social activists and human rights defenders were killed (totalling 1,109 since the peace agreement was signed) and 64 FARC former guerrillas were killed (249 in total). There were also 90 massacres which claimed the lives of 375 people. Additionally, state security forces killed at least 78 people.
December 29, 2020
Another indigenous environmentalist has been killed in Honduras, cementing the country’s inglorious ranking as the deadliest place in the world to defend land and natural resources from exploitation.
December 29, 2020
We are demanding an investigation into the assassination of Lenca indigenous leader Félix Vásquez at his home in La Paz Department on December 26. Four armed men in balaclavas entered his home and shot him in front of his adult children. Félix Vásquez was well-known nationally for his work in defense of indigenous land rights (since the 1980s) and for organizing opposition to environmentally destructive megaprojects such as mines, hydroelectric dams, wind farms and logging, as well as for helping dispossessed communities recover ancestral land titles. He was the Secretary General of the Union of Rural Workers (UTC) in La Paz. He was also a pre-candidate for Congress for the Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE) party.
December 23, 2020
We are deeply concerned for the safety of indigenous communities and their leaders in Cauca, following a massacre earlier this month and the killings of other indigenous community members and leaders. Massacre in Cauca Department: On December 6, hooded men carried out a massacre in the rural area of Santander de Quilichao. They entered a family home in the middle of the San Pedro and Gualandai villages, fired gunshots indiscriminately at six people, killing four. One of those killed was Carlos Escue, a musician who served as youth coordinator in the nearby Munchique Los Tigres reservation. Others killed this month in Cauca: Hernán Eduardo Pino Julicué, the 30-year-old son of the renowned indigenous eader Luz Eyda Julicué, was shot to death in Caloto municipality. Juan Carlos Petins, age 45, was shot in the chest several times by armed gunmen. He was an indigenous Nasa spokesperson of the Nega Cxhab Belalcázar reservation in Paéz municipality. Indigenous Leaders Threatened: Within hours of the massacre, the FARC dissident organization “Dagoberto Ramos Front” threatened to kill more than a dozen more indigenous leaders, including Senator Feliciano Valencia, for impeding their drug trafficking activities.