Excmo. Sr. Presidente
Juan Manuel Santos
President of the Republic of Colombia
Estimado Sr. Ministro
Juan Fernando Cristo
Minister of Interior of Colombia
We are extremely concerned about the deaths of three indigenous Nasa residents and the possible forced disappearance of two other Nasa residents in the community of Cerro Tijeras, Suárez Municipality in Cauca Department.
The Nasa communities have been resisting the arrival of international mining and other economic interests on their lands. Paramilitaries have made repeated death threats in recent years and months. On April 15, a paramilitary group calling itself Colombia sin Guerrilla, sent a death threat via SMS text message which declared a number of people to be military targets, including those participating in land protests.
On April 15, unidentified gunmen forced themselves into a home in the Agua Bonita area, jurisdiction of Robles, of the Cerro Tijeras Nasa Indigenous Reservation (Cerro Tijeras Resguardo), abducted Mario GermanValencia Vallejo, Belisario Trochez Ordóñez, and Cristián David Trochez and forced them into a truck. Their bodies were found later the same day in the Guadalito area of the same Nasa Reservation. All had been shot in the head.
The whereabouts of Berney Trochez and Wilson Trochez have been unknown since April 14 when they were last seen in the Agua Bonita area. We are concerned that they have been forcibly disappeared.
Since December 14, 2014 indigenous peoples in northern Cauca have been occupying land to demand full reparations, including access to land, as redress for several mass killings, including the El Nilo massacre in 1991 (cf our letter of March 2, 2015). They have accused Colombian security forces, including ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron), of excessive force in reacting to their demonstrations.
In light of these incidents we strongly urge that you
- carry out an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into the whereabouts of Berney and Wilson Trochez, ensure their safe rescue, and publish the results of the criminal investigation;
- order a full and impartial criminal investigation of the murders of Mario German Valencia Vallejo, Belisario Trochez Ordonez, and Cristian David Trochez; and
- take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links to security forces.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai Christine Stonebraker-Martinez