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Colombia 8/25/2018

Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia

Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia

August 25, 2018

Dear Sirs:

We are quite disturbed by attacks against indigenous leaders in Colombia, particularly in the Southwest (departments of Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Nariño). According to human rights organizations in Colombia, more than 120 social leaders have been assassinated in the first six months of 2018, 40% of them in the Southwest.

A report released last month by ONIC (National Organization of Indigenous Colombians) shows an alarming increase in human rights abuses committed against indigenous communities and their leaders. These abuses are being perpetrated by all of the armed groups, including the ELN (National Liberation Army), EPL (Popular Liberation Army), dissident groups of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), paramilitary forces (Gulf Clan, Black Eagles, Rastrojos, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia), and Colombian security forces.


July-August: Embera Chamí Indigenous Reserve, Pueblo Rico, Risaralda Dept.

Raúl Guasiruma Nacabera, Rodrigo Nacavera GuacirumaMartín Siágama Gutiérrez, and Luis Albeiro Onógama Guasiruma  are being threatened. Since July 9, hooded, armed men have been riding on motorbikes in the Reserve, inquiring as to the whereabouts of these community leaders. The Black Eagle Paramilitary group is suspected.

July 25: Embera Chami indigenous, Bolívar, Valle del Cauca.

Odílmer de Jesús Gutiérrez, social leader and teacher, received a death threat by letter delivered to his home, ordering him to leave within a week or be assassinated.


Aug 10: Guadalito Indigenous Reserve, Santander de Quilichao, Cauca Dept.

Emiliano Tróchez Yonda Camayo was a community leader, shot close to his home.

Aug 19: Nasa indigenous, Tumaco, Nariño Dept.

Holmes Alberto Niscue had been receiving threats because of his work accompanying the Awá community of Gran Rosario Indigenous Reservation. He was assassinated in front of his home, just 200 meters from the local police station, by three gunshots to the head.

Because of these increasing incidents of threats and violence against indigenous communities and their leaders, we strongly urge that you

  • order a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of the two people named above and the threats to the five people named above, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice
  • provide protection to indigenous communities and their leaders, in strict accordance with their wishes



Brian J. Stefan Szittai               

Christine Stonebraker-Martínez



Camilo Reyes, Ambassador of Colombia to the US ~ via fax: 202.232.8643 and email

Rebecca Daley, Human Rights Officer, US Embassy in Colombia ~ via email

Ryan Reid and Christine Russell, Desk Officers for Colombia, US State Dept ~ via email

Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur for Colombia and Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

US Senators Brown & Portman and US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan ~ via email