Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia
April 11, 2019
We are again saddened and horrified at receiving reports of the assassinations of two more social leaders: musician Edwin Andrés Grisales Galvis and indigenous leader Ebel Yonda Ramos.
On March 25 Edwin Andrés Grisales Galvis,age 29, was killed in the Bélen neighborhood of Sevilla in Valle del Cauca Department. He was a member of the Southwest Network of Popular Artists (RAPSO), a regional musical collective which uses hip hop and other styles of music to promote peace and social justice. RAPSO reported a slow police response to the shooting, which delayed Edwin from receiving medical attention. He is at least the third musician murdered in 2019 because of their activism. On January 1, Gilberto Valencia was murdered. He organized peace workshops for youth in Suárez in Cauca Department (cf our letter of January 12). On January 15 Victor Manuel Trujillo was murdered in Puerto Guamo in Bolívar Department. Under the name of Victtote, he sang about peace and human rights.
On March 27 Nasa indigenous leader Ebel Yonda Ramos was found dead from at least ten gunshot wounds in Puerto Rico in Caquetá Department. He was the former governor for the La Gaitana community. On multiple occasions he had denounced the forced displacement of communities in the region. In 2010 he himself was displaced and had returned to his home in the village of Villa Nueva only one month ago. Indigenous authorities believe he was targeted because of his land activism and representation of conflict victims. The zone has a high presence of armed groups because it is a strategic corridor for transporting contraband.
Since the beginning of this year we have written at least ten letters to the Colombian authorities about our concern for the continuing murder of social leaders. We believe that this violence threatens the future of the peace process. Failure to address the human rights crisis will lead to renewed instability and violence in the country.
We strongly urge that you
- conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the murders of Edwin Andrés Grisales Galvis and Ebel Yonda Ramos, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice
- enact urgent security measures for social leaders and human rights defenders, in strict accordance with their wishes
- ensure that every effort is made to fully implement the peace agreement signed in 2016.
Brian J. Stefan Szittai
Francisco Santos Calderón, 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, US mail
Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteuron the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email, US mail
US Senators Brown & Portman ~ via email
US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Gonzalez, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Ryan ~ via email