Excmo. Sr. Presidente Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia
May 24, 2019
We are extremely angry and very concerned about the murders of five community leaders, including three indigenous community members, which have occurred in the last month.
On May 14 unidentified assailants shot and killed Daniel Eduardo Rojas Zambrano outside his home. He was President of the Community Council in the indigenous reserve of López Adentro in Cauca Department where he coordinated sports and cultural activities. In community meetings he had warned of threats against him. The community had also alerted authorities to the presence of armed groups in the area and threats to other local leaders.
On May 1 Indigenous leader Miguel Ángel Alpala died from injuries in an attack in Cumbai in Nariño Department. Two armed men entered his home and shot him multiple times. He was a member of the Indigenous Authorities of Colombia (AICO). He had recently helped coordinate indigenous and rural protests, known as “La Minga,” which affected large parts of the country.
On May 1 Remedia Aizama, an indigenous Embera woman, was murdered in an attack on the Campo Alegre community in Chocó Department. A 12-year-old girl was injured in the attack, which left at least 40 people forcibly displaced from the community.
On April 26 peasant farmer Andrés Mauricio Roa, age 30, was killed in Ituango in Antioquia Department. He was a member of his local Community Council in the village of Mandarin.
On April 27 two armed men shot Diofanor Montoya, age 64, while he was tending to crops in his garden at his home in Maceo in Antioquia Department. He worked primarily with older people living in precarious social and economic conditions.
Although a peace agreement was signed in 2016, these murders are evidence of the continuing instability in Colombia and the threatening climate for human rights leaders. More than 500 social leaders have been murdered since the peace agreement. According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) more than 60 indigenous leaders and activists have been killed since August 2018.
We strongly urge that you
- carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the murders of Daniel Eduardo Rojas Zambrano, Miguel Ángel Alpala, Remedia Aizama, Andrés Mauricio Roa, and Diofanor Montoya, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- in accordance with the peace agreement of 2016, guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
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 and US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Gonzalez, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Ryan ~ via email
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