Target: Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia
Goal: Protect indigenous leaders and communities from paramilitary death threats.
Following a number of murders and enforced disappearances in northern Colombia, indigenous leaders and communities have faced death threats from paramilitary groups. Sign the petition and demand that the Colombian government investigate the threats and take action against paramilitaries.
The recent wave of violence began with the disappearance of Gerardo Velasco Escue and Emiliano Silva Oteca, two sugarcane workers living on the Toéz Indigenous Reservation. Witnesses reported seeing the men confronted armed men near a military checkpoint and forced to accompany them to another location. Their bodies were discovered two days later bearing signs of torture. Shortly thereafter, the paramilitary group the Black Eagles released a statement proclaiming that it was “time for social cleansing in northern Cauca.” After he spoke out against the killings, Alfredo Campo Lectamo, the governor of the reservation, was the subject of further death threats. About a week later, Arturo Andrés Galindo Bastos and Carlos Albeiro Mera Pino, both Nasa Indigenous Peoples, were found dead with a sign on their bodies that read, “For [being] snitches.”
Colombia must ensure that indigenous leaders and communities are safe from threats from paramilitaries and other groups. Sign the petition and demand protection for indigenous peoples and prosecution for paramilitaries.
Dear President Santos,
Following a rash of killings, disappearances, and death threats in northern Colombia, it has become apparent that paramilitary activity constitutes a renewed and very real threat to the safety of indigenous peoples in Colombia. I urge you to protect the safety of indigenous leaders and communities and to bring those who threaten them to justice immediately.
After the murders of Gerardo Velasco Escue and Emiliano Silva Oteca, both members of the Toéz indigenous community, the paramilitary group the Black Eagles released a statement proclaiming that it was “time for social cleansing in northern Cauca.” Alfredo Campo Lectamo, the governor of the Toéz reservation, was subjected to further death threats when he publicly condemned the killings. A few days later, the bodies of Arturo Andrés Galindo Bastos and Carlos Albeiro Mera Pino, both Nasa Indigenous Peoples, were found bearing a sign that read, “For [being] snitches.”
Despite Colombia’s repeated assurances that it is confronting paramilitary threats, violence from paramilitary groups continues to plague innocent people all over Colombia. The government must do more to protect members of indigenous communities and to prosecute those who threaten them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Martin St-Amant via Wikimedia Commons