Protect Land Rights Activists Who Received Death Threats

foreign and commonwealth office, president Santos of Colombia

Target: President Juan Manuel Santos

Goal: Ensure the safety of Afro-descendant community leaders who have been receiving threats, and end illegal mining on their land.

Leaders of the Afro-descendant La Toma community in the Colombian Department of Cauca have received threats from unknown parties via text. The threats were received by community leader Francia Marquez, and named two further leaders of the La Toma community, Eduar Mina and Jhon Jairo Valverde. Francia Marquez, Eduar Mina and John Jairo Valverde have been engaged in a campaign to protect territorial rights of Afro-descendants in Colombia in opposition to illegal mining and outside mining interests, including multinational gold mining companies.

This is just the most recent in a number of death threats these leaders have received. While the individuals or organizations threatening them did not identify themselves, the threat was signed BACRIN, an acronym very similar to one the Colombian government uses to refer to paramilitary organizations. Previous death threats have originated from paramilitary groups, and tend to coincide with appeals to the authorities to shut down small scale illegal mines of La Toma lands. While the community reached a deal with the government in 2014 to shut down illegal mining on La Toma lands, no effective action has been taken to date. Sign our petition and ask President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia to ensure that the 2014 deal is honored, to protect leaders of the La Toma community, and to protect the land rights of Afro descendant Colombians.   

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Santos

On April 28th, Francia Marquez, Eduar Mina, and Jhon Jairo Valverde were threatened with death for their ongoing campaign to protect their community’s lands from illegal mining operations. The threats seem to be from a paramilitary organization, and should be treated as credible. I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure that these community leaders are protected from harm.

As per the December 11th, 2014 agreement between the Colombian government and the La Toma community, the government of Colombia promised to take action to ensure the end of illegal mining on La Toma land. However, to this date little has been done to effectively end illegal mining on their land. Considering that members of the community receive death threats from paramilitary groups whenever they call for an end to illegal mining, if effective action was taken the community would not be in danger. Therefore, I also urge you to do everything in your power to end illegal mining on La Toma land.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: foreign and commonwealth office

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