Colombian community displaced: take action for justice


141 Indigenous community members from Santa Rosa de Guayacán, Colombia, displaced

Send a message to the US embassy in Colombia and the State Department to demand adequate protection and respect for activists, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous peoples.

On Saturday, February 11, 21 Nonam Wounaan Indigenous families from Witness for Peace’s partner community, the Humanitarian and Biodiverse Reservation of Santa Rosa de Guayacán, were forcefully displaced from their homes following threats from neo-paramilitary groups. The families fled their homes along the Calima River, arriving to the nearby port city of Buenaventura. The remaining families of the community fled to Buenaventura on Sunday the 12th and are currently being sheltered in a neighborhood. In total, 141 community members have been displaced.

In the two weeks prior to the displacement, armed men harassed and tortured community member José Cley Chamapurri. When the WFP Colombia team visited the community the first week of February, community members told us that unidentified armed men had been active in the area for months prior to the assault, but especially since the recent assassination of human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma Mosquera and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega. Since a WFP delegation visited in September 2016, the community has been living in a situation of confinement by neo-paramilitaries, unable to transit freely in their territory to cultivate their crops, fish, and carry out their daily activities.

Despite the presence of military forces in the area, all of the above events have occurred without State intervention. The news of this displacement causes deep concern at WFP. As threats, violence, and assassinations of human rights defenders, as well as Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino individuals increase in the wake of guerrilla demobilization, WFP urges swift and urgent action to stop the rising tide of violence.

In this context of continued violence and attacks on WFP’s partners in Colombia, we urge the US embassy and State Department to exert pressure on the Colombian government so that:

·         The Colombia Attorney General’s Office quickly and efficiently investigates, identifies, and charges those responsible for this displacement.

·         Responsible authorities guarantee the immediate and safe return of the community to their land, and ensure secure, dignified, and culturally appropriate living conditions for the community in their current shelter in Buenaventura.

·         The Regional Victims’ Unit, the Secretary of Health, the National Protection Unit, and the Ombudsman's Office visit the community and respond immediately to the emergency, attending to immediate humanitarian needs including providing adequate food as well as addressing the delicate security situation along the Calima and San Juan Rivers.

·         Neo-paramilitary groups are completely dismantled throughout Colombia.

·         Military forces throughout Colombia cut any ties with criminal or neo-paramilitary organizations, in order to guarantee peace and security in the country.

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