COLOMBIA: The suffering of the Awa continues; landmines kill five Indigenous people
30 July 2007
COLOMBIA: The suffering of the Awa continues; landmines kill five Indigenous
Translation by Julie Hart
During 14-15 July 2007, five indigenous Awa died due to antipersonnel
landmines. The Colombian Army is carrying out military operations against
the FARC guerillas in the Awa territory. These operations have intensified
the conflict, leaving five indigenous persons dead and displacing
communities. A transcription of the communication sent from the CAMAWARI
Organization (Council of Awa Elders of Ricaurte) follows. CPT has
accompanied the CAMAWARI since 2006.
16 of July 2007
The CAMAWARI is once again suffering as a result of the war in Colombia.
Since June 2007, a military operation against the Armed Revolutionary Forces
of Colombia (FARC) has been taking place in the CAMAWARI territory. This
operation has thrown the community into mourning and obligates us to share
publicly what is occurring. The CAMAWARI has expressed its rejection of
conflict and has said on multiple occasions that the fight for the human
rights of our indigenous people is a fight without weapons. Experience has
taught us that the armed conflict primarily hurts the civilian population,
and not the members of the armed groups.
On the14th of July, Juan Dionicio Ortiz Vazquez, the ex-Governor of the
Vegas Chagui Chimbuza Reservation, and Ademelio Pai Taicus of the Guadual
Community, lost their lives to antipersonnel landmines as they walked to
their fields in the countryside.
On the15th of July, Arcenio Canticus was killed when he stepped on an
antipersonnel landmine while working on his land. On learning of their
father's accident, his two sons, 8-year-old Andres Canticus and 12-year-old
German Canticus, approached their father's body and also lost their lives
due to antipersonnel landmines.
The Canticus family had suffered from forced displacement in 2006. They
waited six months, without success, in the town of Ricaurte for assistance
from the state in meeting their basic needs. Finally, they decided to
return to their land, a decision that today we regret deeply.
In response to this situation, CAMAWARI has organized two Permanent
Assemblies in the Reservations of Vega Chagui Chimbuza and Magui, hoping to
avoid future incidents such as these. We request that the Colombian
Government provide humanitarian intervention to assist the communities in
the Permanent Assembly. We need food, pots, blankets, and toilets. In
addition, we ask for the respect of sites where these communities reside and
work. This group includes nearly 600 persons that represents nearly one
percent of the Awa CAMAWARI population of Colombia.