( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)
The national and international human rights organizations that have signed below salute the National Mobilization of Indigenous and People’s Resistance, and we express our solidarity with the actions taken to win their rights by the indigenous movement that today is gathered in the departments of Guajira, Cordoba, Sucre, Atlantico, Choco, Norte de Santander, Risaralda, Caldas, Quindio, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Tolima, Huila, Casanare, Meta y Boyaca.
This mobilization is happening within the framework of the activities laid out since the year 2001 by the organizations of the indigenous peoples of Colombia, intended to express their rejection of physical and cultural genocide, and the various ways they are abused and the violations to which they are subjected.
In Defense of Territory, Autonomy and Culture.
European colonization, which meant the genocide of the majority of the people, today continues, destroying the territory and the lives of the 102 ethic groups that live in Colombia. The translates into discrimination and exclusion, to the point that currently 18 indigenous peoples are in imminent danger of extinction. Despite this, the indigenous people have resisted in their territories, and today they are marching in legitimate demands for their rights and the rights of Mother Earth.
In the territories of the indigenous peoples there is a confluence of the processes of exploitation of natural resources, which converts them into the scene of struggle by the armed groups, and strategic places for the implementation of economic and infrastructure projects. This damages the autonomy, territorial integrity and collective rights of the indigenous peoples, which includes violating sacred areas, the loss of cultures and the right of free, previous and informed consent.
Despite the fact that the Political Constitution of Colombia recognized the multiethnic and multicultural character of the nation, and incorporates certain rights of indigenous peoples, there has not been a full translation of these rights into concrete measures, and on the contrary we see that the Colombian state has pushed forward a legislative counter reform moves those rights already won backwards. To cite only a few examples, the Rural Development Statute, the Forestry Law, the Water Law, and the Mining Code opt for favoring economic interests and contribute to emptying people out of the territories.
We are highly concerned about the Colombian government’s abstaining from signing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and not carrying out Convention 169 of the ILO, as well as the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.
The systematic and repeated violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples are evidenced by the murder of 1,253 indigenous people and the displacement of at least 53,885 indigenous people in the last six years, a period that coincides with the government of President Alvaro Uribe and the application of the policy of democratic security. Because of what has been previously stated, the great indigenous mobilization is occurring in one of the moments of greatest risk for the survival of the indigenous peoples of Colombia.
We add ourselves to the reasons that motivated the indigenous movement to mobilize, and we indignantly denounce the acts of violence against them that have been seen in recent days. In the first place, we are concerned about the “declaration of internal commotion” without constitutional reasons existing for it, which could be used to restrict fundamental rights and liberties, and bring the participants in a peaceful mobilization to court, without the full guarantees for that. In the second place, we denounce the murder of 27 indigenous friends during the last two weeks in the departments of Cauca, Narino and Caldas, the restriction on free movement ordered by the Energy and Roads Battalion No 1 against the peaceful march of the U’wa people in the department of Boyaca, the aggressions that have resulted in 28 people wounded up until now, the forced disappearances, and the threats and intimidations that have developed against the demonstrators in different places.
Given the seriousness of the situation of the indigenous peoples of Colombia, we express our support for the National Mobilization of Indigenous and Popular Resistance, and we insist that the Colombian government guarantee the conditions for the development of free protest in the different regions, and undertake actions to respond to the demands put forward.
We insist that the offices of power, in particular the Defender of the People, assume their responsibility as guarantor of the fundamental rights of the indigenous peoples, and that they accompany the mobilization that is currently being developed in different regions of the country.
We call on social and labor organizations and popular sectors on the national and international level to join this statement, to stand by the indigenous mobilization and mobilizations by other sectors to win their rights.
We invite the United Nations and international organizations who are present in Colombia to follow up with the mobilization, to contribute to the guaranteeing of the lives and the physical, cultural and territorial integrity of the indigenous peoples of Colombia.
Bogotá, October 14, 2008
CONSULTORIA PARA LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS Y EL DESPLAZAMIENTO –CODHES-
(Consulting Group for Human Rights and Displacement)
COLECTIVO DE ABOGADOS JOSE ALVEAR RESTREPO (José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective)
CENSAT – AGUA VIVA (Living Water, the Nacional Health, Environmental and Labor Center Association)
COMITÉ PERMANENTE PARA LA DEFENSA DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
(Permanent Comité for the Defense of Human Rights)
MOVIMIENTO NACIONAL DE VICTIMAS DE CRIMENES DE ESTADO
(National Movement of Victims of Crimes of the State)
ASOCIACION PARA LA PROMOCION SOCIAL ALTERNATIVA –MINGA-
(Association for the Promotion of a Social Alternative)
CONAP COLOMBIA (National Council of Protected Areas)
ASOCIACION CAMPESINA DE ANTIOQUIA – ACA –(Campesino Organization of Antioquia)
CORPORACION JURIDICA LIBERTAD – CJL –(Liberty Judicial Firm)
COLECTIVO DE ABOGADOS LUIS CARLOS PÉREZ (Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective)
More signatures follow…
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621