The indigenous Kankuamo community,

                              ‘FROM HOPE TO A VERY REAL HUMAN TRAGEDY’

( Translated by Rolf Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator)

source: OIK (Kankuamo Inidiginous Organization), Jan., 2009

The authorities of the indigenous Kankuamo community denounce the attack that ocurred in Atánquez, municipality of Resguardo Kankuamo, on Dec. 31 and also asks for urgent intervention and solidarity. A grenade explosion killed five persons and wounded another 85 as aresult, many of these seriously, losing limbs, suffering psychological and sensory traumas, in short , this is a very real human tragedy.


It’s common knowledge, both nationally and internationally, that the Kankuamo are being physically and culturally exterminated on a very systematic basis. Over the last several years more than 300 persons have been killed, so that we may speak of ethnocide or even genocide here, which not even provisional measures by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have brought to a halt. It should be pointed out that in July of 2004 this organization has passed the following resolution:

‘ the state is to introduce posthaste all necessary measures to safeguard the life and safety of all members of the Kankuamo indigenous people.’


Although individual assassinations have diminished, there exists to this day ever-present terror and threats of death for our people. We all felt in the night of Dec. 31 that pain and death was coming back once again with this slaughter, and thus also tears and sufferings untold and so unjust. As a result of past and present tragedies


                     regarding this grievous emergency:

1. That as a result of this terrorist act to this date five members of the Atánquez community have died, 85 persons have been gravely injured , who needed to be taken to Valledupar, the closest city during the night of Dec. 31.

2. That as a result of this terrible act four persons continue to be in intensive care, others are awaiting surgery in various clinics and hospitals. Over the last five days, a geat number of persons with physical, psysochological and sensory traumata had to be taken to various first aid stations in Valledupar, including persons who suffered sudden relapses after having been released who then had to be taken back to Valledupar and be readmitted.

3. That various family members who accompanied the injured to Valledupar do not have the necessary financial means to stay there, and that  there are now app. 13 more orphans as a result of this act, in addition to the more than 700 children who have been orphaned as a result of this war.

4. That the state of Colombia should be held responsible in some measure for this act of terrorism that has befallen the Kankuamo insofar as meausures of protection have  been taken by the international community, as a result of which a state of emergency had been declared which in turn should protect life and physical well-being of all members of the Kankuamo community. It needs to be pointed out that just last Dec. 4, 2008, the Colombian government wanted to have the state of emergency lifted, claiming that there was no more danger threatening the Kankuamo.


5. That we consider the statements made by  high government officials that a member of the Kankuamo community carried out the attack as being hasty and premature. We stress the fact that declarations of this sort endanger life and safety of some mebers of the community because family members of the victims may take the law into their own hands. Therefore we hold the State responsible for all the consequences that might be contingent upon this.

6. That the authorities of the Kankuamo Nation have initiated investigations surrounding this deplorable ocurrence, which will be presented to the pertinent national and international bodies.

7. That this terrible occurence, whatever its origins, has reopened wounds brought about by the war, has brought about fear and anxieties in all of the communities of the indigenous kankuamo Nation, especially in Ataánquez.


                     From the Colombian government and Colombian authorities

1. That the Colombian government and especially President ALVARO URIBE VELEZ comment on this terrrorist attack and calls it such, just as he has done very quickly upon other occasions in this country.

2. That the Colombian Attorney General  launch a speedy, efficient, and impartial investigation that finds answers to a number of doubts that surround  the motives, as well as the  perpetrators of this criminal attack.

3. That the pertinent control organs closely and continually supervise the investigations , so that this massacre does not go unpunished  as so many others which in the past the Kankuamo Nation has been  a victim of.

4. That the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare begin appropriate investigations and punish those responsible for the absence of a medical doctor in Atànquez at the time when the attack ocurred.

                 From the  Iner-American Court of Human Rights:

1. That the Court ask the Colombian State to comply with the provisional measures which were put forth in the resolution of July 2004, inasmuch as imminent risks and dangers are ever-ptresent.

2. That the State of Colombia be asked to insist on a speedy, efficient, and impartial investigation regarding this terrible attack.

3. That the State of Colombia be asked to ensure the protection of and immediate  attention to the needs of the orphans, the wounded, and the psychologically traumatized, in sum to the needs of the entire Kankuamo Nation that once again finds itself dressed in mourning, beset by uncertainty, fear, and pain.

                From the national and international organizations as well as civil society in general

1. That human rights organizations be solidary and provide accompaniment, and heed our complaints and demands that life, health and, safety of all the Kankuamo be ensured.

2. That the implementation of all the measures of protection of the human rights of the Kankuamo Nation be continually monitored in the context of this most recent attack that denied the right to life and the right to safety.

3. That the Colombian government be urged to investigate all the facts in a serious and impartial manner.

4. That there be immediate and unequivocal solidarity with the victims, orphans, wounded, psychologically traumatized, and all the persons who have been affected in any way by this act of terror.



Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621

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