Colombia Support Network (CSN) Statement on Violence against the Awa

February 21, 2009

We of the Colombia Support Network are outraged by the recent attacks upon the Awa indigenous communities in Narino Department in southwest Colombia. More than 20 peaceful Awa indigenous have been kidnapped and then murdered reportedly by FARC guerrillas, in what a FARC spokesman has attempted to justify as retaliation for the Awa providing information to the Colombian Army concerning the whereabouts and the activities of FARC units in the vicinity of the Awa settlements. The Awa are caught between opposing forces in the Colombian conflict. As units of the Army, paramilitaries and FARC guerrillas move through the area where the Awa live and work, they each demand support from the Awa. If that support is not provided, they will harm those indigenous who refuse to provide it. If they do provide support of any kind, they are targeted by the opposing forces.

The Awa have a right to live peacefully on their lands without threats from any of the armed actors. The Army, the paramilitaries and the guerrillas must not interfere with these basic rights. The FARC have violated the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and of human rights. Their murder of defenseless Awa is execrable and utterly unjustifiable.

We call upon the FARC immediately to end their threats, kidnappings and murder of Awa indigenous, and to refrain from incursions into Awa lands. They should submit those who ordered kidnappings and murders of members of the Awa communities to public authorities for prosecution. And we call upon the Colombian government to pursue and dismantle the illegal paramilitaries operating in the Narino region and throughout much of Colombia, and to end Army and Police collaboration with the paramilitaries. And we further call upon the Colombian government to halt the Army’s threats and violence against the Awa and to guarantee these indigenous communities the rights granted to them by the Colombian Constitution of 1991.

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

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