CSN’S Statement in Support of the Cauca Indigenous Demand that all Armed Actors Leave their Lands

For more than a week the municipality of Toribio in Cauca Department, home to the Nasa indigenous community, has been the scene of fierce combat between FARC guerrilla forces and the Colombian Army. Many indigenous residents have been forced from their homes, injured or killed. These battles being fought over the lands of the indigenous peoples of the area, who do not carry arms or engage in conflict, severely threaten their communities. They have thus taken the step of demanding that the armed forces of the guerrillas and of the Army get out of their lands, and many have marched to the places where the FARC guerrillas and the Colombian Army have their camps, telling them they must get out of these indigenous lands. Noting that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has ordered the Colombian government to take measures to protect the community of Toribio, but that no such measures have been taken, the indigenous community and the Association of Indigenous Communities of Cauca (ACIN) are demanding the departure of the combating forces.

We wholeheartedly support ACIN and the Toribio community residents in their demand that all armed actors leave their lands and cease their military operations in the vicinity of Toribio, including the removal of the bases of the Armed Forces and the FARC guerrillas. And we call upon the Colombian government to provide the protections for the community ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

As a signatory of the United Nations Charter, Colombia should respect spaces for the civilian population such as the indigenous communities of Toribio.

-Colombia Support Network

A Message from ACIN: To public opinion, the guerrillas, and the national government

(Translated by KAITLAN DEVINE, a CSN volunteer translator edited by John Laun)

We declare ourselves to be in permanent resistance until all armed groups and armies leave our homelands. We are at home and we are not going to leave. Those who must leave are the legal and illegal armed groups and armies which come sowing death in our territory.

More than 400 takings of Toribio by the guerrillas plus the deaths, injuries, displacement, destroyed homes, mined fields, lost crops, students without classes, pain, impunity, sadnesses, orphans, widows, threats, targetings and all kinds of abuses which go against life, norms, dignity and justice. This is reason enough to say NO MORE WAR, NO MORE ARMED GROUPS AND ARMIES WHOEVER THEY MAY BE, NO MORE ABUSES, NO MORE DISRESPECT, NO MORE RAPES AND NO MORE INVASIONS OF OUR LANDS.

LET US HAVE CALM, LEAVE US IN PEACE, MEN OF WAR. This is the requirement which the indigenous communities and authorities of the Nasa People determine to make in a collective order to the armed groups and armies who have been fighting in the midst of the population in the municipality of Toribio, Cauca for the past 8 days.

We are not going to stay with our arms crossed watching how they kill us and destroy our territories, communities, Plans of Life, and our organizational process. Thus, rooted in the word, reason, respect and dignity, we began to walk in groups toward where the armed groups and armies are entrenched to tell them face to face that, in the context of the autonomy which belongs to us, we demand that they LEAVE, THAT WE DO NOT WANT THEM, THAT WE ARE TIRED OF DEATH, THAT THEY ARE WRONG, THAT THEY LET US LIVE IN PEACE.

We began today in Toribio, but the people are preparing to move in a peaceful manner throughout the whole territory which has been invaded and present themselves to the armed groups and armies. The idea is to develop the day marches in an alternating manner in all of the communities. We will evaluate the resistance in Toribio and act again if it is necessary until there is harmony in the whole territory.

As this is a risky move given the context in which it takes place, we exhort the public forces and guerrillas camped in the region to detain military operations in order to avoid risks to people who traverse the settlements, bases, and military encampments.

Since Toribio is one of the resguardos (reservations) which has Protective Measures issued by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (ICHR), since last September, the ACIN and indigenous authorities hold the national government and the commanders of the guerrilla armies of the FARC responsible for what may happen to the people, given that never has the community received a response of adequate protection, nor have the measures requested by the ICHR been implemented.

CXHAB WALA KIWE-Territory of the Gran Pueblo

Association of Councils of the North of Cauca, ACIN-CKHAB WALA KIWE

For more specific information see : http://colombiasupport.net/2012/07/odyssey-of-and-peaceful-resistance-by-cauca-indigenous-communities-faced-by-continued-armed-conflicts/

(This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.)

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