CONPA – NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE
The AfroColombian National Peace Council CONPA calls upon the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to make a statement about the assassination of Genaro Garcia.
On August 3, 2015, in the morning hours, the AfroColombian leader Gilmer Genaro Garcia Ramirez, Legal Representative of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, was assassinated. The incident occurred on the road that runs between Chilvi and the small town of San Luis Robles, in the rural district of Tumaco, and in the area of the Rescate las Varas Community Council.
Genaro Garcia was a tireless defender of the collective rights of Black people and the rights of AfroColombian victims of the conflict. In addition to being the legal representative of the Community Council, Genaro held important roles in the Network of Community Councils of the South Pacific RECOMPAS. For more than 5 years, he was denouncing threats and persecution against both himself and the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, which he represented. On August 16, 2012, his sister Yerly Maricel Garcia was killed in the urban disctrict of Tumaco, and according to available information, she was murdered in retaliation for Genaro not having been found. Given his situation of risk, Genaro Garcia was under protective measures by the national government.
Genaro Garcia, given his stance in defense of ethno-territorial rights, life, autonomy and neutrality in the face of armed groups in the territory, came up against serious contradictions with FARC leaders who are present in the district. In October, 2014, he was obliged to attend a meeting in which the FARC notified him that he was being discharged of his role as the Legal Representative of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, and that he would be assassinated if he continued his labours as legal representative of the Community Council.
After this incident, the community members of the Council, learning about the situation, gave their full support to the actions that he took as their Legal Representative, for which the leaders of the mobile detachment Daniel Aldana of the FARC called him to meet on numerous occasions, although he declined. On August 3, when he was murdered, Genaro Garcia had been forced to attend a meeting with the FARC in the rural district of Tumaco. On this same day, he travelled with others by car, and was stopped by armed men who forced them to get out, provide citizenship numbers and names, and then they forced Genaro to drop to the floor with his hands on his head. Two men arrived by motorcycle and one of them shot him in the head and legs.
Genaro Garcia is now added to the list of assassinated leaders of the Community Council: Francisco Hurtado Cabezas, first legal representative of the Community Council (1998); Pablo Gutierrez, president of the Board of Veredal of the rural municipality El Pital (August 14, 2008); Armenio Cortes, auditor for the Board of the Community Council (October 7, 2008). The aforementioned cases were attributed to the FARC and as a consequence of the assassination of Armenio Cortes, the entire Board of Governors of Alto Mira and Frontera, including Genaro Garcia, were victims of internal forced displacement.
The Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, is one of the emblematic cases contemplated in the legal sentence 005 of 2009. Related to this sentence, is the Defense Resolution No.059 of December 29, 2010, and in February 2012, a Civil Circuit Judge Specializing in Restitution of Lands of Pasto, ordered the National Unit of Protection to design and apply a plan for special protection of the leaders and members of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera.
The territory of this Community Council has been under pressure due to the construction by palm companies of a national highway between Ecuador-Colombia. It has also been affected on a number of occasions by oil spills, due to the bombing of pipelines and because of natural disasters, such as the overflowing of the Mira River. In the latter case, there has been no progress on the fulfilment of the commitment to construct 280 houses for affected families. Additionally, this community council, as well as others in Tumaco and the Pacific, face pressures from the FARC, who even gave an order in Tumaco, to dissolve the Community Councils.
In 2008, in the case of the Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, the FARC, in a statement, urged members of the community council, to solicit individual title in the collectively titled property of the Community Council. The strategies used in these and other territories, include the creation of organizations and parallel boards as well as the imposition of land, production and development policies.
What is at stake is our right to organize ourselves, to live life according to our aspirations, in our collective and ancestral territories and our right to exercise autonomy and self-determination, for which we call upon all the Community Councils and the entire Afro Colombian movement and the Afrodescendent diaspora, to support the struggles for the defense of these rights, and in particular, to accompany the family of the companero Genaro Garcia, the Board of Governors and the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera, the other Community Councils of Tumaco and in other areas of Colombia, who in these moments are living through similar circumstances of threat and pressure by armed actors and the policies of development.
The threats to the collective and ancestral territories, to the communities and their ethnic authorities and community and grassroots organizations, require urgent action on the part of the Colombian State, as well as within the systems for the protection of human rights, in order to avoid more damage to the collective life project of the Black, AfroColombian, Palanquero and Raizal people.
The AfroColombian National Peace Council (CONPA) is an organization for the coordination of action among all processes and organized proponents of a local, regional and national AfroColombian order, who share the interest and commitment to contribute, from an ethnic AfroColombian perspective, to the “Roundtable Discussions for the End of the Conflict and the Construction of Stable and Lasting Peace in Colombia” and to the social and institutional processes in the post conflict period.
CONPA demands that the FARC negotiators in Havana, make a clear statement concerning the assassination of Genaro Garcia, legal representative of the Community Council of Alto Mira, and the principle of distinction recognized in international humanitarian law, while also expressing their intentions related to the collective and ancestral territories of Black communities.
CONPA demands that the government of Juan Manuel Santos make a statement about the collective measures that will be adopted in support of the Community Councils, their Boards of Directors and the collective and ancestral territories of the Black communities in Colombia, which will ensure immediate compliance as provided in the sentence 005/2009 and other measures in favour of the community council, taking steps to safeguard territorial autonomy.
CONPA calls upon the System of United Nations, especially the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to promote a true guarantee for the collective rights in favour of the Afrodesdendent People in Colombia, and provide further accompaniment in the territories.
CONPA demands that the Ombudsperson comply with its role to guarantee and watch over the rights of Black People, and in this regard, asks the Delegate for Ethnic Affairs to make public how collective measures for protection is understood, and work co-responsibly with CERREM (Committee for Risk Evaluation and Recommendations of Measures) for the protection of Black Communities leaders and territories.
CONPA demands that the Attorney General of the Nation, the State Prosecutor of the Nation, the Ombudsperson, and the Municipal Ombudsperson of Tumaco, carry out appropriate actions to ensure the protection of the families of Gilmer Genaro Garcia, and the authorities of the Black communities in the municipality of Tumaco.
CONPA demands that the Attorney General of the Nation moves forward with an investigation and a judgement on those responsible for the homicide of a protected person, to which Gilmer Genaro Garcia fell victim.
Finally, the AfroColombian National Peace Council CONPA, insists, to the participants in Havana, that a delegation of Black, AfroColombian, Palenquero and Raizal People be received. CONPA demands that those at the negotiation table create a working subcommission on ethnic affairs, where Indigenous, Rom and Black, AfroColombian, Palenquero and Raizal people can work together for the guarantees of our rights in the agreements, and in their implementation.
“Inclusion of ethnic groups in the dialogues and agreements will guarantee an inclusive and lasting peace”
5 August 2015
AfroColombian National Peace Council – CONPA-