URGENT COMMUNIQUE: Security Forces persecute the Awa people

Association of Traditional Authorities of the Awa – CAMAWARI Organization

We are hereby informing organizations concerned with human rights and international humanitarian law of the persecution of the indigenous communities of Camawari by the National Police and the District Attorney’s office.

Communique 2

May 30, 2007.

CAMAWARI hereby informs the Colombian state and the national and international community of the aggressions recently committed by the National Police operating in the municipality of Ricaurte and the sector of Ospina Perez against the organization CAMAWARI and members of the Palpi indigenous community.

On the 24th of May, members of the National Police filmed and photographed the office in Ricaurte from a pick-up parked in front of the building. At no time did the police inform CAMAWARI of their actions, but instead acted suspiciously, leaving their windows half-closed, with only the video and still cameras visible.

On May 25, in the community of Palpis, members of the National Police operating in Ospina Perez verbally attacked CELIO PAI, member of the Governing Council of Palbi Gualtal, and representative of the Awa indigenous communities on the health authority board, accusing him of being a guerrilla and intimidating him by shooting into the air when he refused to accompany them.

On May 26th, the National Police from Ospina Perez detained ten governors in the community of Palpis. The police immediately called the District Attorney’s office and officials shortly arrived in a yellow civilian vehicle. They asked for identity documents from the governors, took their fingerprints and photographs, and filmed them, transferring all this information to laptop computers that they carried.

In recent days, members of state security forces have been circulating in civilian vehicles, which causes uncertainty in the indigenous community (and violates international humanitarian law)

Since the municipality of Ricaurte has a heavy presence of different armed actors, we are concerned by these actions of the security forces. In the past people have been detained and months later assassinated in unclear circumstances. A concrete case is the massacre of Altaquer, perpetrated on August 9, 2006.

We condemn these actions by the National Police and the District Attorney’s office, just as we have in the past condemned violations committed by the insurgency. As a matter of policy, CAMAWARI does not agree with the armed conflict taking place on indigenous territory, which has caused the deaths of many in the indigenous community, and currently has displaced eighty families who cannot go back to their reserves because of the armed confrontation.

AWA INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES, COUNCIL OF AWA ELDERS OF RICAURTE, CAMAWARI, DEPARTMENT OF NARIÑO

Colombia, South America

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