Police continue attack on Indigenous communities in Cauca, while land occupations grow


Twelve indigenous people from the Nasa community were released yesterday evening following the ninth attempt by the police to force halt the occupation of the “El Japio” farm in Cauca, Colombia.

The police have also prevented ambulances and medical attention from reaching people who had been injured during previous attacks by police. Following the sound of gunfire at about midday, the police announced that the guerrilla were active in the area and had ambushed a police patrol (this
claim is still unconfirmed), and that the “counter-guerrilla” troops from the army would be called in to remove the indigenous communities from El Japio.

On 15 November, President Uribe and Governor Chaux elaborated their plan to “disactivate” the land occupations in Cauca, but the police continued with their arrests and beatings. On 14 November, tanks had been used by the riot police in the eighth attempt to displace the indigenous communities, resulting in the injury of a young man Jose Yonda, who lost an eye. This despite assurances from the Ministry of the Interior that Indigenous authorities would be invited to a meeting with the President on 17 November to try and find a solution to the land crisis.

During the sixth attempt to move the communities, riot police shot and killed Belisario Camayo Huetoto, 16 years old, and seriously injured 32 others, including Gerson Menza who was shot by the police who then tried to cover up what had happened. While the tanks and riot police, following the
orders of landowners, tried to displace the communities from El Japio, another indigenous community, the Misak, occupied the “Corazon” farm in Piendamo. The governor of Cauca responded by organising a “protest” of 20 peasant farmers who blocked the main road in “defence of private property” and against indigenous occupations. At the same time, 100s of landless peasant farmers and indigenous people who had been displaced by the construction of the Salvajina dam, united to occupy the farms of “La Sierra, La Marqueza” and “La Bonanza”.


Colombia Solidarity Campaign adds:

Please send urgent messages to the Colombian authorities (sample message below), protesting the police violence against the peaceful land occupations, and expressing support for the indigenous and peasant farmer communities who are carrying out this urgently needed land reform.

President Uribe: auribe@presidencia.gov.co
Vice President Santos: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co
Colombian Embassy in the UK: mail@colombianembassy.co.uk

Dear Sir
I am writing to express my outrage at the violent tactics used by the Colombian police and army in their repeated attempts to displace the indigenous communities from El Japio and surrounding areas of Cauca. One person has already been killed by the police and many more injured, some
seriously. I urge the Colombian authorities to fully investigate this violence and to bring to justice those officials and military personnel that are responsible for this death and injury. I further urge you to stop all detentions of the indigenous community in El Japio, bearing in mind their just struggle for a dignified existence, that the Colombian government has repeatedly refused to provide. Furthermore, it is absolutely unacceptable that the police have been preventing ambulances and medical attention from reaching those injured by the attacks from the police.

Of particular worry, is suggestions from the police in El Japio, that the indigenous communities are somehow linked to the guerrilla, and that the notorious counter- guerrilla units of the Colombian army will be sent to dislodge the communities from the land. I urge the Colombian government to
cease immediately, all violent attempts to move the indigenous communities, and to negotiate with the people to ensure a peaceful solution, in line with the needs and demands of the indigenous communities.