PBI-Colombia accompanies Indigenous Wounaan verification mission
On August 23, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted, “Today in San Juan after having been forcibly displaced from its territory Wounaan population of Pichima organized a verification mission accompanied by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission and PBI-Colombia.”
A community of Indigenous Wounaan people were displaced from their territory on June 3 and are seeking to return to their land.
Contagio Radio has reported, “417 people were displaced from the Pichimá Quebrada indigenous reserve in Litoral del San Juan (South Chocó). This second displacement suffered by the Wounaan was the result of clashes between armed groups in the area.”
On August 9, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) declared a “Humanitarian Emergency Situation” and stated, “An integral Verification and Support Mission will be organized immediately and before the ineffectiveness of the State entities, which will lead to the restoration of all the rights of the displaced population and the possible return to their communities.”
Armando Valbuena has written in El Espectador, “More than 22,532 indigenous people have suffered forced displacements, 12,066 have been violated their rights due to lack of attention and guarantees by the State, 116 indigenous people have been forcibly recruited, 16 were kidnapped and 11 indigenous were tortured.”
Valbuena highlights, “The current situation comes from the folly to exploit the land and the use of violence as a framework that allows it. It is about implementing extractive, legal or illegal projects that bleed our lives and impose bad death.”
The ONIC statement also notes, “We are currently faced with an increase in the demand for fossil materials and natural commons for the production and consumption of energy of the developed countries.”
It adds, “Public policies benefit transnational corporations which generate serious effects on communities and do not comply in full with the demands of 2016 agreements agreed within the framework of the consultation and the prior, free and informed consent.”
As noted in this PBI-Colombia backgrounder, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission accompanies several Wounaan communities.