PBI-Colombia notes UN’s call for comprehensive protection for Indigenous Nasa community

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On October 29, Governor Cristina Bautista Taquinas, the leader of the semi-autonomous Indigenous reservation of Nasa Tacueyó, and four unarmed Indigenous Guards – Asdrubal Cayapu, Heliodoro Finscue, José Gerardo Soto and James Wilfredo Soto – were killed in an attack by illegal armed groups.

Five other members of the Indigenous Nasa community were injured in the attack, which took place in the village of La Luz in the Tacueyó reservation in the department of Cauca.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted this article from El Espectador that highlighted, “The UN demanded from the Government of Colombia a comprehensive plan for the protection of the natives of the Nasa community [and] said that the solution to the violence they suffer is not simply to increase the military presence.”

Al Jazeera reported, “Bautista was an internationally recognised leader, who had represented indigenous women at the UN.” The UN adds, “Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz had met Cristina Bautista Taquinas personally in the context of her work to defend the rights of indigenous peoples.”

Cultural Survival also notes, “Cristina was a traditional leader, social worker, land defender and Indigenous rights activist who was a 2017 Indigenous Fellow of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.”

And Intercontinental Cry notes, “Indigenous guards are elected by their communities and mandated to protect Indigenous lives and territory without the use of arms.”

That article adds, “Throughout both the civil war and the undeclared battle for territory and resources that has followed it–and carrying only the staffs that serve as their mandate of office–Indigenous Guards have been killed by non-state armed groups of the left and the right, by the forces of the state, and by mafias unaligned to political ideologies.”

Mark Hancock, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), was in Colombia when the attack against Bautista and the Indigenous Guards happened.

He writes, “The next day we travelled to Tacueyo, the community where the slaughter had happened less than 24 hours before, and we witnessed hundreds of members from the surrounding communities come together.”

“They came to grieve, but they also organized. More than 600 hundred people, in the midst of such a tragic loss, broke into discussion groups. They talked about the choices in front of them and how to move forward. What I witnessed that day was incredible courage, in the face of a tragedy, I still can’t quite comprehend.”

Justice for Colombia reports, “According to Colombia’s largest national indigenous organisation, ONIC [the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia], 121 indigenous guards and activists have been murdered since President Iván Duque took office in August 2018.”

WOLA has commented, “The massacre perpetrated in Cauca is a direct consequence of the Duque administration’s failure to fully implement the 2016 Colombian peace agreement in an integral manner. In particular, it reflects his neglect of the Ethnic Chapter in the accords, which transversally safeguards the rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and enshrines autonomous self-protection measures for communities like the indigenous guard.”

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia says, “The non-compliance with the agreements is leading to an increase in the cultivation of marijuana and coca throughout the national territory, especially in the northern part of the Cauca province.”

It adds, “Faced with this situation, indigenous authorities and guards in their exercise of control of their territories and autonomy framed in the Laws of Origin, the National Constitution and international treaties and conventions have been persecuted, threatened, assassinated and massacred.”

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