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News > Latin America

Indigenous Leader and Activist Assassinated in Colombia

  • "Being a social leader is not a crime," reads the banner during a protest against the killing of activists. | Photo: Asociación MINGA

Published 25 October 2017

The number of activists murdered in Colombia has spiked dramatically since the signing of the peace agreements.

Colombian indigenous leader Aulio Isamara Forastero was assassinated on Tuesday night, close to the Catru Dubaza Ancoso shelter, shortly after armed hitmen reportedly forced him out of his home.

Colombians Launch Indefinite National Strike Against Killings

Forastero, from the Pacific province of Choco, is among more than 150 activists killed in Colombia since the beginning of this year. At least 17 of the victims are believed to have been involved in programs linked to the substitution of illicit crops.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia formally condemned the killing on Twitter, stating that it will closely follow the official investigation into Forastero's death.

The Colombian Indigenous National Organization (ONIC) and the Mission of Support to the Peace Process, part of the Organization of American States (MAPP-OEC), also publicly condemned the murder. The ONIC said the assassination demonstrates that native people in Colombia are being "exterminated."

President Juan Manuel Santos recently said that the systematic murder of Colombian social leaders has risen by 6.25 percent so far this year compared with 2016. Provinces recording the highest rates of violence are Cauca, Antioquia, Nariño, Valle, North of Santander, and Choco.

The murders are a heavyhanded attempt to limit the participation of social leaders in politics, thus impeding the processes of truth-building, land restitution, and environmental protection. In addition to the killings of social leaders, former FARC members have also been targeted.

On Monday, social organizations, campesinos and unions throughout Colombia launched the first day of an indefinite strike to protest the ongoing murders of social activists by paramilitaries and government personnel.

Led by the Patriotic March, the demonstrations highight the lack of will shown by the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos to secure the peace agreement signed nearly a year ago with ex-guerilla group FARC, now known as the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Commons.  

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