A young Indigenous journalist from the Páez people was killed by armed men who were trying to rescue three arrested people from a town hall of the Pioya indigenous authority in Colombia.
Eider Campo Hurtado, who was part of the Pelsxhab Stereo communications collective, was shot when the Indigenous Guard of Pioya tried to recapture the arrested people and had surrounded the armed men.
The Pioya Council traditional authorities said they arrested the men to hold a trial, under suspicions of being undercover police informants. These men had been harassing the community, causing public unrest.
According to the traditional authorities, at least one of them confessed to being an informer for the National Army during a session of the Communitarian Assembly, in which a great part of the Pioya town took part. They were going to be judged by a traditional hearing hosted by the Pioya indigenous government on March 5, 2018.
Just a few hours before the programmed public hearing, the armed men stormed the town hall and “rescued” the prisoners. The Indigenous Guard then tried to recapture the arrested men, failing to do so and resulting in the murder of Eider Campo.
The community declared itself under alert and “permanent assembly” after the attack and hold the National Army, the Government of Colombia and its public forces responsible for the death of Campo and the violent harassment against them.
Colombia's 1991 constitution states that any crime committed in indigenous territory should be judged by their own jurisdiction.
The indigenous authorities called the attack “an act of war against the community and the legitimate authorities, a violation of the indigenous jurisdiction and the Republic's Constitution, and an obvious attempt to stop the assembly and the public confession of the arrested people freed during the assault.”
They also called for support to recapture the rescued men, who are “disrupting harmony in the ancestral land of Sath Tama Kiwe.”
Pelsxhab Stereo, Campo's journalism collective, has actively supported the Páez people in their struggle.
In October 2017, the young indigenous woman journalist Efigenia Vesquez Astudillo was murdered in Aguatibias, Pueblo Kokonuko territory, by the National Police's Anti-riot Mobile Squad.