Leaders of the Awa indigenous community on Wednesday confirmed the deaths of three community members reportedly killed in the municipality of Tumaco, in Colombia’s southwestern Nariño department.
After varying reports came out on Tuesday about the possible murders of four to five Awa in southwest Colombia, the indigenous union of the Awa community, UNIPA, made the confirmation in a press release obtained by Colombia Reports on Thursday.
According to the report, two Awa members were murdered on Monday morning in the Mateplatano reserve near Tumaco. The bodies of Juan Carlos Garcia Pai, 37, and Pastor Enrique Garcia, 33, reportedly displayed signs of torture. Both deceased men had families.
The body of 54-year-old Jose Enrique Guanga Guanga was also found on Monday with gunshot wounds in the Awa reserve, Pugande Campo Alegre. Guanga Guanga was reportedly a father of three.
Three other people, identified as pesants or “campesinos” were found dead on Monday alongside the two Awa members and another pesant from the area was killed at 10:00 PM on Sunday.
According to a UNIPA report, the man suspected in the murder of Guanga Guanga in Campo Alegre was caught by indigenous security forces and handed over to Colombia’s national police. However, within a few hours the man was reportedly released.
The report expressed the Awa group’s frustration and they said the release of the suspect demonstrates “a lack of commitment to our people.”
They also criticized the government’s failure to listen to their calls for help.
“It is incomprehensible that despite various allegations we have made regarding the systematic violation of human rights in our territory and the helpless situation of our communities, the Colombian government has been deaf to our calls and their action has failed to transform this serious situation,” stated the report.
The report claimed that the Awa group receive regular death threats on the part of the armed group “Los Rastrojos” for defending the territory the inherited from their ancestors. The Awa community made an appeal to the government to implement effective guarantees to protect the indigenous group and the report reiterated the need for more efficient measures to monitor the region’s conflict.
The Awa indigenous group inhabits the Colombian departments of Nariño and Putumayo as well as in the north of Ecuador and its population is estimated at 15,000.
The three recent assassinations of Awa members bring the indigenous group’s death toll up to seven in 2013 thus far.
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