Armed conflict and forced displacement persist as threats for Colombia’s indigenous peoples, according to a report by indigenous rights organization ONIC.
The communities are victims of human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law, according to ONIC.
Threats, attacks, killings, forced recruitment, sexual violence and torture remain common scourges in indigenous territories, the NGO said.
One of the most disturbing figures in the report is that between May and June this year 2,819 members of the Dobida Embera community in the western state of Choco were displaced due to clashes between the ELN and the Urabeños. The UN had previously said that at least 300 locals were forced to flee due to the violence.
“Despite the orders given by the Constitutional Court of Colombia regarding the protection of at least 64 indigenous people they continue to be at high risk for physical and cultural extermination. This is due to the armed conflict and forced displacement. The nature of the violations reaffirms the ineffective protective measures of the national and international bodies involved,” reads the document.
Between January and September ten people died “as a result of selective murder by the actions of armed forces.” Among the victims were three members of the Nasa people, two of the Awa, two from the Embera-Chami, two of the Embera-Dobida and the Embera-Eyabida people.
According to ONIC, these people were killed for refusing to collaborate with armed groups, denounce human rights violations or due to false accusations. Among the perpetrators of these murders are neo-paramilitary group Aguilas Negras, Marxist rebel group FARC and the National Army.
Furthermore, 36 indigenous leaders have been threatened and “despite the urgent actions that have been issued to the units responsible for the protection of our leaders today, nothing has been done to secure their lives. If anything, less is being done. ”
The presence of illegal groups and the Armed Forces on indigenous land is still causing the confinement of these communities. They are denied the right to travel freely on roads and rivers. The main perpetrator of these actions is the Army, said the ONIC.
“We require all armed actors in the conflict to not involve indigenous communities in the war. We also demand full respect for the rules of international humanitarian law to protect us as autonomous governments and unarmed civilians. Therefore, we demand that the ELN not bind our communities in war and conflict nor intimidate us with threats. For the indigenous people of Colombia peace is not just a word it is a practice that every day we live and practice in the territories, in our cycles of life and all those we interact with,” said the indigenous rights group.
The ONIC report was published just days after the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York, where the Economic Commission for Latin America presented its report “Indigenous Peoples in Latin America”. Governments are required to ensure the well-being of these communities in a world more focused on the extraction of natural resources from these regions than their welfare.