A human rights prosecutor ordered the arrested of an officer in the Colombian Armed Forces for his alleged role in the killing of five indigenous Awa Indians.
Lieutenant Alberto Williams Echeverry was given a detention without bail for his involvement in the deaths of the five Indians on August 9, 2006. The Lieutenant then attempted to pass the dead Awa off as FARC guerrillas ‘killed in combat’, reported Colombian media on Wednesday.
Allegedly also linked to the killings is Army Sergeant Alexander Guerrero Castellanos.
In August 2009, 12 indigenous Indians were slaughtered while sheltering in a supposed ‘safe house’ in a region about 700km southwest fo the Colombian capital, Bogota. Members of the tribe to which these 12 belonged have repeatedly claimed that they were being targeted because they had witnessed the murder of one of their community at the hands of the Army.
However, Colombian authorities have denounced the FARC guerrilla force and the drug traffickers as those responsible for attacks on the indigenous population.
There are currently 102 indigenous tribes living throughout Colombia – their communities and culture are supposedly protected by the national government.
At present the majority of the Awa, one of the tribes to have suffered most as a result of the Colombian Armed Conflict, are concentrated across 21 sheltered settlements in the south of the country. The Awa, along with innumerable others throughout Latin America are at a serious risk of disappearing altogether due to civil conflict and exploitation and disregard for their basic rights.