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Illegally Armed Group Killed Two Indian Leaders in Colombia

Two Indian leaders from the Embera community in Colombia were killed by the illegally armed group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). John Jairo Dobiama Mecheche was gunned down November 6 in Vigia del Fuerte and Fabio Domicó, was fatally shot six days later on a road in the town of Dabeiba, both in the northwestern province of Antioquia. The leaders, were killed by members of the 34th Front of the Farc, said the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), in a statement.

This is the 19th killing of indigenous people (from the ethnicities Embera and Zenu) this year.

The ombudsman’s Office has insisted on the need of special security measures for the indigenous leaders and the community members in the region. Volmar Perez, the National Ombudsman said that “it is worried about the current wave of violence against the Indian communities in Antioquia.” In a statement, he remembered that they have warned about the risks of the Indian communities in the region through the early warning systems since 2009. So far, the province’s government hasn’t created any security measures for the communities.

About the reasons for the murder, a delegate from the Human Rights Office of the ONIC explained to Indian Country Today Media Network that in this region there are fights between different illegal armed groups to control the territory and there are also some indigenous organizational processes. Domicó was in charge of executing the safeguard plan of his community to avoid the physical and cultural extermination of his culture. His community is one of the 34 Colombian indigenous communities in physical and cultural risk of dying out, according to a decision from the National Constitutional Court.

In its decision (Order 004 of 2009), the Court ordered the design and implementation of ethnic safeguard plans due to the armed conflict and the enforced displacement facing these communities. The Court also ordered the creation of a program to guarantee the rights of the indigenous affected by the enforced displacement.

“We believe Domicó’s killing was part of a plan of selective murders to affect the organizational capacity of the indigenous associations,” the delegate said. Domicó was the vice governor of the Dabeiba’s Indian authority.

Communities in continuous threats

Other members of the community are also under threat. The President of the Antioquia Indigenous Organization (OIA), William Carupia Cuñapa received a death threat in October through a phone call. “Don’t be silly. Stop insisting about the land claims or you will die and will remain underground,” someone said to him, according to the Organization.

Two years earlier, he was threatened by two other people who said ‘you will die for fighting about the indigenous rights.’

Because of this situation, the OIA is demanding the province’s government to declare a state of humanitarian emergency in the indigenous territories of Antioquia.

The Organization is also asking for the province’s government to build an extraordinary joint protection plan with the indigenous authorities, taking on account the cultural particularities of each community.

The Organization wants for its territory to be declared ‘peace land’ so they can have permanent support from the United Nations and the Ombudsman office.

“None of the institutions at a national, province or local level have implemented the measures needed to protect the communities,” said the OIA.

“The situation is even more critical now when the National Government is doing the previous consultations with ONIC for a Law Decree to repair the victims of the armed conflict and return their lands and territories. The murders of indigenous in Antioquia are increasing,” they added.

Colombia is home to nearly one million indigenous people divided into 102 different ethnicities. The nation's Constitutional Court has warned that 34 of those groups are in danger of dying out.