Patriotic March Activist Murdered by Army

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A recognised local farmer’s leader, Alvaro Queguan, has been shot dead by the Colombian Army in the southeast of Colombia. Alvaro was the vice-president of his local village committee and an active member of the Patriotic March in Nariño, the Department in which he lived and carried out his work in defence of his community.

His death on the 26 April 2013 brings the total number of Patriotic March members killed to nine since its founding 1 year ago and demonstrates once more the need for both increased guarantees for social activists and for an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

The Army attack, carried out by the Pegaso Task Force, came in the aftermath of a confrontation with FARC guerrillas. Whilst the Army claimed that shots had been fired from Alvaro’s house, local residents and eyewitnesses reported that this was not the case and that the Colombian Army troops had shot into the residential area killing the civilian leader.

Another peasant farmer, Victor Sanchez, was taken to hospital, whilst fourteen members of the community, who are also members of the Patriotic March, were detained and accused of ‘rebellion’. Such charges are often brought against community activists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition to instill fear, discredit their struggles and disrupt their work. Due to both the unfounded nature of the accusations and the illegal manner in which the peasant farmers were detained all were released shortly after.

Local human rights organisations have denounced that troops from the Pegaso Task Force have now set-up camp in areas around the village where Alvaro was killed.

Leaders from the Patriotic March recently took part in a JFC organised tour to Belfast, Dublin and London during which they called on the international community to pressure the Colombian authorities to guarantee protection for their members and to negotiate an immediate ceasefire.

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