Police kill at least nine civilians in Tumaco, southwest Colombia

Justice For Colombia News | on: Friday, 6 October 2017

Colombian security forces killed at least nine unarmed peasant farmers and injured around 40 others in Tumaco, southern Colombia, on 5 October. Among the dead was a 13-year-old boy while another minor was reportedly missing.

The massacre occurred following community protests over the deployment of around 1,000 security personnel to conduct forced coca eradication in the area. Local organisations have accused the state of failing to implement crop substitution programmes as stipulated in the terms of the 2016 peace agreement. This has left coca-dependent farmers with little alternative means of sustenance due to an inability to compete with imports.

Civil peace monitoring group Voces de Paz (Voices of Peace) said the killings were 'due to the escalation of the confrontation between authorities, in particular public police forces, with the people in the most marginalised areas of the country where families have had to resort historically to the cultivation of illicit crops to guarantee their vital minimums for survival'.

Colombian organisations refuted government claims that soldiers opened fire after coming under attack from a dissident FARC group. The Association of Community Action Boards, Asominuma, cited the absence of injuries among security personnel as evidence of this version of events being used to justify the killings. It said that the massacre 'shows us the true reality of the unmeasured force against the defenceless peasants who were peacefully demonstrating'.

The killings are the latest to occur at the hands of state or paramilitary forces since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016. So far this year, over 100 people have been killed as a result of political violence, with the Tumaco massacre among the worst incidents in that time.

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