Indigenous Leader Assassinated

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 27 June 2008

Members of a rightwing paramilitary death squad with links to the Colombian Army have assassinated an indigenous leader in the northwest of Colombia. Two other leaders in the same region, who have received repeated paramilitary death threats, are currently at grave risk of assassination according to the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC).

The killing of Octavio Domico, a member of the Embera Katio indigenous group, occurred at around 9pm on June 26th in an indigenous reserve in the municipality of Turbo, Antioquia department. Turbo is part of the paramilitary-controlled Uraba region where, according to human rights groups, the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army allows the death squads free reign.

Mr Domico, who had spent 17 years promoting health projects in indigenous communities, was shot dead by two men in the 'Dokerasabi' reserve after they had demanded that he give them information about two other regional indigenous leaders Jose Antonio Domico and Fidel Domico. For some weeks paramilitaries have been harassing indigenous people in the area to provide information about the two leaders including an incident three weeks ago when a young girl was threatened by armed men who said that they would kill her if she didn't inform them where the two could be found.

Both Jose Antonio Domico and Fidel Domico occupy leading positions in the regional indigenous organisation and their lives are now thought to be in grave danger. The local community has demanded an investigation into the recent murder and that protection be provided to the two leaders. The Colombian Government has not responded.

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