Indigenous Leader and Mother Assassinated in Ongoing Violence in SW Colombia

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A rightwing paramilitary death squad have murdered indigenous leader Jackson Pai Garcia in the south western Colombian region of Narino. The gunmen also shot and killed Mr Garica's mother , Maruja Garcia Casaluzan, during the attack on their family home in the municipality of Ricaurte on November 16th.

Mr Garica was a leader of the Awaque indigenous group and had received several death threats before Sunday's attack. Indigenous groups in the region say that the paramilitaries are continuously targeting them and claim that 10 indigenous leaders have been murdered in recent months. The paramilitaries accuse the indigenous groups of supporting the leftwing FARC guerrilla insurgency.

Narino has been the scene of intense violence for some time as previously report on here 'Paramilitary/Military Terror Continues Unabated in Southwest Colombia' and here 'The Extermination of Civil Society in Narino'

This month has seen a huge increase in paramilitary death threats and yesterday the United Nations put out a special statement making claer their unease at what is happening. According to the statement the UN are "profoundly concerned about the death threats against human rights defenders in Narino" which they blame on a paramilitary group known as the 'Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia'. The statement also mentions the threats against social leaders and indigenous people and calls on the Colombian authorities to act to defend the lives of those in danger.

In other violence in Narino an attempt was made to kill Afro-Colombian leader Hilda Hurtado on the night of November 10th. Ms Hurtado, who leads Afro-Colombian communities near the border with Ecuador, is the secretary of a Commission that works with deprived populations in the border region. She escaped unharmed though her home was damaged by explosives.

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