The ESMAD riot police squadron killed an elderly woman and a baby, with unconfirmed reports of a third person also killed, in a raid to displace indigenous families from ancestral land in Leticia in Colombia’s southeast Amazon region. At least 20 other people were badly injured in yesterday’s attack.
The community of around 625 families had gathered on the land seeking to avoid exposure to the worsening COVID-19 crisis in the region. A spokesperson said that the land belonged to indigenous communities but that it had been appropriated by the state. According to reports, ESMAD agents launched the raid at around 4am, using teargas and batons against the community.
It is the latest brutal incident involving security forces in recent months. In addition to multiple cases of killings of peasant farmers, last month police killed up to 13 people in Bogota during public protests over another police killing which went viral on social media. Shortly afterwards, Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled that security forces were systematically violent in violation of citizens’ rights to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.
In February this year, a report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called for the ESMAD to be dismantled or urgently reformed due to its regular violation of human rights, including several killings of civilians. The report also found security forces to have committed torture, sexual abuse and collaborated with paramilitary groups.