Two more indigenous activists murdered in separate attacks

Two indigenous activists were murdered yesterday in separate attacks, the latest killings in an ongoing wave of violence against Colombia’s indigenous population. Colombian human rights organisations put the number of murdered indigenous leaders and activists at well over 100 since current president Iván Duque took office in August last year.

In the city of Riohacha in northern Colombia, Oneida Epiayú was shot dead while eating lunch in a restaurant. Four other people were injured in the attack. She was a Wayuu activist who had denounced corruption in government welfare departments for indigenous families. Wayuu communities in the region of La Guajira face appalling conditions of state neglect, with thousands of children having died in the last decade from preventable diseases, malnutrition and dehydration.

In Quindío, central Colombia, Embera-Chamí indigenous leader Constantino Ramírez Bedoya was found dead with a number of gunshot wounds. He was a committee member in a regional organisation which advocates indigenous rights and autonomy.

The killings came four days after Lilia Patricia García was murdered in the southern region of Nariño while on her way to a school founded for child victims of forced displacement. Following her death, Colombia’s main indigenous organisation, the ONIC, said in a statement that ‘we hold responsible the Colombian state and President Iván Duque for the different murders being committed in our territories’.

In response to the three killings, Colombian politician and lawyer Alirio Uribe tweeted that 234 social activists and community leaders have been murdered since Duque’s administration began.

In its latest report on the Colombian peace process, the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia highlighted the shocking violence being inflicted on indigenous communities. The UN has said repeatedly that full implementation of the 2016 peace agreement is vital to improving security across many regions which remain badly affected by violence against social activists.