Two more social activists murdered in separate attacks

The horrific wave of violence against social activists in Colombia has claimed two more lives in separate attacks. The killings come amid national outrage and mourning over the murder on 21 June of María del Pilar Hurtado, after footage of her young son reacting to her death went viral.

On 23 June, 40-year-old indigenous leader Uriel Piranga Valencia was found dead near to Pital in the department of Huila. He had recently moved from Caquetá to the region in search of work cultivating coffee.

Uriel was previously a senior representative of the Maticurú indigenous community and formed part of the regional indigenous councils in Caquetá. Recently, pamphlets threatening community and indigenous leaders had been circulated, with paramilitary groups active in the region.

On 27 June, Manuel Gregorio González was found dead in Montelíbano, department of Córdoba. His hands were tied and he had been tortured. He had disappeared the previous day after leaving his home for work in the afternoon.

Manuel was enrolled on programmes to replace coca plantations with legal crops, one of the core aspects of the 2016 peace agreement. He was also a member of the National Coca Farmers Assocation (COCCAM), which has seen more than thirty of its members killed since the agreement was signed in November 2016, and of the Patriotic March political organisation.

Despite international pressure, the government of Iván Duque shows little capacity for being able to address the human rights crisis engulfing many regions of Colombia. According to national human rights groups, more than 700 social activists have been murdered since 2016, as well as 135 members of the FARC who were transitioning to civilian life.