Husband of Aída Quilcué, Chief Councilor of the Regional Indigenous Council in Cauca – CRIC. Indigenous press sources have also been attacked.
NATIONAL ARMY REPONSIBLE FOR CONTINUING THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF COLOMBIA.
Statement by NATIONAL INDIGENOUS ORGANISATION OF COLOMBIA-ONIC
EDWIN LEGARDA was working on preparations for the Directors Board of the Regional Indigenous Council in Cauca (CRIC), which should have begun today in the indigenous territory of La Mesa de Togoima, in the municipality of Inzá. He was the driver of the vehicle that belongs to the CRIC.
At approximately four in the morning on the 16th of December 2008, as Legarda was returning from Inzá accompanied by the medical officer of the organization that was leading a health programme in the municipality, both were attacked with gunfire by a squad of the National Army, up in the San-Miguel Corregimianto district of the town Gabriel López, in the vicinity of Totoró and only 40 minutes from Popayán.
As a result of the attack, Legarda was injured, receiving three bullet wounds and several hours later died in the San José Hospital in Popayán. As well as this, the bullets fired by the Army hit the vehicle belonging to the CRIC in 17 different places, showing the scale of the ambush.
For the indigenous people of the ONIC, declarations made by members of the Army suggesting that the occupants of the assaulted vehicle passed over a military checkpoint are completely false. A military checkpoint cannot exist in the darkness of the night when there are no official indications of such a checkpoint, especially since the vehicle is protected by the State.
The facts surrounding the vile assassination of our brother EDWIN LEGARDA are nothing more than an ambush by the National Army on defenceless and unarmed civilians who were travelling along indigenous routes and roads that are supposedly protected by our system of ‘Democractic Security,’ helping to prepare an event that would have mobilized our indigenous authorities. These authorities haveon various occasions been sent death threats from paramilitary organisations such as the so called "Campesinos Embejucaos." [The Raging Peasants]. We have, on various occasions, publicly denounced the National Army including through our National Minga of Popular and Indigenous Resistance.
The Chief Councilor of the CRIC, Aída Quilcué, wife of the assassinated individual, has been sent a number of death threats by paramilitary groups, as have other leaders and authorities from the department of Cauca, and members of the ONIC. For this reason they should recieve protection from the Interamerican Comission for Human Rights. The vehicles belonging to the CRIC are fully identified by the authorities and in this respect there should be no confusion when these vehicles make routine trips along roads in the region.
We should also point out that several months ago during an open Council meeting in Popayán, the President of the Republic and several members of his government branded the indigenous authorities in Cauca as guerrillas, terrorists and delinquents, to such an extent as to offer monetary rewards for whoever may provide information to help capture them.
We the indigenous peoples of the ONIC, wish for it to be made known that we are not ready to tolerate this disgraceful event as another anonymous murder committed by the National Army as part of the President´s "Democratic Security" policy.
These events take place at a moment when the indigenous peoples have initiated dialogue with the National Government within the framework of the National Minga of Popular and Indigenous Resistance. On behalf of everyone concerned, the Council for the Indigenous Government of the ONIC, wishes to make clear that we are immediately canceling all dialogues with the National Government, until the facts are made clear concerning the assasination of our brother EDWIN and until all those responsible are punished in an suitable fashion.
We the indigenous towns, communities and organisations require solidarity and statements from the social, popular and democractic sectors of the national and international community, to tackle the genocide caused by this "Democratic Security." We ask this as our media sources are being threatened: the copper wires belonging to Radio Pa’yumat were stolen, they were taken off air; Radio Libertad had their internet service taken away; and because the web pages belonging to the CRIC, ACIN and ONIC have constantly been attacked by hackers, "we have had to rent servers, it seems that even when it comes to giving information through media sources we have to work together, as part of the Minga."
We demand that the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the Attorney General’s Office, and the other State organizations responsible for control and security contribute in order to clarify and bring to court those responsible for the vile assassination of our brother EDWIN LEGARDA. We demand that the international organisations for the protection and defence of human rights make themselves heard so as to avoid the total genocide of the indigenous peoples of Colombia.
We keep in mind that the indigenous peoples throughout the country are those who face death threats, we have said it plenty of times, but the State refuses to listen to us, on the contrary it does everything possible to justify that those who are protected by precautionary and provisional methods provided by the IACHR (the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights), have these measures taken away, as in the case of the Kankuamo people.
We wish to alert people to the dangers faced by all our indigenous companions in Cauca and Colombia, and we hold the Colombian State and the National Government responsible for any form of violence or abuse of rights affecting the physical, psychological or economic wellbeing of these people.
We demand that President Uribe makes a statement about the facts and makes it clear to the international community that the National Army is to blame for the ethnic cleansing that is brought upon the indigenous people of Colombia.