January 26th, 2022.
Mr. Iván Duque Márquez
President of the Republic of Colombia
Reference: Human Rights crisis measures in Colombia
Dear Mr. President
As an international human rights organisation, we are writing to you to express our concern about the recent violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that have occurred in the first days of January of this year.
We have been informed by civil society organisations that to date nine social leaders have been assassinated and nine massacres have been identified, leaving a total of 31 fatal victims, as identified in the following table:
Social leaders and human rights defenders
|1||Nilson Antonio Velásquez Gil||January 10||San Juan Medio||Chocó||Communal|
|2||Guillermo Chicana||January 14||Buenos Aíres||Cauca||Indigenous|
|3||Breiner David Cucuñame López (minor)||January 14||Buenos Aíres||Cauca||Indigenous Environmentalist|
|4||Miguel Carrillo||January 17||Arauquita||Arauca||Cultural|
|5||Luz Marina Arteaga Henao||January 17||Orocué||Casanare||Land claimant|
|6||Mario Jonathan Palomino Salcedo||January 17||Carmen de Viboral||Antioquia||Environmentalist|
|7||Wilson Cortes Molano||January 17||Puerto Guzmán||Putumayo||Community worker|
|8||José Avelino Pérez Orti||January 19||Arauca||Arauca||Cívico|
|9||Libardo Castillo Ortiz||January 2||Barbacoas||Nariño||Afro|
As of 23 January 2022, there have been 10 massacres in 2022, with 30 victims.
|January 3||3||Valle del Cauca||Jaumundí|
|January 8||3||Magdalena||Zona Bananera|
|January 8||3||Nariño||Colón – Génova|
|January 17||4||Antioquia||Santo Domingo|
|January 17||3||Putumayo||Puerto Guzmán|
|January 17||3||Chocó||Medio San Juan|
|January 20||4||Norte de Santander||Ocaña|
We have also learned of other acts that threaten the life, and physical and psychological integrity of peasant communities such as the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó  and the Community of the Montes de María  region, among others, as well as social organisations such as the Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation  based in the department of Arauca, and the National Association of Peasant Reserve Zones (Asociación Nacional de Zonas de Reserva Campesina).
According to the reports received, one of the departments that has been most affected by this wave of violence is Arauca, whose civilian population has been affected since the beginning of the year by the continuous clashes between ELN guerrillas and FARC dissidents, which according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has affected at least 1,531 people in the municipalities of Saravena, Fortul, Tame, Arauquita and Arauca.
It is worth noting that in this same department, on Wednesday 19 January, a car bomb attack occurred at the headquarters of the Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation in the centre of Saravena, Arauca, which left one person dead and 20 more wounded. The attack took place at a time when at least 50 human rights defenders were attending a protection workshop.
Similarly, on Saturday 22 January, a group of armed men kidnapped six people in the village of Botalón, in the municipality of Tame at around four o’clock in the afternoon, who were released in good health on Sunday 23 January. At the same time, five people were killed in the municipalities of Arauca, Arauquita, Saravena and Fortul. In all of them, armed men attacked their victims on motorbikes.
Alirio Uribe Muñoz, one of the candidates on the list for the House of Representatives for the Pacto Histórico, has denounced that he found out through members of the Partido de los Comunes that last Friday 21 January, in the women’s bathroom of the Casa Alternativa of that party, of two and a half kilos of an explosive, with reinforced detonating cords and blasting caps, which did not reach its target.
According to human rights lawyer Uribe Muñoz, the night before, Thursday 20 January, a political meeting was held at the Casa Alternativa with the community of Teusaquillo, at which seven candidates – including Uribe Muñoz – from the Pacto Histórico list for the Chamber of Deputies were present.
We also learned of the explosion of a grenade-type device in the centre of the city of Cali, capital of the department of Valle del Cauca, on 20 January, in which one person was injured, and the attack on 7 January on an ESMAD car carrying 15 ESMAD members, 13 of whom were injured.
In addition to these events, the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) warned that 58% of the municipalities that are eligible to vote for the 16 peace seats are at risk of both fraud and violence.
According to the EOM’s risk maps, of that 58%, representing 97 municipalities, 43 are at extreme risk, 44 at high risk and 10 at medium risk.
For these reasons, we kindly request that you, as head of government of the Republic of Colombia:
1. Guarantee the physical and psychological security of the leaders, candidates for peace seats and others belonging to different political parties, especially the Pacto Histórico and the Partido de los Comunes, in the context of the upcoming elections to be held on 13 March.
2. Provide guarantees for the political participation of all candidates throughout the national territory, in the framework of the upcoming elections.
3. Take protective measures for people, social organisations and candidates who require it, without this implying the militarisation of the territories which, as is well known, does not guarantee their security.
4. Consider favouring dialogue with guarantees and the option of making humanitarian agreements with all the armed actors present in the territories, especially in the most affected ones, such as the department of Arauca, to help overcome the current crisis they are facing.
5. Provide comprehensive social responses that prioritise compliance with the Peace Agreement.
Secretary, Colombia Solidarity Campaign (UK)