EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 23/66/96
27 November 1996
Further information (2) on UA 431/94 (AMR 23/91/94, 6 December 1994) and
follow-up AMR 23/95/1994, 15 December 1994 - Fear for Safety / Possible
COLOMBIAGerardo Estrada Yaspuesan, indigenous leader
Marco Antonio Nasner, member of indigenous community
Alfredo Basante, member of indigenous community
Amnesty International has learned with concern of the killing of Gerardo
Estrada, Marco Antonio Nasner and Alfredo Basante in Tuquerres municipality,
Nariño department, on 8 November 1996. Gerardo Estrada was a member of the
Junta Directiva (Governing Committee) of the Autoridades Indígenas de Colombia
(AICO), Colombian Indigenous Authorities.
The three men were killed in Tuquerres by unidentified persons at 7pm on 8
November, following a reported campaign of death threats and intimidation
against the community by army-backed paramilitary groups and the armed
opposition group, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), National
Liberation Army. On 14 October 1996, the ELN issued a public statement,
referring to the land conflict, in which it sentenced Gerardo Estrada and other
community members to death.
In the past four weeks, 10 members of indigenous communities have been killed
in Nariño department, as the communities increasingly find themselves caught
in the battle between local landowners - working in close cooperation with
military and paramilitary groups - and the ELN. Amnesty International fears
that other members of indigenous communities could be killed as a result of
the continuing struggle.
The indigenous population of Pasto, in the Nariño region, are working to
repossess lands which they claim are traditionally theirs. As a result they
have come into conflict with local landowners and armed opposition groups.
The landowners, through their military and paramilitary allies, have been
responsible for human rights abuses against indigenous communities in the past.
In the last week of October 1996, a delegation of Pasto indigenous communities
representatives travelled to the capital, Bogotá, to inform the authorities
of the threats and harassment they are suffering because of their land claims.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Colombian authorities have to
date failed to take effective action to protect indigenous leaders and members
of their communities who are under threat and calls for urgent steps to be
taken to remedy this situation.
Gerardo Estrado was abducted by armed men on 5 December 1994 but was released
a few days later (see original Urgent Action and follow-up). It was believed
at that time that this was in connection with his work with AICO.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the killing of Gerardo Estrada, Marco Antonio Nasner
and Alfredo Basante on 8 November 1996, and calling for a full and impartial