Colombia: Authorities must respect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Chocó

The Embera, Wounaan and Zenú Indigenous Peoples of the department of Chocó have begun a peaceful demonstration in Bogotá, called the Minga* for Life (Minga por la Vida), to demand a high-level roundtable discussion with the national government. In light of their demands, the Colombian authorities must guarantee their right to peaceful protest and undertake to comply fully with the Peace Agreement signed two years ago, Amnesty International said today.

 

“The Indigenous Peoples of Chocó have historically borne the brunt of the brutal violence of the armed conflict in Colombia and, today, this violence has intensified with the reorganization of armed groups, such as the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) and paramilitary groups, in their ancestral territories. Every day, thousands of people and communities are being forcibly displaced; the government of President Duque must take decisive measures and immediate action to protect them,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

Every day, thousands of people and communities are being forcibly displaced; the government of President Duque must take decisive measures and immediate action to protect them
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

“The Colombian authorities must fulfil their obligation to implement the Peace Agreement and guarantee the rights to life and physical integrity of Indigenous Peoples and ensure the protection of their territories. The national and Bogotá city authorities must guarantee the right to demonstrate peacefully in Plaza de Bolívar, without repression and without restrictions. It is shameful that the authorities have sought to block their own people from entering the capital, restricting their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

It is shameful that the authorities have sought to block their own people from entering the capital, restricting their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly
Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

The Minga for Life, a broad coalition of the Indigenous Peoples of Chocó, arrived in Bogotá last Sunday to demand protection and respect for their human rights. According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, police blocked approximately 500 Indigenous people from entering Plaza de Bolívar, where they planned to hold their protest. Another part of the Minga was stopped by police on the outskirts of the city and forced to spend the night there before making their way on foot into the city on Monday morning.

*Minga is a word of Indigenous origin and refers to a broad call for Indigenous Peoples to demonstrate about an issue of collective concern.