The National Lawyers Guild Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Committee, the National Lawyers Guild International Committee, International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement, Semilla Warunkwa – International Office, New York, ProtectTheSacredNYC, and TONATIERRA issued an urgent Early Warning on May 31, 2021, addressed to U.S. officials, members of Congress, and UN officials and Special Rapporteurs. The Early Warning focuses specifically on threats of crimes against humanity faced by Indigenous leaders and communities in Colombia.
Issued in the context of the ongoing National Strike in Colombia – and its brutal repression by Colombian armed forces, police and anti-riot (ESMAD) forces – the document focuses on threats made targeting a number of Indigenous organizations.
In the early hours of May 30, 2021, the authors of this Early Warning received various messages of distress from Indigenous leaders in the aforementioned communities. One message read (original in Spanish):
“Our situation in Colombia has become very difficult, even members of government have declared us Indigenous peoples to be “terrorists” because of our participation in the national strike. This declaration puts our lives at risk, along with the physical integrity of each of us, our families, our communities, and territories. This also endangers the civil population of Colombia through a law of repression that seeks to silence the voices of the national strike and the minga in Colombia… we feel a national massacre is on the way.”
As human rights organizations based in the United States, we write to denounce the increasing state violence under President Duque’s authoritarian regime and issue an early warning to prevent a massacre of the Colombian people and, in particular, of Indigenous Peoples and organizations such as the Guardia Indígena (Indigenous Guard), the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (CRIC, Regional Council of Cauca), and Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC, National Indigenous Organization of Colombia), which are in immediate risk of violence in the impending hours.