Repression, racism, and violations of the rights of indigenous communities in Bogotá

13/04/2022

CETIM and Z-Dok.org denounce the repression, racism and violations of the rights of the indigenous communities settled in the Bogotá National Park since September 2021.

PRESS RELEASE

Geneva, Bern, Bogotá, 7 April 2022 – CETIM and Z-Dok.org, in collaboration with representatives of indigenous communities in Colombia, have filed a complaint with various United Nations human rights mechanisms. This process aims to denounce the repression, racism, and violations of the rights of the indigenous communities settled in the Bogotá National Park. Most of them are people displaced by the armed conflict in Colombia or victims of natural resource exploitation projects in their former territories.

This situation has been denounced for several months in Colombia and worldwide. We are concerned that to date, the dialogues between the district and the 15 indigenous communities settled in the park have not had any positive effect. The communities are exhausted after six months of living without decent housing, in deplorable conditions that violate their rights as indigenous peoples, but also their economic, social, and cultural rights (food, health, and housing in particular).

Faced with this situation, our organisations have decided to resort to the UN mechanisms to demand guarantees of dialogue and dignified life, respect for human rights, and the immediate search for a solution to the situation of these families.

In addition to the above, we have received the following information on current events.

On 6th April 2022, serious clashes happened between the public forces of ESMAD, the riot police, and the indigenous communities living in Bogotá National Park since September 2021. According to the publications received, the confrontation started near the national park at around 5 pm. Indeed, after the closure of a negotiation table between district representatives and community spokespersons, no agreement was reached regarding the community’s demands and requirements. Dissatisfied, the indigenous communities called for a demonstration in protest. Under the pretext that the demonstrators were blocking the streets, the police responded with force, intimidating the community with stunners and tear gas.

The confrontation lasted until dawn and left at least nine people injured, including children, seniors with respiratory problems, and women. The community is asking the general public to support them with food donations and especially to call on the medical brigades to assess the health of the children, women, and people affected by the confrontation.

On the other hand, the spokespersons of the community demand respect and publicly denounce the abuses of the Bogotá City Council led by Mayor Claudia López.

In light of the above, we urge the police to stop the repression and the authorities to investigate the police violence that has taken place.

We urge the Colombian state to respect its international human rights commitments, as well as its national commitments. In particular, we call on the municipal authorities to comply with Sentence #36/2020 of the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca. The latter establishes the need to provide and guarantee dignified conditions for the displaced population and develop the necessary reparations. In addition, the authorities must promote the rapid relocation of displaced indigenous communities and victims of violence. This resettlement must take place with dignity and security within the framework of the protocols, mechanisms, and guarantees of the international human rights and humanitarian law system.

Finally, we call on the relevant UN bodies to activate their mechanisms and monitor the situation on the field, demanding that national and municipal authorities respect the human rights of indigenous communities affected by the violations.

 

Contact:

Raffaele Morgantini, CETIM Representative to the UN, contact@cetim.ch, +41796606514

Lara Mabel Felder, Z-Dok.org, lara.felder@z-dok.org, +41791714844

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