Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective Condemns the recent attacks against Campesino organizers and human rights defenders in Miranda, Cauca. As we mourn their loss, we also draw attention to their murders as part of the systematic violence faced by all human rights defenders in Colombia, disproportionately faced by indigenous, Campesino and Afro-Colombian activists. Ongoing violence and political persecution is used to dissuade organizing and activism that threatens the interests of big business and illegal armed groups.
On February 16th, Albeiro Silva Mosquera, and his brother Luis Hugo Silva Mosquera, were brutally murdered by a group of six armed men, while conducting their work as community organizers in the municipality of Miranda, Cauca. The attack also left indigenous leader and activist, Daniel Remigio, badly injured.
Albeiro Silva Mosquera, Luis Hugo Silva Mosquera, and Daniel Remigio were rushed to the hospital. Both Albeiro Silva Mosquera and Luis Hugo Silva Mosquera, succumbed to their injuries before doctors could intervene. Daniel Remigio was transferred to the municipal hospital of Santiago de Cali.
The group of armed men fled the scene on motorcycles. After the shooting took place, the Indigenous Guard was activated. The men threatened a group of unarmed Indigenous Guards in order to escape.
Since January 2020, at least 27 Colombian social leaders have been killed, nearly one every 24 hours. There have been several documented cases of forced disappearance and torture, as well as kidnappings and the use of excessive force against Campesino, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities and leaders. The Colombian State security forces has been implicated in many of the human rights abuses that have occurred since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement, such as the assassination of demobilized FARC combatants.
Still, the United States continues to back the Colombian Armed Forces and have backed its current militarization policy in communities like Miranda, Cauca with no improvement in security for at-risk human rights defenders. The Embassy also supports the Public Ministry, the state prosecutors' office, which has criminalized protesters while the security forces involved in the murder, disappearance, and torture of social leaders continue in impunity.
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective’s Colombia International Team accompanied members of FENSUAGRO, PUPSOC, and ANZORC in Miranda, Cauca, where leaders face regular and systemic threats. PUPSOC is associated with the National Federation of Agricultural Workers (FENSUAGRO), a Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective partner organization. The Colombia Team was recently in Miranda, touring the alternative production models inside the Zona de Reserva Campesina “La Elvira '' with members of FENSUAGRO, Marcha Patriotica and PUPSOC. Social leaders in Miranda reported to the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective team that attempts to organize in defense of their collective rights have been met with threats and targeted assassinations by big business and illegal armed groups with interests in extractive activities in their territory.
Colombia International Team members held a meeting at the US Embassy in Bogota in January, at which the increasing threats against Indigenous, Campesino and Afro-Colombian communities were brought to the Embassy Human Rights Attache’s attention. Embassy officials are completely aware of the level of danger faced by Colombian human rights defenders and FENSUAGRO, and we urge them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of FENSUAGRO members more broadly, as well as to ensure that the state security forces who have been threatening, harassing, and assaulting them are brought to justice.
Albeiro Silva Mosquera, was a human rights defender, member of the Campesino Guard, member of the community action committee of the township of La Morena, member of ASPROZONAC, member of the National Federation of Agricultural Unions (FENSUAGRO), member of ANZORC, member of the Process for Popular Unity of Southwestern Colombia (PUPSOC), member of the social and political committee of Marcha Patriotica - Cauca, and an active organizer for the Minga in defense of Life, the Territory, Democracy, Justice and Peace.
Luis Hugo Silva Mosquera, was a human rights defender, member of the Campesino Guard, member of the community action committee of the township of La Morena, member of ASPROZONAC, member of the National Federation of Agricultural Unions (FENSUAGRO), member of ANZORC, member of the Process for Popular Unity of Southwestern Colombia (PUPSOC), member of the social and political committee of Marcha Patriotica - Cauca.