Posted on 24 January 2017.
Colombian human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma | Photo: Conpaz
On Tuesday police in the Pacific coast city of Buenaventura announced they had discovered the body of Afro-Colombian human rights activist Emilsen Manyoma, 32, and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega, who had been missing since Saturday.
A prominent leader in the Bajo Calima region since 2005, Manyoma was an active member of the community network CONPAZ where she was an outspoken critic of right-wing paramilitary groups and the displacement of local by international mining and agribusiness interests.
For the past year Manyoma played a key role in documenting attacks on human rights leaders in the region as part of the recently created Truth Commission.
The police said they had found the bodies in an advanced state of decomposition in a jungle area beside the highway. The Justice and Peace Commission, an ecumenical human rights group, reported that both bodies were severely wounded, with Rodallega’s hands reported tied. Radio Contagio reported that both bodies were beheaded.
While police did not release the names of any suspects, just days before their disappearance on Saturday, Rodallega reported being threatened and said a truck had been circling Manyoma’s house.
According to the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, at least 85 human rights defenders were murdered in Colombia in 2016 alone.
Posted in Colombia, South America
Posted on 03 December 2016.
Recent attacks on leftist activists in Colombia is leading some to draw parallels with the systemic extermination of leftists in the ’80s and ’90s.
Left-wing politician Aida Avella warned that Colombia could be witness to the kind of targeted killings of political activists like those seen in the 1980s and 1990s that saw an entire political party be virtually wiped out.
Avella is the president of the Patriotic Union, a party that saw no less than 5,000 of its supporters, including sitting politicians and presidential candidates, killed by the state and its paramilitary allies in what was deemed a political genocide.
“I don’t think another genocide is starting, rather it is a continuation of the genocide against opposition sectors. That’s because the paramilitary structures have not been dismantled, they are completely intact,” Avella told Contagio Radio.
Despite the much-heralded signing of a peace agreement between the state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, the country has been experiencing a wave of killings of left-wing activists and social movement leaders.
The political movement Marcha Patriotica has received death threats directed at a number of the organization’s members including student and campesino leaders, as well as prominent Senator Piedad Cordoba.
A slew of murders of rural and social activists in recent weeks has sparked alarm over systemic violence against human rights defenders, left-wing political activists, and supporters of the peace process. The FARC itself has not begun its demobilization process over concerns about the safety of the rebels.
Colombia Paramilitaries Threaten Leftist Leaders
Avella said the people behind the targeted assassinations of supporters of the Patriotic Union are also behind the recent wave of killings.
“There is a big plan against Marcha Patriotica – that is to say, there are intellectual authors and there are financiers – and since there are such things, the state can not relent from punishing this sort of thing,” said Avella.
The peace agreement includes a section that makes it incumbent on the Colombian state to guarantee the safety of political activists.
Rights defenders have drawn parallels between the barrage of attacks on the Marcha Patriotica and the systematic extermination of the Patriotic Union over the course of the last century. The attack on the party is seen as one of the reasons a previous effort to secure peace failed.
Leftists fear a repeat of the same scenario would mean peace would once again slip out of their hands.
“I think we are going to need to get used to the idea that the life of a campesino is as important as of a minister,” said Avella.
Posted in Colombia