• Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    The indigenous population in Colombia is estimated at 1,500,000 inhabitants, or 3.4 per cent of the total population. Along with many campesinos and Afro-Colombian, many indigenous peoples in the country continue to struggle with forced displacement and landlessness as a result of the long term armed conflict in Colombia.

Colombia: Call to action

On June 2, 2011, people in Colombia and other parts of the world will join to mark the 10th anniversary of the forced disappearance of Colombian Indigenous leader Kimy Pernia Domico, and draw attention to ongoing threats and attacks against Indigenous peoples in Colombia. The Jenzerá Collective – a Colombian organization that Kimy helped form and that is comprised of his closest collaborators – together with other organizations in Colombia are planning a week of diverse activities to honour Kimy’s memory, raise awareness and press for State accountability.

As part of this, they have called for a National and International Day of Action on June 2 to demand truth and justice, under the slogan Jonsía Jomata “Everyone Together”. In Colombia and other parts of the world, candles will be lit to honour Kimy and we have been asked to do the same. Kimy had a close connection with Canada. In 1999, he moved Canadian MPs when he testified before a Parliamentary Committee about the devastating impact of a dam project that received financing from Canada’s Export Development Corporation despite failure to accord affected Indigenous communities their right to free, prior and informed consent. In 2001, Kimy returned to speak at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Kimy was honoured with the John Humphrey Freedom Award, given by the Canadian organization Rights and Democracy. Kimy was kidnapped by army-backed paramilitary forces in 2001 and remains “disappeared”. No one has been brought to justice for this crime. Ten years later, threats and attacks on Indigenous leaders and Indigenous communities have intensified. According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Embera are amongst more than 32 Indigenous Peoples threatened with extinction in Colombia as a result of the ongoing armed conflict, state abandonment and the imposition of development projects on their land. The threats are so serious that the UN's Rapporteur on Indigenous People has called for a visit by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. What You Can Do: · Hold a candlelight vigil on that day (no matter where or how many you are). Please send a photo of this to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that it can be shared with Kimy’s family and community. For those in the Toronto area – Join us at a candlelight vigil that will be held between 6:30 – 7:30 PM on Thursday June 2 at the southwest corner of Yonge and Dundas Street (where the Colombian consulate is located); · Sign an online petition prepared by Amnesty International (www.amnesty.ca/colombia ) to President Santos, calling for justice for Kimy and protection for the Embera and other Indigenous Peoples threatened with extinction; · Hold a screening of the video: Our River: Our Life: The Struggle of the Embera Katio of Colombia. This 10 minute video was filmed with Kimy in Colombia and shows the impact of the dam on the lives of the Embera people. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50gD3G6ZRq4 · Use the attached art work (commissioned by Amnesty International) to create signs or banners for display in offices, schools or other public spaces. Take a photo holding the sign/banner and send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The photos will be shared with Colombian partners and used for political pressure in Canada.

Tags: Press releases



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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