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Nasa People in the Crossfire

Published: July 16, 2012, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

As reported by the Colombia Support Network today, the Nasa people living in and around the municipality of Toribio about 200 kilometers south east of Cali, Colombia have been caught in a cross fire for more than a week between the forces of the Colombian military and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Both the Colombian government and FARC are fighting to gain or maintain control over Nasa territory (see map). Nasa territory is located in the bitterly fought jungle region where FARC has centered much of its activity for years. The Colombia Support Network release notes, “that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has ordered the Colombian government to take measures to protect the community of Toribio, but that no such measures have been taken, the indigenous community and the Association of Indigenous Communities of Cauca (ACIN) are demanding the departure of the combating forces.”


Nasa Community located in Colombia
(Nasa community territory located in the Colombian Army/FARC contested jungle region)
As with many indigenous communities in Colombia, violence not of their making has contributed to death and dislocation for many years.  The fact that the Colombian/FARC conflict continues raises the question of how beneficial such a conflict is to the people…in particular since indigenous communities suffer the brunt of violence. 
Here are the words of the Association of Councils of the North of Cauvca, ACIN-CKHAB WALA KIWE
(the territory of the Gran Pueblo):

(Translated by KAITLAN DEVINE, a CSN volunteer translator edited by John Laun)


We declare ourselves to be in permanent resistance until all armed groups and armies leave our homelands. We are at home and we are not going to leave. Those who must leave are the legal and illegal armed groups and armies which come sowing death in our territory.


More than 400 takings of Toribio by the guerrillas plus the deaths, injuries, displacement, destroyed homes, mined fields, lost crops, students without classes, pain, impunity, sadnesses, orphans, widows, threats, targetings and all kinds of abuses which go against life, norms, dignity and justice. This is reason enough to say NO MORE WAR, NO MORE ARMED GROUPS AND ARMIES WHOEVER THEY MAY BE, NO MORE ABUSES, NO MORE DISRESPECT, NO MORE RAPES AND NO MORE INVASIONS OF OUR LANDS.


LET US HAVE CALM, LEAVE US IN PEACE, MEN OF WAR.  This is the requirement which the indigenous communities and authorities of the Nasa People determine to make in a collective order to the armed groups and armies who have been fighting in the midst of the population in the municipality of Toribio, Cauca for the past 8 days.


We are not going to stay with our arms crossed watching how they kill us and destroy our territories, communities, Plans of Life, and our organizational process. Thus, rooted in the word, reason, respect and dignity, we began to walk in groups toward where the armed groups and armies are entrenched to tell them face to face that, in the context of the autonomy which belongs to us, we demand that they LEAVE, THAT WE DO NOT WANT THEM, THAT WE ARE TIRED OF DEATH, THAT THEY ARE WRONG, THAT THEY LET US LIVE IN PEACE.


We began today in Toribio, but the people are preparing to move in a peaceful manner throughout the whole territory which has been invaded and present themselves to the armed groups and armies. The idea is to develop the day marches in an alternating manner in all of the communities. We will evaluate the resistance in Toribio and act again if it is necessary until there is harmony in the whole territory.


As this is a risky move given the context in which it takes place, we exhort the public forces and guerrillas camped in the region to detain military operations in order to avoid risks to people who traverse the settlements, bases, and military encampments.


Since Toribio is one of the resguardos (reservations) which has Protective Measures issued by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (ICHR), since last September, the ACIN and indigenous authorities hold the national government and the commanders of the guerrilla armies of the FARC responsible for what may happen to the people, given that never has the community received a response of adequate protection, nor have the measures requested by the ICHR been implemented.


CXHAB WALA KIWE-Territory of the Gran Pueblo
Association of Councils of the North of Cauca, ACIN-CKHAB WALA KIWE

Lend your support to the Nasa People by calling public attention to the depredations being committed against them. Write to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights. Write to the president of Colombia.  Write to the US Department of State explaining your deep concerns about US policies that get translated into violence against people like the NASA.

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