Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Colombian Military and Police Confronting Indigenous Protesters in Cauca;

Organizers call for solidarity from the international community

The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, reports that today, on the third day of the national mobilization dubbed “Commotion of the Peoples,” all the communities gathered in the locality of La Maria, in the department of Cauca, are completely surrounded by the Colombian Army. Apparently, the security forces are preparing to carry out an armed assault against the civilians involved in the protest, which began on Sunday, October 12th. Organizers estimate that there are over 10,000 people currently at La Maria and surrounding areas.

The communities have blocked a portion of the Pan American Highway that connects the cities of Popayán and Santander de Quilichao in the department of Cauca, in an acto f civil disobedience. They are demanding a face to face meeting with the President to discuss the main points on their agenda.

ACIN reports that in the confrontations today, there were at least two indigenous activists severely wounded, with one possibly fatally. Two other indigenous activists from Tierradentro were detained.

Simultaneously, 4 cadavers were transfered from Corinto to the morgue in the town of Caloto. According to ACIN, up to now, local officials have not allowed indigenous authorities in to identify the victims and examine the corpses.

Prior to the mobilization, which was called to protest against the militarization of indigenous territories, the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the government of Alvaro Uribe, indigenous leaders warned about the potential for this kind of backlash against the movement. That the government declared a state of internal commotion just two days before the start of the protest gave them more reason to be alarmed.

In an urgent communique put out by ACIN a few moments ago, the organization states: “Everything indicates that this criminal government has initiated a massacre as a response to our indigenous resistance!”

Spokespersons for ACIN are calling on “the world not to serve as accomplices with silence in the face of this criminal regime.”

For more information, contact: http://www.nasaacin.org

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