Leader of the Congress of the Peoples Murdered in Colombia

Source: Congreso de los Pueblos / The Dawn News / September, 12, 2016

We regret to inform and denounce to the world that in the afternoon of Sunday September 11, 2016, Néstor Iván Martínez, member of the Congress of the Peoples and Spokesman of the Dialogue Commission was murdered in the region known as Centro del César.

Armed men that were travelling by motorcycle arrived in the farm owned by the brother of the communitary leader, located in the rural area of Sierrita. There, they tied down the estate’s administrator and his wife. As Néstor Iván Martínez arrived to the farm, they murdered him by shooting him twice in the head.

Néstor Iván Martínez was also a member of the Community Council of black communities of La Sierra, El Cruce and La Estación CONESICE in the same region, and he was leading the community in a fight in defense of their territory and the environment and against mining.

Last July, Martínez had also led a protest against the closing of the San Andrés Public Hospital of the Chiriguaná municipality. Another important detail is that during the days of protest, a young member of the Community Council of La Sierrita called Neiman Agustín Lara was murdered and the community as a whole was a victim of many aggressions and violations by the public repressive forces.

The men and women who lead the Dialogue Commission are at great risk. On August 25, a pamphlet was distributed in many municipalities in the South of Centro del César with violent threats against the members of the Dialogue Commission. The pamphlet is signed by a group that calls itself Armed Group of Social Cleansing. In the pamphlet, the group warns they are heading towards the departments of César, Bolívar and Santander and give the full names of the people they are targeting. For example, the extensive communiqué refers to the Commission for Dialogue of South Bolivar, and Center and South César (CISBCSC) and reads: “they are taking refuge in a dialogue roundtable made up of guerrillas like Iván Cepeda. We’re going to cut a leg off this table so that it can’t stand”.

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The text expresses the group’s disconformity with the occupation of several farms that weren’t being economically productive, where hundreds of victims of the armed conflict have settled and at last glimpsed an opportunity for subsistence. By cultivating the land they were able to end their hunger and homelessness, after suffering from poverty, forced migrations and abandonment due to the inaction of the armed groups and the Colombian State.

WE DEMAND THE STATE OF COLOMBIA…

  • … To fulfill the agreements signed between the National Government and the Agrarian Summit, and therefore to immediately protect the leaders and spokespeople of the Congress of the Peoples and the Agrarian Summit.
  • … To protect the lives of all leaders of the Community Council of La Sierrita, and of the spokespeople of the Commission for Dialogue of South Bolivar, and Center and South César.
  • … To Protect the lives, physical integrity and freedom of the communities that are settled on several lands to demand the state to immediately provide a solution for their difficult situation.
  • … To immediately and effectively investigate and sanction the murderers of our leader Néstor Iván Martínez and Neiman Agustín Lara.
  • … To immediately send a commision of verification that is made up of national authorities, and to which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is invited, in order to provide support to the community, verify the acts of aggression against its members, initiate the corresponding investigations and take immediate protection measures.
  • … To immediately reactivate the Dialogue Roundtable of South Bolivar, and Center and South César, with the goal of further moving on to comply with the convened agenda of dialogues, which was postponed indefinitely and unilaterally by the national government.
  • … To immediately send the National Agency of Land, the National Unit of Victims, the Foreign Ministry, the Ombudsman, and other organisms to the region in order to meet with the delegates of the CISBCSC, to design a strategy to solve the serious humanitarian crisis and the conflicts over land in the region. All of this should be carried out in accordance to the agreements signed with the Agrarian, Ethnic and Popular Summit, in the context of the agenda of the Regional Roundtable of Dialogue.
  • … The disarticulation of paramilitarism in that region of the country and investigation and sanction to those who are threatening the community and creating terror in the region.
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September 11, 2016

Commission for Dialogue of South Bolivar, and Center and South César

Commission for Human Rights of the Congress of the Peoples