U'wa update 3 children killed!
US oil giant Occidental Petroleum, has been given the go ahead to begin drilling on the homelands of the Colombian rainforest-dwelling U'wa people, despite their threat to commit collective suicide if the Colombian government allowed th companuuy to invade their land. Three childeren have been killed in protests and a general strike in support of the U'wa has been called in the U'wa region.
This posting contains:
1. UDWG press release Feb 17
2. Take action for the U'wa - now and March 9th!
3. Improved U'wa solidarity email lists!
4. U'wa Communique - Army Attacks Feb 11 (espanol and english)
5. UDWG press release Feb 11
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
U'WA DEFENSE WORKING GROUP
Media Advisory: February 17, 2000
Contacts: Atossa Soltani 310-317-7045 Steve Kretzmann 510-551-7953
Lauren Sullivan 415-398-4404 Martin Wagner 415-627-6700
General Strike in Effect in U'wa Region in Colombia
Dead Children Named, One Body Found
In Washington, OXY Admits Payments to Guerrillas
Responding to the recent use of force by the Colombian National Police against the peaceful U'wa, rural workers throughout the region began a general strike on February 15. Scheduled to last three days, the strike is being observed in the districts of Araucanos de Fortul, Saravena y Arauquita, as well as Cubará where businesses remained closed and public transportation was suspended. The Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo reported that the body of one of the victims of Friday's incident, four-month old Nury Bócota, daughter of Pastor and Gloria Bócota, was found. The names of two other children believed dead were also reported as 10 year-old Jorge Anicuta and 9 year-old Maricio Diaz. The two were from the Guahibo indigenous community of Geareros (Tame) who had joined protests in solidarity with the U'wa. Search for the other bodies is made difficult due to the terrain and the fast current of the Cubojón River. The U'wa also claim a fourth infant may have died in the clash.
Families and friends of the four-month old victim conducted a burial service yesterday. The children allegedly drowned after the soldiers and anti-riot police used tear gas, bulldozers and riot sticks to charge the blockade, forcing the U'wa to jump into the fast flowing Cubujón River. The National Police had previously denied reports of deaths as a result of the confrontation.
The U'wa also released the names of four U'wa who were injured and 11 additional people reported missing following the incident. The injured are reported as: Maria Antoineta Ihuanito, Chela Ihuanito, Patricia Ihuanito, and Luis Caballero. The missing are reported as: Eleanora Herrera, Luz Elena Herrera, Gustavo Delgado, Wilson Diaz, Antonio Delgado, Nelson Diaz, Edgar Diaz, Tonio Delgado, Freddy Diaz, Alfredo Diaz, Wilson Herrera.
Meanwhile in Washington this week, Larry Meriage, Occidental Petroleum's Vice President of Public Affairs admitted that Oxy regularly pays off the Colombian Guerrillas. Testifying before the Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Meriage stated that: "[our employees] are regularly shaken down by both the FARC and the ELN. They are required to pay a "war tax" to both of the guerrilla groups or they are not able to work."
"Meriage's admission that Oxy pays the guerrillas underscores the absurdity of looking for oil in the middle of a war zone." said Steve Kretzmann of Amazon Watch. "It also reinforces what the U'wa have always said about this project - that it will only bring more violence to their region. The only responsible course of action for Oxy and the Colombian Government is an immediate suspension of the Samoré project pending a negotiated settlement that all sides are party to."
Video footage taken by the U'wa of the February 11 incident has aired on Colombian Television stations. Copies of any of the aforementioned documents are available upon request.
# # #
URGENT! SOLIDARITY ACTIONS FOR THE U'WA PEOPLE NEEDED!
The U'wa people are being killed. They are threatened because a small cartel of corporate and government elites are willing to profit off the destruction of indigenous lands and culture. As the Colombian military occupies U'wa land Occidental Petroleum is transporting equipment into the Gibraltar 1 drill site. The situation is urgent. The U'wa resistance continues but to be successful the efforts of the U'wa in Colombia must be matched by global action! We must show the world that we will not silently sit back and allow the violation of the rights of the U'wa people.
If you are in the US call upon your elected representatives and urge them to vote against Clinton's proposed $1.3 billion military aid package to Colombia. Explain to them that US military aid will lead to an escalation in violence against indigenous communities. The U'wa people want peace not oil! Also contact Vice President Al Gore. As an major shareholder in Oxy he has a responsibility to speak out against these crimes! Contact his national campaign office in Nashville TN at : p) 615-340-2000 or fax)615-340-3295 firstname.lastname@example.org Demand he take action for the U'wa! Gore has been targeted from Vermont to New York to Olympia Washington. Let's keep up the pressure! Organize against Fidelity Investments one of Oxy's largest shareholders who are willing to profit from the destruction of U'wa lands and culture. Find your nearest Fidelity Investor center at : http://personal400.fidelity.com/gen/centers/invstctr.html.tvsr Get free phone numbers to call Fidelity from around the world at : http://www100.fidelity.com/about/contact/inter.html Send a letter of protest to Fidelity's CEO Mr. Edward Johnson III, Chairman Fidelity Investments 82 Devonshire Street, Boston, MA 02109 fax # = 617-476-4164 Organize a demonstration, letter writing party, educational event or non-violent direct action. U'wa children are dying. Does Fidelity care?
MARCH 9TH - GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION FOR THE U'WA!
Let's make it a day that Fidelity will remember when we show them that there is No Business as Usual for companies who profit from genocide! Start organizing a demonstration today! More information and downloadable factsheets at www.ran.org Contact patrick at RAN (+1) 415-988-4404 or 1-800-989-RAIN or email@example.com.
Rainforest Action Networking has been maintaining an email contact list of U'wa supporters around the world. In order to more easily manage subscribers with our limited resources we are switching our existing lists to Topica. Hopefully this will facilitate the rapid spread of information and allow decentralized discussions of strategy. We have set up two email lists for U'wa supporters one for emergency updates/communiques only and one for discussion. Here's is a brief explanation of their differences.
1. UWA_UPDATES : An announcement only email list (very low traffic) for communiques from the U'wa, emergency updates and calls to action. List subscribers cannot post to the list. You can subscribe to it at : http://igc.topica.com/lists/uwa_updates or by sending a BLANK email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. U'WA-INT : The International U'wa solidarity list which is a discussion list to help U'wa supporters around the world strategize about how best to support the U'wa. List subscribers can post to all other members of the list. You can subscribe to it at http://igc.topica.com/lists/uwa-int or by sending a BLANK email to: email@example.com Spread the word about these two new organizing tools!
4. English translation (Version en Espanol sigue) Sent: Friday, February 11, 2000 11:33 AM
URGENT: THREE U'WA CHILDREN KILLED DURING COMBINED POLICE AND MILITARY RAID
DENUNCIA PUBLICA NACIONAL E INTERNACIONAL
The Association of Traditional Uwa Authorities, ASOUWA, and the Regional Indigenous Council of Arauca, denounce the following to departmental, national and international Human Rights and Non-governmental Organizations:
1. Today, Friday, February 11, 2000, at approximately 8:15 a.m., combined Colombian military and police forces arrived by air to the hamlet of Canoas, approximately 4 kilometers from Gibraltar, Northern Santander deparatement. At the site, approximately 450 indians -- women, children, men and elders from the U'wa community -- were gathered. Without prior warning, the public forces violently evicted the members of the community using heavy machinery and tear gas, and they forced us to flee by leaping into the River Cubujon. As a result of these violent acts, three U'wa children died. Other children and women are wounded, and there are U'wa who are missing.
2. We denounce these crimes against humanity, specifically against the indigneous people. These actions violate our constitutional rights, our human rights and international humanitarian law.
3. We urgently request the intervention of governmental and non-governmental observers, from the national and international levels.We urge you to speak out against these abusive acts which violate the precepts of the Colombian Constitution which protect indigenous people and which violate human rights.
4. We demand that the President of Colombia and Occidental Petroleum Company take measures to respect the indigenous communities, and we hold them both responsible for all actions which violate our physical well being and territorial rights.
FOR THE DEFENSE OF OUR ETHNIC RIGHTS, OUR PRINCIPLES AND OUR THE U'WA COMMUNITY IS PRESENT
ASOU`WA/ CONSEJO REGIONAL INDIGENA DE ARAUCA ____________________________________________________
DENUNCIA PUBLICA NACIONAL E INTERNACIONAL
La Asociación de Cabildos y autoridades tradicionales ASOU`WA y el Consejo
Regional CRIA, denunciamos antes las ONGS de Derechos Humanos departamental,
nacional e internacional, los siguientes hechos:
Hoy viernes 11 de Febrero del 2000, siendo las 8:15 a.m., arribaron fuerzas
mixtas entre policía y ejercito que fueron trasladados por vía aérea, al
sitio de las Canoas, aproximadamente 4 kilómetros de Gibraltar (Norte de
Santander), lugar donde nos encontrábamos concentrados alrededor de 450
indígenas entre mujeres, niños, ancianos de la comunidad U`wa. La fuerza
publica sin ningún aviso, procedió a desplazarnos forzosamente a las
comunidades, con maquinaria pesada y gases lacrimógenos; obligándonos a
lanzarnos al río del Cubujón, debido a la persecución y hechos de fuerza,
quedaron como consecuencia de estos atropellos 3 niños indígenas muertos,
niños y mujeres heridos y contusos, a los igual indígenas desaparecidos.
Denunciamos estos hechos de lesa humanidad en contra de nuestras comunidades
indígenas, que violan nuestros derechos constitucionales, los derechos
humanos y el derecho internacional humanitario.
Solicitamos URGENTEMENTE la intervención de los organismos de veeduría y
control del Estado, como ONGs nacional e internacional a pronunciarse en
contra de estos hechos violatorios a los preceptos constitucionales
indígenas y de Derechos Humanos
Exigimos del Presidente de la República y de la OXY, el respeto de las
comunidades indígenas, a la vez los responsabilizamos de todo acto
violatorio a nuestras comunidades e integridad física y territorialidad
POR LA DEFENSA DE NUESTROS DERECHOS ETNICOS, POR NUESTOS PRINCIPIOS Y
ASOU`WA CONSEJO REGIONAL INDIGENA DE ARAUCA
U'WA DEFENSE WORKING GROUP
For Immediate Release: February 11, 2000
Atossa Soltani 202-256-9795 Martin Wagner 415-627-6700 ext 216
Steve Kretzmann 510-551-7953 or Shannon Wright 415-595-7246
Colombian Police Attack Peaceful U'wa Blockade
Three U'wa Children Killed - U'wa Reserve Militarized
Oxy and Colombian Government Urged to Suspend Operations
Cubara, Colombia -- Dangerously escalating an already tense situation, Colombian National Police today brutally attacked a group of 450 peaceful U'wa protesters on a road near Las Canoas, approximately 4 kilometers from Gibraltar 1, site of the Occidental Petroleum's proposed oil well in Northeast Colombia. According to an urgent communiqué from the U'wa, this attack resulted in the death of three U'wa children. Many adults were also injured and several U'wa are now missing.
The U'wa report that at 8:15 am this morning, four helicopters arrived from Bogota carrying members of the Colombian National Police who then began to disperse a group of U'wa men, women, children, and medicine men and their supporters who have been peacefully blockading the Saravena - Pomplano road for the past week. Without warning, the police used tear gas and heavy machinery to charge the blockade, forcing the peaceful U'wa into the Cubujón River. The road blockades had been effectively stopping Oxy from moving in construction equipment to the drill site.
The U'wa are in engaged in a tense standoff with the Colombian Government and Oxy to prevent oil drilling on their sacred ancestral lands. Since January 19, the region including the site of the oil well have been heavily militarized. The U'wa also report that even the U'wa reservation has been militarized and the army is reportedly restricting travel to and from the reservation. On January 25, The Colombian soldiers reportedly used brutal methods to evict the nonviolent U'wa, airlifting the last 25 resisters by military helicopters.
International human rights groups are calling for an immediate suspension of all activity by Oxy at Gibraltar 1 pending a negotiated settlement with the U'wa and calling on President Pastrana to withdraw Colombian security forces from the U'wa Reserve and from the two farms owned by the U'wa at Gibraltar
1. Furthermore, Groups in the U.S. are calling on the Clinton Administration to use diplomatic pressures on the Colombian Government to ensure a peaceful resolution of this conflict.
"At a time when the US is about to vote for $2 million a day in military aid to the Colombian security forces, military maneuvers resulting in the death of innocent U'wa children cause serious alarm about how our tax dollars could fund more brutality and human rights abuses against innocent civilians in Colombia," said Steve Kretzmann of Amazon Watch.
In the past week, protests were held in 34 cities in nine countries. These demonstrations have been targeting the two most important shareholders in Occidental - Fidelity Investments, which controls about 10 percent of Oxy stock, and US Vice President Al Gore, who holds up to a half million dollars in Oxy stock and who has enjoyed the sponsorship of Oxy throughout his political career. Yesterday, a protest was held outside the Gore 2000 campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.