14-Year-Old Indigenous Activist Murdered In Colombia
A 14-year-old indigenous activist is the latest victim of a spate of fatal attacks in Colombia.
At least 145 community leaders and other activists died in the South American country last year, including indigenous figures, trade unionists and representatives of rural communities. It's believed a social leader was killed every 60 hours last year. In 2020, 182 activists were also murdered.
While the government signed an official peace deal with the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 2016, coming after a civil war which took the lives of more than 260,000 people, violence has increased in the region in recent years as a result of disputes over territory and resources.
My heart sank over the murder of 14-year-old indigenous and environment activist Breiner David Cucuname. The age of the victim is shocking. As is the number of social leaders murdered in #Colombia. In total impunity. https://t.co/Buy5VRztP1— Agnes Callamard (@AgnesCallamard) January 19, 2022
Breiner David Cucuñame, a member of Nasa people, was shot dead on Friday, January 14, while accompanying his father on patrol with the Indigenous Guard, an unarmed group which works to protect indigenous people and their land. Men, women and children assist the group.
Cucuñame, as well as two other Guard members, were murdered in an ambush, according to the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), The Guardian reports.
'The indigenous guard are protectors of the land and the environment, and Breiner represented that. The murder of Breiner is the result of a phenomenon that was years in the making. In Colombia, armed groups dominate once more,' Eduin Mauricio Capaz, the human rights coordinator for ACIN, said.
El atentado en contra de la Guardia Indígena registrado este 14 de enero en la vereda San Gregorio, resguardo las Delicias en Buenos Aires, Cauca, dejo dos compañeros asesinados: el guardia indígena Guillermo Chicame Ipia y de e Breiner David Cucuñame López de 14 años . @CIDH pic.twitter.com/oWpAk37PV7— Rosita Campuzano🌹 (@sofialopezmera) January 15, 2022
New figures released this week showed that last year, a social leader –whether a human rights defender, community activist or environmentalist – was killed every 60 hours in Colombia.
The teen was also described as the 'carer of Mother Earth' and a 'child protector of life' who wanted to help his indigenous community by 'collective action and big dreams' by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC).
Agnes Callamard, secretary-general at Amnesty International, tweeted, 'My heart sank over the murder of 14-year-old indigenous and environment activist Breiner David Cucuname. The age of the victim is shocking. As is the number of social leaders murdered in [Colombia]. In total impunity.'
Elizabeth Dickinson, senior analyst for Colombia at the International Crisis Group, believes activists are a major target 'because they are often the few voices within a terrified and traumatised community who are willing to speak up against the affectations of violence, whether against their communities or the environment.
'The threats against activists are not a secret to anyone; the government has been warned repeatedly - by the community, by the military, by the state ombudsman - about the risks... far too often, the response is reactive, when it is already too late,' she added.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677