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Startseite Urgent Actions 2013 09 Community leader killed, others at risk
UA 266/13
Abgeschlossen am 7. November 2013

Community leader killed, others at risk

AI-Index: AMR 23/044/2013

A community leader was killed when he planned to return to Ituango municipality, Northern Colombia, from where hundreds were forcibly displaced while they were opposing the construction of a dam.

On 17 September the community leader and artisanal miner Nelson Giraldo was killed on the river bank of Cauca River in an area known as Sardinas in the municipality of Ituango, Antioquia Department. He was a leader of the Ríos Vivos Antioquia Movement, which represents some of those who have been displaced from several municipalities from the North and the West of Antioquia Department since March 2013. Nelson Giraldo was shot in the chest and legs and his throat had been cut. He had visited the municipality to see if it was possible for his family to return. On 9 September a court in Medellin had ordered local authorities to attend to the collective protection measures requested by the Ríos Vivos movement.

Following a series of incidents, including threats by paramilitaries, guerrilla attacks, fighting between armed forces and guerrilla, as well as mass detentions of those opposing the building of a dam on the Cauca River, known as Hidroituango, some 250 artisanal miners and others making their living from the river fled the area. In recent years those opposing the development of Hidroituango have repeatedly been labelled as guerrilla fighters by the security forces and faced possibly arbitrary detentions. Those labelled as guerrilla collaborators have frequently been the target of human rights violations including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, enforced displacement and threats. Artisanal miners and others living in the 12 municipalities which will be affected by the dam fear they will lose their livelihood.

Additional Information

The Ríos Vivos Movement is a national movement made up of communities affected by large scale energy projects, mostly dams and other projects which they consider to affect their access to water resources. The organization also campaigns to protect the livelihoods of those living in the areas affected by these energy projects. They are aiming to defend the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of those affected by these large-scale economic projects. In the case of Antioquia different social organizations, groups and individuals from the municipalities of Ituango, San Andrés de Cuerquía, Toledo, Briceño, Yarumal, Sabanalarga, Liborina and Olaya affected by the hydroelectric project of Ituango, also known as Hidroituango, are part of the Ríos Vivos Antioquia Movement.

The Hidroituango dam is being built in an area affected by the armed conflict. In the 1990s, paramilitaries carried out a series of massacres in collusion with the security forces in Ituango Municipality, one of the municipalities which will be affected by the dam. There has been no justice for many of these human rights violations and those campaigning for justice are being threatened because of their fight against impunity.

During Colombia’s long-running armed conflict, members of human rights organizations, trade unions and other social organizations have often been labelled guerrilla collaborators or supporters by the security forces and paramilitaries. As a result they are often killed, threatened, or subjected to enforced disappearance. Guerrilla groups have also threatened or killed human rights defenders they consider to be siding with the enemy.

Name: Nelson Giraldo (m), members of the Ríos Vivo Antioquia Movement

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