INDIGENOUS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER PHANOR GUAZAQUILLO PEÑA ASSASSINATED IN PUTUMAYO
It is with great pain, consternation and indignation that we share the news of the murder of Phanor Guazaquillo Peña, 45 years old, father of 4 children, indigenous authority of the Nasa People of the Ancestral Territory Kwesx Kiwe-Our Land, member of Conpazcol – Communities Building Peace in Colombia organizational board, which we have accompanied for many years.
FORPP had been accompanying Phanor in his work to promote concrete proposals for peace and non-violent self-protection with CONPAZCOL and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia IELCO.
In Antioquia, we accompany CONPAZCOL so that they can carry out workshops that focus on strengthening and training indigenous guards in Dabeiba and Frontino. We have also supported initiatives including the development of peace proposals from local communities and the construction of the Mother House, an initiative of the Interethnic Table for Peace of Blanquita Murri. FORPP has accompanied these projects along with IELCO since 2019.
In Buenaventura, FORPP accompanied Phanor mainly regarding issues of access to land, land titling and expansion of reserves, land restitution processes, and promoting the return and relocation of displaced communities.
Please find the translated version of CONPAZCOL’s communiqué below.
ASSASSINATION OF PHANOR GUAZAQUILLO PEÑA, INDIGENOUS NASA LEADER IN PUTUMAYO, PEACEWORKER
Today, on December 3rd, 2023 at 3:00PM, at the exit of the new cemetery in Puerto Asís – Putumayo, Phanor Guazaquillo Peña was assassinated. Peña was an indigenous authority of the Nasa Community and Kwésx Kiwe – Our Land Territory. The crime occurred as he was leaving the funeral of Manuel Carlosama of the Siona Indigenous community alongside his partner and other community members. Carlosama had died in a transit accident. An unknown person wearing a mask approached him and shot. Peña fell to the floor, but did not die instantly. The shooter shot him numerous times and pointed his weapon at those present. Then he fled the scene in a motorcycle, driven by another accomplice. Phanor’s body, still with vital signals, was transported in a funeral vehicle found on site to the hospital in Puerto Asís, but he unfortunately died due to the severity of his wounds on the way.
Phanor Guazaquillo Peña, a Santander de Quilichao native, was 45 years old, father to four children, leader and authority of the Nasa Community in Putumayo, and current governor of the Cabildo Nasa Kwésx Kiwe – Our Land community in Puerto Asís. He was the national spokesman for the Special High Level Instance for Ethnic Communities (IEANPE) and served on the board of the Communities Constructing Peace in Colombia CONPAZCOL organization. Phanor participated as a member of the National Ethnic Coordination for Peace CENPAZ where he helped construct the Ethnic Chapter during the Peace Accords in La Havana. He also served on the council for the Puerto Asís municipality and was a candidate in previous election cycles.
With CONPAZCOL he was accompanying numerous projects to support integral peace initiatives, such as the Casa Madre (Mother House for Peace), led by the Interethnic Table for Peace in Blanquita Murrí in western Antioquia, and the humanitarian initiative for peace in the Wounaan Nonam community in Buenaventura. He also accompanied initiatives dedicated to land restitution and led projects focused on expanding land restitution and land titles, including relocation and land return for displaced communities. Additionally, he supported projects dedicated to reconciliation, and initiatives to search for disappeared persons in southern Huila.
During this past year, he was associated with the Lutheran Church in Colombia (IELCO) through a project with the Multi-donor Foundation of the United Nations. The project was designed to strengthen and capacitate the Indigenous Guard in western Antioquia. Despite his defense of social, environmental and human rights, Phanor did not have suitable protection measures from the National Unit of Protection (UNP).
It is important to highlight that our colleague had, on multiple occasions, received threats due to his proposals for a society and community that guaranteed optimal conditions for life and humanity, and which uplifted humanitarian values. Despite this, he was not given adequate protection or security measures, a situation which manifested in stated criminal activity.
Due to the severity of this incident, we demand:
- Competent authorities promptly and diligently advance in clarifying responsible intellectual and material actors in this crime against our leader and Nasa authority.
- The National Government to activate, within the framework of the Total Peace policy, and coherent with a focus on human security, all necessary measures to protect life and territories where peace is being constructed.
- The Defense Ministry to demonstrate concrete advancement in dismantling illegal structures that continue to assassinate social leaders in Colombia.
- The Interior Ministry to create concrete changes in the UNP so that territories and leaders can be protected by effective prevention measures.
- The CERREM committee to explain why risk levels for leaders who work in the construction of peace in regions of armed conflict and humanitarian crisis continue to be classified as ORDINARY and, in consequence, do not receive necessary protection measures.
- The National Security Commission to demonstrate concrete results of the application of public policy for dismantling criminal organizations and conduct that are responsible for homicide and assassinations of human rights defenders and peacemakers, such as the case of Phanor Guazaquillo Peña.
We ask that:
- Ethnic organizations, small-scale farmers, victims, and human rights, environmental and social defenders, accompany the family and community of Phanor Guazaquillo in this moment of pain, indignation and fear, in order to make the severity of the humanitarian and violent situation visible that is affecting CONPAZCOL territories in Colombia.
- National and international accompaniment organizations to activate their advocacy networks and prioritize physical accompaniment for CONPAZCOL in Colombia.
December 3rd, 2023
Conpazcol -Communities Building Peace in Colombia