Colombia: Record death toll rises with murder of indigenous leader

Official statistics show that a staggering 156 social leaders were killed in Colombia in the 14 months between January 1, 2016 and March 1, 2017.
Friday, June 16, 2017

Jose Maria Lemus, president of the Tibu Community Board in Colombia’s North of Santander state, has been killed, the Peoples’ Congress reported June 14.

His murder adds to the growing list of recently assassinated social, Indigenous and human rights activists in the South American country.

In May, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights raised alarm over the fact that at least 41 activists have been killed in Colombia so far this year, a record figure in comparison to previous years.

UN commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the figure shows a worsening trend of crimes against social leaders and human rights defenders.

“It's an increase over the same period last year and the previous years, and it is very alarming,” he said during a news conference.

According to Zeid, the attacks appear to be concentrated in areas that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia previously controlled during the armed conflict and recently abandoned in order to demobilise after it signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government.

Official statistics show that a staggering 156 social leaders were killed in Colombia in the 14 months between January 1, 2016 and March 1, 2017.

 [Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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