ONIC denounces assassinations of Native Americans and U'wa advisor

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) is a national umbrella organization that represents and works with the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia.


According to today's news, the corpses of North American Indigenous sisters, INGRID INAWATUK and LARRY GAY LAHEENGE, and a biologist and defender of the rights of the U'wa Peoples, TERENCE FREITAS, were found. They had been abducted on their way from Cubará to Saravena, Arauca apparently, by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on February 25th.

The Native Americans and representative of a NGO were visiting the U'wa territory and carrying out cultural exchange activities. The NGO as other North American Indigenous groups had been supporting the struggle of the U'wa Peoples for the defense of their territory against the threat of petroleum exploitation from Occidental of Colombia.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), strongly denounce the crime against our brothers, sisters and friends from North America. We condemn this act and consider it a demonstration against the rights of the U'wa and other Indigenous Peoples of Colombia.

To the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) we express our repudiation and demand a clarification about this crime committed against our rights. We cannot accept that persons who defend the rights of social sectors, seriously threatened from the extreme right, would also be victims of armed groups that say they defend the popular sectors. We are calling friends of Indigenous people from all over the world to speak out.

To the relatives, friends and colleagues of our Indigenous sisters and brothers and North American friends we want to express our condolences and solidarity, with the certainty that this act will not go unpunished and inspire us even more in the defense of our rights and the rights of all Indigenous Peoples in the world.

That the bodies of our brothers and sisters become rocks so that the Land may stay balanced;
That their blood replace the blood that others take away from Kerachikará;
That their spirits be united with the flight of the Tijeretas and look after the space of the U'wa and Indigenous Peoples of America;
That their words and commitment be kept in our memory and the memory of Sira. --------------------
Que los cuerpos de nuestros hermanos se coloquen como pierdas para que la Tierra se mantenga en equilibrio;
que su sangre reemplace la sangre que otros le quitan a Kerachikará;
que sus espíritus se unan al vuelo de las Tijeretas y cuiden el espacio de los U'wa y de los Pueblos Indígenas de América;
que su palabra y su entrega solidaria se mantengan en nuestra memoria y en la de Sira.

Executive Committee
Santafé de Bogotá, D.C.
March 5, 1999

translated by Mariana Viturro, Abya Yala Fund with the permission of ONIC.