UN Condemns Guerrilla Attacks in Colombian Region

By Dialogo
July 17, 2012

On July 14, the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia, Todd Howland, condemned the harassment of inhabitants of the conflict-ridden department of Cauca (in southwestern Colombia) by the FARC, a communist guerrilla group.

“I energetically condemn these attacks that affect civilians,” Howland said in a statement in which he reported on a visit he made Friday to the municipality of Miranda, where clashes between Government forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have taken place.

“Although neither my team nor I were wounded, we were witnesses of what is happening to people in this region of the country, and it’s really difficult and very sad to see what these Colombians are suffering,” the representative lamented.

Accompanied by other OHCHR delegates, Howland met with organizations of indigenous people and rural workers, as well as with civilian and military authorities, in order to evaluate the human-rights situation in this conflict-ridden area.

“During almost the entire mission, I heard shots and explosions. I left the area by a different route from the one by which I entered. I know that the coordinator of the Miranda indigenous guard, Camilo Tarquinas, who accompanied us in several of these places, was wounded in the left leg upon leaving the area,” Howland lamented.

Over the last week, in the course of combat in other Cauca municipalities, such as Toribio, Argelia, and Caloto, more than a dozen inhabitants have been wounded, while residences and communications infrastructure have been damaged, and dozens of communities of indigenous people and rural workers have been displaced.

At the same time, in the municipality of Jambaló, a Colombian Air Force plane – a Super Tucano manufactured in Brazil – suffered an accident in which its two pilots died.

While the guerrilla group claims to have shot down the aircraft, which was conducting operations in the mountainous area, President Juan Manuel Santos and the authorities have dismissed this account.

The FARC is Colombia’s leading guerrilla group and has around 9,200 fighters, according to official figures.