95 civil society organisations around the world are calling on the Colombian government and mining companies to take action against the continuing violence in the Colombian mining region Cesar. The appeal is a direct response to the murder of Aldemar Parra Garcia on January 7th this year.
Aldemar was assassinated by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle in broad daylight. Aldemar was an active member of the community of El Hatillo, that since 2010 has been involved in a lengthy process of involuntary resettlement with three mining companies. He was a family member of several community leaders who were critical towards a resettlement plan recently proposed by the mining companies. Until recently Aldemar was working for the mine of Colombian Natural Resources (CNR). Parra leaves his wife and three children behind.
Pattern of violence
The murder of Aldemar fits a pattern of violence against civil society and their leaders that we see across Colombia and in the mining region of Cesar. According to the PAX report Civil society under Threat in Cesar at least 200 leaders became victims of threats, assaults and killings between 2012-2016. Most of them are social leaders critical about the impact of mining activities in the region. The majority of these acts of violence were claimed by or carry the signature of neo-paramilitary groups, who on numerous occasions have claimed to defend the interests of the mining companies and other economic actors in the region.
95 civil society organisations worldwide are calling upon the Colombian government to not treat the assassination of Aldemar Parra Garcia as an isolated incident, but address it in the context of a pattern of acts of intimidation and violence directed against civil society in Cesar. They urge the mining companies to publicly distance themselves from neo-paramilitary groups that claim to operate in their interests, and to search for effective and just solutions for the impacts of mining on the local population in the region, including remediation of grave human rights violations in the recent past.
PAX will inform the Colombian government and mining companies about the declaration. Also, PAX has called on the European energy companies that buy blood coal from Cesar to issue a public statement in which they urge the Colombian authorities and mining companies to take the steps proposed in the declaration.
In depth: Stop Blood CoalNatural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights, Dealing with the Past, Colombia