MADRE Condemns the Assassination of Indigenous Activist in Colombia
Posted on: Thursday, January 15, 2009
On December 16, 2008, Edwin Legarda was killed by Colombian army personnel when they fired 17 shots into the vehicle he was driving. He was the husband of Indigenous human rights defender Aida Quilcue, who had recently returned from testifying before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva about the violence against Indigenous Peoples in Colombia.
Many have speculated that the attack was meant for his wife, Chief Counsel of the Consejo Regional Indígena de Colombia - CRIC (The Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca), as a means to silence her activism and to spread terror. While the military has labeled this incident an accident, this killing represents a larger trend of politically-motivated assassinations in Colombia.
In 2006, MADRE activated the Emergency and Disaster Relief Fund in order to secure a shelter for Aida Quilcue and her daughter, when death threats made them fear for their safety. Despite the threats against her life and the lives of her family, Aida has nevertheless continued her work to protect Indigenous Peoples' rights, particularly the right to land.
MADRE condemns this assassination and joins Colombian Indigenous Peoples’ rights activists in calling for a full investigation. To read a Statement by the National Indigenous Organizations of Colombia (ONIC), click here. MADRE also recalls that—even as international attention may be drawn to urgent crises around the globe—activists worldwide continue to face harassment and threats as they persevere in their work to advance human rights.