30 International NGOs band together to condemn murder of slain activist

By Kwinten Wouters December 27, 2017

30 NGOs from around the world have strongly condemned the slaying of human-rights activist Hernán Bedoya. In a letter, the organizations expressed concern and sought justice for the Colombian community leader who had been killed on 8 December in the province of Choco. 

Colombian Human Rights organisation Justicia y Paz reported that Bedoya was shot dead by the neo-paramilitary group “Autodefensas Gaitanisas”.

According to the thirty environmental, developmental and human rights organisations, the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs María Holguín and ambassador Sergio Jaramillo, have to duly investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Furthermore, their letter written from Europe’s capital Brussels urges them to take real action to protect the lives of Hernán’s relatives and the dozens of threatened community leaders in the region.  

Courtesy of: NGO Justicia y Paz

In 1996, paramilitary groups displaced Hernán from his land in Pedeguita and Mancilla, located in Riosucio in the Department of Chocó. In 2012 he returned and henceforth, Bedoya had fought to recover his land, leading him to create the humanitarian and bio-diverse zone ‘Mi Tierra’. He became a community leader and took action against palm oil, banana and rancher companies and denounced them for their illegal land-grabbing and deforestation.

It was there, in the collective territory of Pedeguita and Mancilla, that Hernán Bedoya was shot to death.

Since 2015 Hernán had received numerous threats on his life. Justicia y Paz states that these were always reported to the state authorities.

Hernán generously gave testimony about palm oil expansion for bio diesel production in Colombia for the award-winning documentary “Frontera Invisible”, of which a short fragment can be watched here.

Hernán Bedoya is the second leader to be assassinated in the region in 2 weeks. Mario Castaño Bravo, another social leader, was murdered on 26 November.

There’s growing international concern about the murders of community leaders and social activists in Colombia that have taken place after the historic peace agreement with the Farc over 12 months ago.

According to the Colombian government agency Defensoria del Pueblo, between 1 January 2016 and 5 July 2017, 186 rural and indigenous leaders were murdered.