On 25-26 September 2018 Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities and human rights defenders from Peru and Colombia met in a binational workshop in Cauca (Colombia) with FPP and allies, including the Legal Defense Institute of Peru, to share strategies and experiences in their work promoting the collective territorial rights and self determination of their peoples. In addition to agreeing to set up a platform for information exchange between the participants, the end of the gathering hosted by the Upper Cauca Palenke was marked by the adoption of an open letter calling on governments, legal authorities, companies and the international community to take actions to improve legal protections for land security and human rights alongside more effective measures to penalise abusers, land grabbers and those responsible for violence and intimidation.
OPEN LETTER FROM INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND AFRO-DESCENDANTS OF COLOMBIA AND PERU
We, the Kichwa indigenous peoples from the San Martín region-CEPKA, the Shipibo indigenous peoples from the Ucayali region-FECONAU and the Wampis Nation from the Amazon region and Loreto in Peru, the Embera Chamí indigenous peoples from the Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomaprieta in the municipalities of Ríosucio and Supia, in the department of Caldas, the delegates from the People of the Centre Regional Indigenous Council of the Middle Amazonas of Colombia and the Afro-descendant people represented in the Palenque Alto Cauca, of the Process of Black Communities, together with our allies Forest Peoples Programme (Netherlands and United Kingdom) and the Instituto de Defensa Legal (Peru), gathered in the binational event "Promoting the Collective Territorial Rights and Self-determination of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples of Colombia and Peru: Knowledge Sharing between Peoples and Allies", held in the city of Santander de Quilichao, Department of Cauca, Colombia, on the 25 and 26 of September 2018, affirm the following:
- We confirm and provide evidence of the systematic process of dispossession of our ancestral territories that we have been suffering at the hands of the State, private companies and armed actors operating outside the law who seek to appropriate the natural resources existing in our territories despite the recognition of our rights by national legislation and by international human rights law.
- We note that despite the enhanced protection given by international human rights law, which is embodied in the recognition of the collective property of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples over our traditional territories that we have traditionally occupied, the states mentioned above do not comply with their international obligations to provide effective and appropriate protection.
- We highlight that the leaders of our Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples and organisations have been systematically criminalised, threatened and persecuted, even killed, as a consequence of the defence of our territories and the right to exercise our self-government, all of this in the face of neglect, indifference and complicity of the state bodies responsible for guaranteeing our rights.
- Despite all the problems of insecurity that we experience in our territories, we continue and will continue to affirm our identities and our own cultural practices that allow us to maintain and live our ancestral traditions which are part of our of ways of life and our autonomy. In the same way, we reaffirm our will, our responsibility and our commitment to carry on the protection of water sources and bodies, forests, animals, seeds, the dignity of our peoples, our territorial autonomy, the strengthening of our self-government, our cosmovisions and peace with social justice, because it is the only way to guarantee not only the survival of our peoples, but the life of all humanity.
- We call on all peoples, civil society organisations, national and international NGOs, academics, the media and states committed to human rights, and on sensitive and socially conscious people to join this call for life.
- We demand that states and justice institutions comply with their obligations and responsibilities to respect human rights and in the case of violations committed by individuals, we remind them of their obligation to prevent, investigate and punish those responsible and to compensate those victims. We also urge companies, investors and financial institutions to comply with their commitments and responsibilities to respect human rights and apply rigorous due diligence to prevent injuries, damage and violations to our peoples and territories.
- We reaffirm the cultural, social, political, spiritual and historical importance of our ancestral territories, which are a source of identity and life for our peoples. Territory is life and life cannot be sold. Life and territory are cherished and will always be defended!