A member of Nasa people, Breiner David Cucuname was murdered on Friday while on patrol with Indigenous Guard — a group of men, women and children seeking to protect indigenous communities and land.
Though the intention behind the killing has not yet been established, he is the first victim of violent attacks carried out against activists in 2022 in Colombia, reported Spanish-language daily El Pais.
Labelled as one of the most dangerous places for activists, 145 campaigners were murdered in the South American country in 2021, according to Colombia’s human rights ombudsman. In 2020, 182 community activists were killed, reported Reuters.
According to the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), Cucuname was accompanying his father when he was killed along with two other Guard members, reported the Guardian.
The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) condemned the killing of the 14-year-old, as they described him as the “carer of Mother Earth” and a “child protector of life” who sought the advancement of his indigenous community by “collective action and big dreams”, reported El Pais.
According to media reports, the indigenous authorities accuse left-wing guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) for the murder.
Tweeting about the killing, Agnes Callamard, secretary-general at Amnesty International said: “My heart sank over the murder of 14-year-old indigenous and environment activist Breiner David Cucuname. The age of the victim is shocking. As is the number of social leaders murdered in [Colombia]. In total impunity.”
Violence against social leaders has become a defining challenge for president Ivan Duque’s government, which has been drawing international criticism for not doing more to stop the killings.
In a statement to the media in October 2020, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty, had called Colombia “one the world’s most dangerous countries for people who are defending human rights, territory and natural resources.”
During the release of a report entitled “Why do they want to kill us?” Ms Guevara Rosas said: “Defenders will continue to die until the government effectively addresses structural issues such as the deep inequality and marginalisation suffered by communities, ownership and control of the land, substitution of illicit crops, and justice.”