Monday, January 23rd 2017
The undersigning organizations condemn the assassination of Aldemar Parra García and express our deepest condolences to his family.
On January 7, Aldemar was assassinated by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle on the route from El Hatillo to La Loma in broad daylight. He was a community leader and active trade unionist, until recently employed in the mine of Colombian Natural Resources (CNR). Parra leaves his wife and three children behind.
Regional context
The murder of Aldemar is not an isolated incident. Unfortunately, this murder 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 report ‘Civil society under Threat’, in Cesar at least 200 leaders became victims of threats, assaults and killings during the period 2012-2016. It is important to point out that all of these victims are social leaders whose efforts are considered by certain sectors of the Cesar population to be critical of the impact of mining activities in the region. Most of these acts are claimed by or carry the signature of neo-paramilitary groups, who claim to defend the interests of the mining companies and other economic actors in the region. For example, last September Néstor Iván Martínez, leader of an Afro-Colombian community resisting the expansion of the mines owned by the American mining company Drummond, was assassinated shortly after having been threatened by a neo-paramilitary group.
Aldemar was an active member of the community of El Hatillo; a rural community 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. Since 2014 the community has reported an increasing number of security incidents, e.g. leaflets, text messages or phone calls threatening community members. Since September 2016, inhabitants of El Hatillo have reported the presence of unidentified armed men in the vicinity during the hours of darkness.
The condemnation of the murder of Aldemar by Prodeco and Drummond (as a specific incident) is a first step, but more actions are necessary to effectively mitigate the violence against civil society in Cesar.
We urge the Colombian authorities

  • 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, and
  • to undertake – in line with the peace agreements – effective actions to crack down on and prosecute the members of any illegal armed group that operates in the mining region of Cesar.

We urge the mining companies

  • to publicly distance themselves from neo-paramilitary groups that claim to operate in their interests,
  • to actively take up a role in assuring that the security of those that are critical of the impact of mining in Cesar is guaranteed, 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, and addressing dwindling livelihood opportunities and unhealthy and unsafe working  conditions.

List of Signatories: (Organisation, Country), International Network
ABColombia, UK
Acción Ecologica, Ecuador
African Uranium Alliance, International Network
AG Bergbau und Menschenrechte in Kolumbien – Berlin, Germany
AGEH – Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Entwicklungshilfe, Germany
Amigos de la Tierra España, Spain
ASK – Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Kolumbien, Switzerland
Asociación ambiental e cultural Petón do Lobo, Galicia, Spain
Asociación gallega Cova Crea, Galicia, Spain
Bocas de Ceniza Waterkeeper, Colombia
Both ENDS, The Netherlands
Buirer für Buir, Germany
BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany, Germany
BUND Sachsen, Germany
BürgerBegehren Klimaschutz, Germany
CALG – Coalition against Land Grabbing, Philippines
CENSAT agua viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia, Colombia
Center for Environment – Friends of the Earth BiH, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Christliche Initiative Romero, Germany
CNV Internationaal, The Netherlands
Coal Action Network, UK
CoalSwarm, USA
Colombia Caravana UK Lawyers’ Group, UK
Colombia Solidaritet, Denmark
Colombia Solidarity Campaign, UK
ContraMINAcción, Galicia, Spain
Cooperacción, Peru
Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionäre, Germany
Earth Law Center, USA
Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria
Facing Finance, Germany
FIAN Deutschland, Germany
FNV Mondiaal, The Netherlands
Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika, Germany
Friends of the Earth Australia, Australia
Friends of the Earth Canada, Canada
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI), UK
Friends of the Earth International, International Network
Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
FUgE Hamm, Germany
GegenStrömung / CounterCurrent, Germany
GIP-LAWS (Ghana Integrated Platform on Land, Water and Seed Struggles), Ghana
Global 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria, Austria
groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, South Africa
Informationsstelle Peru, Germany
International Oil Working Group, International Network
JA!Justica Ambiental – FOE Mozambique, Mozambique
Kohleausstieg Berlin, Germany
kolko – Menschenrechte für Kolumbien, Germany
Kolumbiengruppe Hamburg, Germany
Latin American Mining Monitoring Programme, UK
Leave it in the Ground Inititative (LINGO), Mexico
Les Amis de la Terre, France
LIGA – Lüner Initiative gegen globale Armut, Germany
Lock the Gate Alliance, Australia
London Mining Network, UK
Market Forces, Australia
Network Movement for Justice and Development, Sierra Leone
NOAH – Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark
OCMAL – Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina, International Network
PAS – Pensamiento y Acción Social, Colombia
PAX, The Netherlands
pax christi Solidarität Eine Welt, Germany
philippinenbüro, Germany
PowerShift, Germany
Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland, Switzerland
Progressio, UK
Re:Common, Italy
Rettet den Regenwald, Germany
Robin Wood, Germany
Russian Social-Ecological Union – Friends of the Earth Russia, Russia
Salva la Selva, Spain
Sociedade Histórica e Cultural Coluna Sanfins, Galicia, Spain
Solidarity Sweden – Latin America, Sweden
SOMO, The Netherlands
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, South Africa
Southern Africa Rural Women’s Assembly, South Africa
terre des hommes – Hilfe für Kinder in Not, Germany
The Gaia Foundation, UK
The People’s Dialogue, International Network
This Changes Everything, UK
TNI – Transnational Institute, The Netherlands
Umweltgewerkschaft Düsseldorf, Germany
urgewald, Germany
Verdegaia, Galicia, Spain
Waterkeeper Alliance, International Network
WEED e.V. – World Economy, Ecology & Development, Germany
WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance, South Africa
Yasunidos Ecuador, Ecuador
Yasunidos Germany, Germany
YLNM – Yes to Life, No to Mining, International Network
Zelena Istra – Green Istria, Croatia