According to today's news, the corpses of North American Indigenous sisters, INGRID WASHINAWATOK and LAHE'ENA'E GAY, and a biologist and defender of the rights of the U'wa Peoples, TERENCE FREITAS, were found. They had been abducted on their way from Cubará to Saravena, Arauca apparently, by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on February 25th.
The Native Americans and representative of aN NGO were visiting the U'wa territory and carrying out cultural exchange activities. The NGO as other North American Indigenous groups had been supporting the struggle of the U'wa Peoples for the defense of their territory against the threat of petroleum exploitation from Occidental of Colombia.
The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), strongly denounces the crime against our brothers, sisters, and friends from North America. We condemn this act and consider it a demonstration against the rights of the U'wa and other Indigenous Peoples of Colombia.
To the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) we express our repudiation and demand a clarification about this crime committed against our rights. We cannot accept that persons who defend the rights of social sectors, seriously threatened from the extreme right, would also be victims of armed groups that say they defend the popular sectors. We are calling on friends of indigenous people from all over the world to speak out.
To the relatives, friends, and colleagues of our Indigenous sisters and brothers and North American friends we want to express our condolences and solidarity, with the certainty that this act will not go unpunished and inspire us even more in the defense of our rights and the rights of all Indigenous Peoples in the world.
That the bodies of our brothers and sisters become rocks
so that the Land may remain in balance;
That their blood replace the blood that others take away from Kerachikará;
That their spirits be united with the flight of the Tijeretas
and look after the space of the U'wa and Indigenous Peoples of the Americas;
That their words and commitment
be kept in our memory and the memory of Sira.
Que los cuerpos de nuestros hermanos se coloquen como piedras
para que la Tierra se mantenga en equilibrio;
que su sangre reemplace la sangre que otros le quitan a Kerachikará;
que sus espíritus se unan al vuelo de las Tijeretas
cuiden el espacio de los U'wa y de los Pueblos Indígenas de América;
que su palabra y su entrega solidaria se mantengan en nuestra memoria y en la de Sira.
Santafé de Bogotá, D.C.
March 5, 1999
translated by Mariana Viturro, Abya Yala Fund with the permission of ONIC.