The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) denounced this Monday night the murder of John Jairo Esquivel, leader and defender of human rights in Colombia, who would be the 55th activist assassinated so far in 2022, according to non-governmental organization (NGO) records.
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Esquivel was a member of the Peasant Guard and a member of the National Peasant Association (Asonalca), in the village of Salem, in the municipality of Fortúl, in the eastern department of Arauca.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) and other illegal armed structures have a presence in this area. The region belongs to the Second Division of the Colombian Army.
The Asonalca issued a statement on their social networks where they rejected and denounced the murder of their partner in the peasant struggle. “We hold the Colombian State responsible for these events and the actions committed against the social movement and its communities,” he said.
According to Asonalca, the persecution, stigmatization, prosecution and assassination of the social movement in the center-east of the country aggravates the humanitarian crisis in these territories in the face of the reconfiguration of the conflict through the axis of paramilitarism and genocide against Colombians.
The organization urged the international community and human rights organizations to accompany the communities to “help streamline and approve collective protection mechanisms and make visible the serious situation in the country.”
We reject and denounce the murder of our colleague JHON JAIRO ESQUIVEL in Saravena, Arauca. We hold the Colombian state responsible for these events and the actions committed against the social movement and its communities. pic.twitter.com/H88NdcciwM
— JOSÉ A. GALÁN ZORRO NATIONAL PEASANT ASSOCIATION (@Asonalca_)
April 19, 2022
Esquivel was assassinated in still unknown circumstances, according to Indepaz. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman’s Office issued Early Warning AT 029/19 for the municipalities of Arauquita, Fortul, Saravena, Tame (Arauca), in which it indicates actions of resurgence of violence due to confrontations between illegal armed structures.
These armed groups control the population and its mobility, carry out criminal actions to obtain illicit income, from the smuggling of fuel, livestock, merchandise and arms trafficking.