Six human rights defenders killed in Colombia

Six human rights defenders, Maritza Quiroz Leiva, Wilson Pérez Ascanio, José Rafael Solano, Wilmer Antonio Miranda, Jesús Adier Perafán, and Gilberto Valencia were killed in violent attacks in Colombia during the first week of 2019.

Maritza Quiroz Leiva was deputy of the Victims Committee of Santa Marta and the leader of a group of Afro-Colombian women who have been victims of enforced displacement in rural areas. At 3am on 7 January 2019, Maritza Quiroz Leiva was killed by unidentified armed men who broke into her rural property in San Isidro, in Sierra Nevada, Santa Marta. Before the armed men entered her house, Maritza Quiroz Leiva asked her son Luis Camilo Bermúdez Quiroz to hide under the bed, from were he heard the shots. He ran to a police station as soon as the killers left.

Wilson Pérez Ascanio, member of the Movement for the Popular Constituent. On 5 January 2019, he was shot by unidentified armed men on a motorcycle in Hacarí, Norte de Santander. He was transferred to a nearby hospital in La Playa de Belén, but died in the early hours of 6 January 2019.

José Rafael Solano was president of the Community Action Board. At 5pm on 4 January 2019, unidentified armed men shot him dead in front of his house, between the municipalities of Zaragoza and Caucasia, in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia. His family witnessed the crime.

Wilmer Antonio Miranda was a member of the Cajibio Peasant Workers Association.  At 6pm on 4 January 2019, he was shot by four unidentified men, dressed as civilians, and died immediately.

Jesús Adier Perafán was citizen inspector of the Caicedonia municipality. On 1 January 2019, he was shot at repeatedly while he was at the grocery store by unidentified armed men, who subsequently escaped on motorcycles. Jesús Adier Perafán was taken to the Santander de Caicedonia Hospital, where he died of his gunshot wounds.

Gilberto Valencia was cultural manager of the Suárez municipality in Cauca, who worked to disseminate the terms of the Colombian Peace Agreement through music. He was shot dead during a New Year’s Eve celebration with his family and friends in the municipality of Suárez, Cauca.

Colombia has seen an increase in violence against human rights defenders since the signing of the Peace Agreement with the FARC-EP. Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the wave of killings of human rights defenders in Colombia, which witnessed more killings of defenders than any other country worldwide in 2018. It deplore to notice a pattern of killings against defenders in the country, which often feature armed attacks by unidentified armed men.

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