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09BOGOTA2765 2009-08-28 21:26:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

LATEST AWA MASSACRE INCITES SWIFT RESPONSE, BUT

Tags:   PHUM PGOV PTER KJUS PREL MOPS MCAP CO 
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1. (C) Unknown actors murdered 12 Awa indigenous--including
six minors--in their home the morning of Wednesday, August


26. Four people reportedly survived the attack. One of the
victims, Tulia Garcia Guanga, was allegedly the sole witness
to the May 25 'false positive'--military homicide reported as
combat kill--murder of her husband. Garcia is said to have
received numerous threats. Many groups blamed the military
for the massacre. The GOC launched an immediate
investigation, and requested that a representative of the
United Nations High Commission for Human Rights participate.
The Embassy provided Plan Colombia Helicopter Program
transport for troops to secure the zone. The Embassy
informed to the GOC it stands ready to provide logistical
assistance to support the investigation. End Summary

TWELVE AWA MURDERED, SOME POINT TO MILITARY


--------------------------





2. (U) Twelve members of an extended family in the Awa
indigenous community were murdered in their home in the early
morning hours of Wednesday, August 26. The murders took
place in the Gran Rosario reserve 80 kilometers from Tumaco
(Narino). According to press reports, approximately ten
masked men dressed in camouflage entered the house around 5
AM. The armed actors shot the inhabitants, many of whom were
still sleeping. The Human Rights Ombudsman's (Defensoria)
early warning system office (SAT) told us the twelve dead
included six minors between the ages of 17 years and six
months. SAT indicated two adults and a child of 12 were
wounded but survived.



3. (U) Gabriel Bisbicus, president of the Awa People's
Indigenous Unit (Unipa) reported that one of the
victims--Tulia Garcia Guanga--had publicly denounced the May
25 'false positive' murder of her husband Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Bisbicus attributed the motive to an intent to silence
Garcia's testimony. He claimed "dark forces" had conducted
the murders with the complicity of the military.



4. (C) Ismael Paredes, head of press relations for the
National Organization for the Indigenous of Colombia (ONIC),
told us Garcia was the sole witness to the alleged murder of
her husband and had received numerous threats after she
reported the crime to the Prosecutor General's office
(Fiscalia). Paredes said the three wounded witnesses were
not in a physical condition to provide information at this
time and additionally required physical protection before
they would feel comfortable speaking out. He indicated one
other witness fled the house without injury. Paredes would
not speculate as to the actors of the crime, but said the
"facts speak for themselves."



5. (U) The Governor of Narino, Antonio Navarro, said it was
too soon to determine who had committed the crime, but
underscored that the modus operandi--including recovering the
bullet shells-- distinguished the murders from recent FARC
mass killings. Navarro described the shear brutality of the
act, including shooting the six-month old infant four times
in the head.

GOC LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION


--------------------------





6. (U) President Uribe announced that the Prosecutor
General office's human rights unit would handle the case and
promised a thorough investigation. Uribe expressed his
sorrow over the event and promised the GOC would confront
illegal armed group activity in Narino. The GOC and Narino
department offered a combined reward of approximately $65,000
USD for information on the case. Christian Salazar, Chief of

Mission for the United Nations High Commission for Human
Rights (UNHCHR) told us the GOC had requested UNHCHR
participation in its fact-finding mission this week and said
he would travel with the GOC delegation.

EMBASSY RESPONSE


--------------------------





7. (C) The Embassy's Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) will
provide logistical support to the GOC and has committed four
helicopters from the Plan Colombia Helicopter Program to
transport troops to secure the zone of investigation. NAS
agreed to a GOC request to transport one survivor--a minor
child--out of the area, but ultimately the GOC moved the
child by road. The Embassy has conveyed its willingness to
provide logistical assistance to the investigation. The
Legal Attache is processing a request from Uribe to assist in
the case.
Brownfield