Land mine kills elderly Indian man in Colombia

February 14, 2012

Indigenous Jiw people in Colombia have been systematically forced from their homes by armed groups © Survival

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An elderly Indian man has been killed by a land mine in the Mapiripán district of central Colombia.

Juan Bautista Ladino, a member of the displaced Jiw tribe (also known as the Guayabero), was on his way to catch fish for his family when he stepped on an explosive laid by an armed group.

Ladino’s death is the latest in a string of attacks against the Jiw, who have been uprooted from their homes by Colombia’s internal war between guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and the army.

In 2008 a young Jiw woman and her nine-month old baby were also killed after stepping on a land mine.

The Jiw have been forced to resettle in camps close to the Nukak tribe, while violence on their land continues.

Both tribes are in danger of extinction according to the UN.

In a statement, Jiw organization NAXAEN said, ‘We feel trapped by the armed conflict that seems intent on persecuting us. Even when we flee from our homes to escape it the armed groups use us as human shields. They repeatedly attack our territories and forbid us from collecting the daily sustenance we need to survive.

‘We, the Jiw, do not want to participate in this conflict.’

The organization has asked the Colombian government to act immediately and take control of the region to safeguard the Jiw’s survival.