By Amy Lukau
Emilsen Manyoma, a prominent Afro-Colombian human rights activist, advocating for the rights of fellow Afro-Colombians was killed on January 17 2017. Her body along with her partners, Joe Javier Rodallega was found in an advanced state of decomposition in a jungle area beside the highway in the coast city of Buenaventura. Both had been beheaded.
The couple had been missing since Saturday. Manyoma, 32 played a key role in addressing and documenting attacks on human rights leaders in the region as part of the recently created Truth Commission.
Since 2005, Manyoma was active in the community network, CONPAZ where she spoke out against right wing paramilitary groups and the displacement of locals by international mining and agribusiness interest.
CONPAZ, the main national Black organization in the National Afro-Colombian Peace Council has demanded and lobbied the Colombian government to bring Afro-Colombian voices and interests to be addressed during the formation of the peace agreement which was voted against.
If passed, the peace agreement between the government and the country’s leftwing, guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) would have ended over fifty years of civil war. The agreement would have benefited those living in poverty in addition to Afro-Colombians living in rural and urban areas.
The death of Manyoma and Javier Rodallega is not uncommon for many Afro-Colombians, who make up 10.6% of the overall population. Yet, bear the brunt of killings in Colombia: murder, forced displacements in the countryside, and are often caught between fighting of guerrillas in the region and paramilitaries backed by the state and financed by drug traffickers and multinational corporations.