At least four members of the Wilu community, made up of indigenous people from the Mayangna tribe, were killed by land colonists on March 11. The crime took place within the Bosawas Biological Reserve, and was perpetrated by a group of some 70 armed land colonists who entered the indigenous territory. The denunciation came from the Mayangna Sauni As Territorial Government, which also noted that three other community members suffered bullet wounds.
The statement from the indigenous government group also accused the invading colonists of setting fire to the homes of indigenous families. “All of the houses have been burned to the ground. The families have been left unprotected, with no food or clothing, since they barely escaped with their lives.”
The victims are: Alberto Castillo Palacios, 20; Jorge Enor Palacios Samuel, 23; Lenin Vilchez Patron Flores; and Jasmin Jacobo Lazaro. Those wounded by gunfire are : Duts Castillo, Florencio Patron and Mario Patron.
“There may well be more fatal victims in the community of Wilu, very possibly women and children. Given the distance and the difficult access to the place this occurred, the exact number of houses burnt down and of fatal victims hasn’t yet been determined.
The Sani As Forest Rangers issued a separate statement, detailing that the attack was timed to take advantage of the fact that “the men of the community had left to tend the harvest, leaving mostly women and children in the community.” That’s when the colonists attacked, burned down 16 houses and killed two cows. The only buildings left standing in the community were the church, the pastor’s house and the school, the forest rangers assured.
They further noted that this is the second time invading groups of land colonists have attacked the Wilu community. The first attack occurred in 2017. In February 2022 the Musawas, Suniwas and Wilu communities of the Mayangna Sauni As Territory, located in Nicaragua’s North Caribbean Autonomous Region, had been granted protective measures from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.
Five community members abducted and released the day before
The Sauni As government also denounced the abduction of another five community members on Friday, March 10. According to descriptions, the five were traveling from Musawas to the community of Bethlehem for a church mission, but were kidnapped as they prepared to cross the Waspuk River.
The abducted members of the community are: Canicio Taylor Ramon, 50; Antonio Gadea Devis, 38; Jose Jiron, 50; and two children, 10 and 12 years old respectively. All five were freed the following day.
“The identity of those responsible for the kidnapping is unknown; however, they’re presumed to be the illegal colonists and other outsiders who’ve been active in the zone, usurping and trafficking the communal lands within the Sauni As territory,” the Sauni As government representatives asserted.
The representatives of the Sauni As Territorial Government have requested that a high-level inter-institutional commission be urgently activated to: “immediately resolve the situation of the land invasion taking place in our communal and community lands.”
They reiterated that these attacks are part of a series of systematic aggressions and incursions that the Mayangna population in Nicaragua has suffered. “On repeated occasions, we’ve gone to the government offices at the municipal, departmental and regional level in search of help, but they’ve all ignored our demands completely,” the delegation lamented.
Other attacks this year
The Center for Legal Assistance of Indigenous Peoples also denounced that on March 6, 2023, a group of colonists attacked the indigenous people in the Musawas community, also located within the Bosawas reserve, wounding three community members with a knife.
The attack occurred when the community members discovered the colonist on their lands and demanded that they leave. An argument ensued, and the colonists subsequently assaulted them.
“A woman and one of the men (both from the indigenous community) received knife wounds on their fingers, while the other person of Mayangna origin present suffered a bullet wound to the chest. He is currently in very serious condition in a hospital in the city of Bonanza,” the Center stated.
Another two cases of aggression and murder took place this year, both a few months prior to the March incidents. The first occurred on January 19, on the Asang Naini hill, located in Kahkah, part of the Musawas community. On that occasion, Cardinios Frithzs Macario, 46, was abducted and beaten. He also received stab wounds on his right hand.
On February 21, 2023, Alexander Urbina Mora, a police officer of Miskito origin working with the Special Operations Division, was killed during a clash with colonists in the sector known as “Seven Houses” located in Alto Wangki, within the Bosawas sector.