Freiner Lemus was a member and leader of the indigenous Nasa people on the Togoima reservation in vereda Guadualejo in the municipality of Páez in Cauca. He was also an athlete and a recognised ancestral authority.
On Sunday 13 December, 2020, a group of heavily armed men arrived on the reservation. They sought out Freiner and when they found him, they shot him dead.
The killing occurred around 8:00 pm on the Sunday just prior to an emergency meeting of indigenous leaders on the reservation which had been scheduled to take place on the Monday to discuss the issue of conflicts in the community linked to the general level of violence in the area.
By October 2020, 54 members of indigenous communities had been killed in Colombia, the majority of which occurred in the departments of Chocó, Nariño and Cauca. The violence has continued despite the increased presence of the 29th Brigade of the Army and the Rapid Deployment Force (FUDRA) which between them account for about 10,000 men.
In a statement, leaders of the 17 indigenous authorities grouped in the Association of Territorial Ancestral Authorities, Nasa Çxha çxha, rejected “Any act of violence generated by armed groups, wherever they come from.” The statement continued: “The only thing this violence generates is pain, anger and sadness, destroying communities and damaging the interests and the lives of the people who live in the territories’.