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Human Rights Banquet: 39th annual Commemoration of the Martyrs of Central America and Colombia

Sunday, November 3, 2019
Beaumont School, 3301 N. Park Blvd, Cleveland Heights 44118


Guest speaker from Colombia: Natalia García Cortés, War Resisters International – Bogotá, Colombia

On December 2, 1980, four US church women working with the poor and displaced in El Salvador were kidnapped, raped and murdered by the US-backed military of El Salvador. Two of those women—Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel—were from Cleveland. In the end, they, along with Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, met the same fate as thousands of unnamed poor of El Salvador who were killed or disappeared.

Join us on Sunday, November 3 as we commemorate their sacrifice, honor their legacy, and recommit ourselves to act in solidarity with poor and marginalized communities in Central America and Colombia.



4:00pm: social hour, live music by Chakai Manta, raffle, silent auction, fair trade sales

5:30pm: speaker program (preceded by interfaith prayer service)

6:45pm: dinner (vegetarian and vegan options available)


$35 advance. $45 at the door

dinner table for 8: $250

Purchase tickets online, or call in your reservation by Friday Nov 1 to IRTF.

Walk-ins also welcome .

Info: 216 961 0003

Held at Beaumont School, 3301 N Park Blvd, Cleveland Heights (corner of Lee Rd and Fairmount Blvd). Enter from N Park Blvd side of the school.


About our guest speaker from Colombia:  Natalia García Cortés

About our guest speaker:  Natalia García Cortés

Natalia is based in Bogotá working with the Right to Refuse to Kill program of War Resisters International (WRI),  a global network of grassroots anti-militarist and pacifist groups, working together for a world without war. (Many IRTF friends are familiar with War Resisters League, the US branch of WRI.)

Natalia is a sociologist, with a specialization in feminist and gender studies at the National University of Colombia. Her research has focused on violence against women, sexual harassment and consent, and sociology of the body. She is a feminist committed to grassroots work including and involving women in their neighborhoods and communities. She has facilitated workshops on human rights and political training for women. 

WRI was founded in 1921 in opposition to all wars. Even wars of 'liberation' and 'humanitarian military intervention' are used to serve some power ­political or economic interest. All war leads to suffering, destruction, and new structures of domination.

The global anti-war network has over 90 affiliates in 40 countries. The WRI network facilitates mutual support by:

-initiating nonviolent campaigns that actively involve local groups and individuals

-supporting those who oppose war and who challenge its causes

-promoting pacifism and nonviolence through education

-linking people together through publications, events and actions


Three of WRI’s international programs are run out of the London office:

1. The Right to Refuse to Kill 

2. Nonviolence Programme

3. Countering the Militarisation of Youth.

Read more about the important work and legacy of War Resisters International on their website.


Anti-Militarism in Movement: Narratives of Resistance to War

In the summer of 2019, the War Resisters International branch in Colombia, together with other peace and resistance organizations in Colombia, led an international conference exploring the intersecting experiences of war and militarism (and resistance) from around the world. The goal was to form interconnected relationships based on mutual understanding, shared analysis, and future cooperation and collective organizing. Participants shared their experiences of:

  • organizing subsistence farmers in Colombia
  • community resistance to extractivist and large-scale infrastructure projects in Latin America
  • resisting militarization of the Mexico/US border,
  • campaigning against arms fairs and nuclear weapons in Europe
  • building peace communities in post-conflict areas like South Sudan

Conference participants did the work of building “peaces” (plural to reflect the complexity and diversity of how peace is manifested) by identifying common concerns, framing and understanding, and then mapping out their work and networks of relationships. They organized around three key themes: 1- Diverse Peaces, 2- Just Peaces, and 3- Sustainable Peaces.  They identified two dozen action points and developed many into action plans.

Each of the key peace themes was divided into a sub-theme group, facilitated by Colombian organizers who led participants through a series of exercises:

1- Diverse Peaces

Exclusion (discrimination)

Identities (patriarchy, heteronormativity, feminisms)

Fear and social control (militarization of media and technologies, militarization of education)


2- Just Peaces

Repressive models (youth militarization, criminalization of protest, police militarization)

Political transitions and justice models (security, punitive justice models hegemonic models of conflict resolution)


3- Sustainable Peaces

Environment (climate change, climate justice)

Territory (land, border conflicts, access to resources)

Development (extractivism, wealth concentration, agriculture, arms trade)

The conference brought together a diverse range of participants to share experiences and communication across borders. This means that the outcomes of the conference will be distributed in ways relevant to particular contexts and experiences. A focus on building towards future projects will allow participants to evaluate over the next year some impacts of the conference.

Conscientious Objection

Participants included Colombian men who have refused to participate in their country’s 50-year armed conflict.  “I am not a weapon of war”: Read a statement by conscientious objectors in Colombia here.


Human Rights Banquet: 39th annual Commemoration of the Martyrs of Central America and Colombia

Tickets are still available. See