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Anti-Militarism: News & Updates
July 20, 2021
During her visit to Guatemala in early June, Vice President Kamala Harris made comments regarding migration to the southern U.S. border that sparked controversy.
July 15, 2021
President Biden’s pick to run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pledged Thursday to uphold the “rule of law” with a goal of improving public safety — and said he would not end a voluntary program that allows local law enforcement to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.
July 5, 2021
On June 29, the Bogotá-based Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP), announced that it was investigating 240 attacks on members of the press amid demonstrations that have been ongoing for the past two months, including 138 attacks by police. Two of those assaults happened on that very day. In Bogotá, police officers of the ESMAD unit (Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios, or Anti-Riot Squad) assaulted two journalists while they covered protests for the independent broadcaster RCN Radio. Katy Sánchez, a reporter, and Alexandra Molina, an intern, were attacked by police officers while they were filming ESMAD police beating and kicking a youth during the demonstration. One officer shoved Katy Sánchez to the ground with his shield, kicked her in the back, and hit her with his nightstick, leaving her with a badly sprained left ankle and bloodied knees—injuries that would prevent her from working for at least a week. We demand that the government of Colombia protect both the demonstrators and journalists who are reporting on their legitimate activities—activities that should be protected by their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
June 30, 2021
Please see a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, and (3) bring human rights criminals to justice. IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
June 25, 2021
State-sponsored violence against popular demonstrations has continued over the past several weeks, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 Colombians. In the Usme neighborhood of south Bogotá on June 21, ESMAD repeatedly attacked demonstrators, killing one person, injuring at least 42 and arresting many more. Jaime Alonso Fandiño, age 33, was killed after an ESMAD agent shot him in the chest with a high-powered projectile from close range. Media reports said that ESMAD agents also attacked medical teams and journalists, while threatening at least two human rights observers.
June 24, 2021
State security forces exercised brutal repression against demonstrators in the Chamelecón neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department, on June 18. Hundreds of residents of Chamelecón took to the streets to demand that the levee that protects their neighborhood from the waters of the Chamelecón River be repaired. Instead of having their voices heard and their needs responded to, they were faced with brutal repression by the National and Military Police.
June 21, 2021
National Civil Police used violent repression against a peaceful demonstration by residents of the community of Chicoyogüito, municipality of Cobán, Alta Verapaz Department. In 1968 the Q'eqchi families of Chicoyogüito were dispossessed and uprooted from their land by the Guatemalan state. In their place, the government built Military Base #21, a center where the army carried out forced disappearance, torture, execution, and burial of hundreds of indigenous men, women, and children. On June 9, community members demonstrated in Cobán, asking authorities for the return of their ancestral lands. The National Civil Police beat and injured several people. They arrested 21 men.
Needs Improvement: Amnesty International Progress Report on the Biden Administration Making the U.S. a Safe Refuge
June 17, 2021
A June 2021 report from Amnesty International showed the Biden administration needs improvement on making the U.S. a safe refuge.
Migrant Justice: 'I'm going to tase this kid': Government shelters are turning refugee children over to police
June 8, 2021
Ricardo Cisneros, the interim director of the Southwest Key Casa Blanca shelter in San Antonio, repeatedly gave the teen his word that the police wouldn’t touch him or take him anywhere. They just wanted the boy to come out. The boy sat motionless and didn’t touch anyone. Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Divers didn’t request evidence of the child’s alleged wrongdoing at the time. He did ask staff whether they wanted to press charges. After Cisneros said yes, the deputy shared his plan with the staff members: He would wait for his partner to arrive. “As soon as they get here, we’ll take care of this,” he said. The boy repeatedly asked what they were going to do with him. He was a refugee, an asylum seeker in the country without his parents and in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. The previous year, he’d fled a gang that had beaten him and, his family says, threatened his life in Honduras.
May 28, 2021
The Butler County Jail--one of four county jails in Ohio that has been detaining immigrants--is getting out of the business of “civil” immigration detention, and the community is celebrating. Advocates and lawyers spoke with reporters about this development in a Zoom meeting on May 28, which included remarks from people who had spent time in that jail. Sandra Ramírez described what it felt like to visit her brother at the Butler jail every week during the time he was detained there by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Watching him lose weight and become a shadow of himself was so painful for her, as a 16 year-old, and the scars remain with her and her family today. A year from now, Sandra hopes that immigrants are no longer detained in jails for ICE, and that everyone who needs it can have a path to citizenship. Read more about this important development at http://ohioimmigrant.org/. If you missed it, watch the press conference here.