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Anti-Militarism: News & Updates

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On January 21, a coalition of Afro-Colombian, Indigenous, and Campesino communities represented by the Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) published a statement addressed to the Biden-Harris administration outlining recommendations for peacebuilding priorities in Colombia. The recommendations include: a full commitment to the agreed terms of the 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), resume peace dialogues with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and advance humanitarian minimums, dismantle illegal armed groups following community input, enforce agrarian reform, implement illicit crop substitution programs, and strengthen rural judicial institutions.
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Four-year-old María Ángel Molina was recently found dead in rural Colombia, making her one of 18 confirmed cases of femicide this year- with 13 more cases pending verification. Rights groups are concerned about the safety of women and girls, particularly during lockdowns due to coronavirus which forces them indoors with abusive men. Femicide Foundation Colombia, an NGO that provides support for women and tracks gender-based violence, in 2020 confirmed 229 femicides, of which 35 were girls, and is trying to verify a further 260 cases. Horrifying murders of women and girls are not uncommon in Colombia, and are sometimes committed by authority figures. In June 2020, scandal engulfed the military after seven soldiers gang-raped a 13-year-old indigenous girl. “We know that this is not an isolated issue, it is structural,” said Aida Quilcue, at the time a human rights adviser at the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).
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By the 1980s, the FARC had territorial control of the town of Palestina, Huila Department. Enrique Chimonja says: “what happened was repression and in some way the assassination and extermination of campesino leaders, [putting] a permanent fear in the population.” His own father (Tuliio Enrique Chimonja, age 33) was forcibly disappeared in 1983. “ Tulio Enrique Chimonja is one of many campesinos who lost his life — or in his case, enforced disappearance — for having found himself in the middle of an armed conflict,” Enrique says. Now, Enrique, his family, and other victims are occupying the mechanisms of transitional justice set up after the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP to expand their search for truth and justice, and finally find Enrique’s father. Using these institutions, they hope to empower themselves and find closure for the tragedy that has marked their lives for over 30 years. It is not a perfect process, but Chimonja pushes forward anyway in a search for truth and to honor the memory of his father.
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From No More Deaths: Part 2 of the Disappeared series concluded that the culture and policies of the US Border Patrol as a law-enforcement agency both authorize and normalize acts of cruelty against border crossers. On February 3 we will be releasing Part 3 of Disappeared, called Left to Die: Border Patrol, Search & Rescue, and the Crisis of Disappearance. The report explores the discriminatory and inadequate search and rescue practices for those presumed to be undocumented in the borderlands, and the systemic interference by Border Patrol of family and community search efforts.
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By the 1980s, the FARC had territorial control of the town of Palestina, Huila Department. Enrique Chimonja says: “what happened was repression and in some way the assassination and extermination of campesino leaders, [putting] a permanent fear in the population.” His own father (Tuliio Enrique Chimonja, age 33) was forcibly disappeared in 1983. “ Tulio Enrique Chimonja is one of many campesinos who lost his life — or in his case, enforced disappearance — for having found himself in the middle of an armed conflict,” Enrique says. Now, Enrique, his family, and other victims are occupying the mechanisms of transitional justice set up after the 2016 Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP to expand their search for truth and justice, and finally find Enrique’s father. Using these institutions, they hope to empower themselves and find closure for the tragedy that has marked their lives for over 30 years. It is not a perfect process, but Chimonja pushes forward anyway in a search for truth and to honor the memory of his father.
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The year 2020 was the most violent in Colombia since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016, with widespread attacks on social activists, trade unionists and former guerrillas in the peace process. The figures released by the INDEPAZ human rights NGO make for shocking reading. During the calendar year, 309 social activists and human rights defenders were killed (totalling 1,109 since the peace agreement was signed) and 64 FARC former guerrillas were killed (249 in total). There were also 90 massacres which claimed the lives of 375 people. Additionally, state security forces killed at least 78 people.
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Nina Lakhani

Another indigenous environmentalist has been killed in Honduras, cementing the country’s inglorious ranking as the deadliest place in the world to defend land and natural resources from exploitation.

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