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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
January 26, 2020
The Living Water Association of the United Church of Christ and the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church have arranged for a free screening of this ground-breaking film. Just Mercy is the new film that tells the true story of Walter McMillian, who with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction.
January 26, 2020
We are outraged at the wave of violence that continues to impact many regions of Colombia. Since January 1, two dozen social leaders have been assassinated across the country. In this letter we list the names of 20 assassinations that occurred in 6 departments: Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó, Huila, Norte de Santander, and Putumayo. These victims include ex-combatants who are abiding by the provisions of the Peace Accords by participating in the reincorporation process. Also being killed are farmers who are part of the crop substitution program, another key component of the Peace Accords. We echo the statement by the United Nations Security Council on January 15 which characterizes this as “a grave situation of security” and demands that the government of Colombia take “effective actions” to stop these egregious crimes against social leaders.
January 25, 2020
As a survivor of the Bojayá Massacre in 2002, Leyner Palacios has become an outspoken social leader and, as a consequence, has suffered reprisals, including death threats. Since 2002, the communities of Bojayá have suffered serious human rights violations, including forced displacement and mass killings by paramilitary groups and the army. On December 31, 2019, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace denounced that 300 members of the AGC arrived at the Bojayá communities of Pogue, Corazón de Jesús, Loma de Bojayá and Cuia, placed them under forced confinement, and threatened to kill them if they tried to resist. On January 3, 2020, they threatened Leyner Palacios, warning him to leave Bojayá or he would be killed.
NO RELIEF IN SIGHT: PRESIDENT ALEJANDRO GIAMATTEI APPEARS TO BE A NEW FACE BACKED BY THE SAME OLD CRIMINAL NETWORKS
January 15, 2020
President-elect Alejandro Giammattei took office yesterday in Guatemala City. Giammattei comes to the presidency backed by a group of hard-line former military officers reportedly associated with the sector that opposed the peace process that ended Guatemala’s 36-year civil war. Many are also associated with industries that extract resources from rural communities – often with US, Canadian and European investment – a sector Giammattei has pledged to promote. In one of CICIG’s first prosecutions, on August 9, 2010 an arrest warrant was issued against Giammattei on charges of extrajudicial execution related to violent deaths in the Pavon prison on September 25, 2006 while he was the National Director of the Penitentiary System. His then assistant and three police officers were arrested that day, but Giammattei, apparently alerted, had requested political asylum days before in Honduras’ embassy in Guatemala. His request was denied, so on August 13, 2010 he was taken into detention on the Mariscal Zavala military base.
January 15, 2020
* Daniel Berrigan would describe my first arrest as a "yogurt arrest", because it went down easy. Read here about why it was so tame and why I did it.
January 12, 2020
SURJ moves people who identify as white into accountable action to dismantle racism as part of a multi-racial movement for justice and liberation through community organizing, education, mobilizing, and direct action.
January 11, 2020
On December 29, the body of Efraín Martínez Martínez was found semi-buried in the department of Fransisco Morazán after having been reported missing a week prior. Efraín Martínez was a leader of the indigenous Tolupán community in Montaña La Flor. The Tolupán people are historically one of the most impoverished and isolated groups in Honduras. Just a few days later, on January 3 the tortured body of Santos Felipe Escobar García was found in El Carbón, Olancho Department. Family members had reported his disappearance on December 29, when he was apparently abducted. Santos Felipe Escobar was a leader of the indigenous Pech community of Santa María del Carbón.
January 5, 2020
The spaghetti dinner is an IRTF staple and, this year, Quin and Paul are looking to add a bit of intrigue by expanding the evening to include TRIVIA—every brainiac's favorite time to show off how very much stuff they have crammed into their noggins!
December 26, 2019
We are appalled to learn of the current efforts to re-open operations at the Canadian-owned Escobal silver mine near San Rafael Las Flores in Santa Rosa Department. In July 2017, the Supreme Court suspended mine operations because of discrimination and failure to consult with the indigenous Xinka peoples. In February 2019, Pan American Silver of Vancouver, Canada, purchased the Escobal mine. They are endeavoring to fast-track reopening the mine without the court-ordered consultation or consent of the Xinka people. In October 2018, the Xinka Parliament expressed their willingness to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) in the process of reviewing the area of Xinca rights. To date, MARN has not included the Xinca people in any phase of the planning process.
December 25, 2019
We are extremely concerned about the continuing threatsfrom the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the paramilitary Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC). ELN and AGC armed groups operating in Bojayá, are causing at least 2,250 people to live under forced confinement and life-threatening risk. Hostile actions include deployed landmines in the few areas with telephone coverage, which is restricting communities’ access to healthcare, food, water, and communication.