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Colombia: News & Updates
Colombia has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (five million) due to the half-century internal armed conflict—the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere (since 1964). Control for territory and popular support among the three main groups (left-wing rebel forces FARC & ELN, right-wing paramilitaries, Colombian police/military) has left 220,000 killed, 75% of them non-combatants. Since 2000, the US has exacerbated the violence by sending more than $9 billion in mostly military assistance. Colombia, which has both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, holds strategic interest for the US for global trade and military posturing.
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RRN Case Update
February 13, 2020
RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
February 5, 2020
The Cleveland Immigration Working Group is engaged in a number of immigrant defense and support activities. We need more volunteer help. Please read below and consider helping with some of these needs: A. Safe Hotels Campaign B. Rapid Response Team C. Bond Packets for Release from Detention D. Court Monitoring E. Bus Reception F. Public Actions G. Sponsor Families H. Help for ICE Raid Victims and those in detention I. Prayer Support . If you would like to learn more about any of these initiatives, please email email@example.com or call (216) 961 0003.
January 27, 2020
Last week the Special Justice for Peace excavated what could be Colombia's largest mass grave under State crimes known as "false positives”. The "false positives" scandal was a series of murders in Colombia, part of the armed conflict in that country between the government and guerrilla forces of the FARC and the ELN. Members of the military had poor or mentally impaired civilians lured to remote parts of the country with offers of work, killed them, and presented them to authorities as guerrilleros killed in battle, in an effort to inflate body counts and receive promotions or other benefits.
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.
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 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.
December 23, 2019
We are quite concerned about the safety of staff and members of the human rights organization dhColombia (Asociación Red de defensores y defensoras de derechos humanos). Since the beginning of November, members of dhColombia have been surveilled by unknown men outside their homes and office. Prior to this, in August a member of dhColombia faced communication espionage, theft of sensitive information, and death threats. dhColombia made a request on October 4 for protection measures from the National Protection Unit (UNP); to our knowledge, they have not received a response.
December 22, 2019
We are shocked at three assassinations that occurred during the national strike that started on November 21. December 2 - Two unidentified attackers killed Manuel Santos Yatacue as he walked with his partner near the Elvira reincorporation zone in Buenos Aires in Cauca Department. Elvira is one of 24 areas where former members of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) are based as they transition to civil society under the terms of the 2016 peace agreement. Manuel Santos Yatacue was a member of one of the local collectives establishing coffee production. Illegal armed groups, opposed to the peace process, are still vying for control over the illegal gold mining activities that continue there.
December 13, 2019
Michael Joseph is the UCC Global Ministries Mission Co-Worker in Colombia.The violence related to Colombia’s war was on the rise in the early 2000s when church and human rights partners in Colombia became concerned about a huge increase in U.S. military aid that they feared would add more fuel to the fire. They decided to document, as best they could, the impact of this war on the Protestant church in Colombia. Michael joined this documentation program after going to Colombia with Global Ministries in 2007. Today, twelve years later, this human rights documentation program has recorded over 10,000 human rights violations. In 2020 he will transition to working at the Nojolo'on Peace Center in Mexico as a Global Ministries Global Associate.