CASA sends letter to Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland

Toronto, August 7, 2018

 

Honourable Justin Trudeau,

Prime Minister of Canada

Hon. Chrystia Freeland,

Minister of Foreign Affairs

 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland:

 

We the undersigned, are asking the Canadian government to act and pressure the newly elected Colombian government of President Iván Duque, to protect the lives of social and community leaders who are experiencing an escalation of violence and systemic murder. We also ask the Canadian government to take clear steps to ensure the democratic right to protest.

Since the signing of the final peace agreement between the outgoing government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC in November 24, 2016, targeted threats and assassinations of social and community leaders have intensified. According to homicides registered by the Defensoria del Pueblo (Ombudsman), between January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018 more than 300 community leaders, including peasant, Indigenous, trade union, student, Afro-Colombian, neighbourhood leaders and political opposition activists, have been murdered. In addition, 84 former FARC guerillas and their families, who demobilised, have been murdered.

During the campaign leading up to the May 27, 2018 presidential election, we also witnessed an increase in threats and selective murders targeting activists associated with left and centre-left political parties, including the Colombia Humana movement.

The election of the Duque government imperils the prospect of sustainable peace in Colombia. Duque and his right-wing Centro Democratico (CD) party opposed the peace agreement and has consistently hindered its implementation. For example, the CD attacked the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or JEP. The JEP is the transitional justice system enshrined in the peace agreement. It is intended to investigate and prosecute all actors (state, FARC and civilian) who committed or were complicit in crimes related to the armed conflict. The CD’s opposition to the JEP in the Congress resulted in limiting its investigative scope and excluding the participation of so-called “third-parties”. Effectively, this means that non-state actors, including politicians or businesspeople who supported or financed human rights violations or war crimes are not obligated to testify before the JEP.

Furthermore, the CD temporarily excluded the participation of members of the police and military in the JEP stating that they should have their own transitional justice tribunal separate from the FARC. These measures omit crucial information for the public understanding of the historical record of more than 50 years of internal armed conflict. Worse, it guarantees impunity, for crimes committed by state officials, army, policy and powerful economic elites.

Duque also campaigned on a promise to merge the country’s different courts into one super-court influenced by the Executive branch of government. This decision means the investigation by the Supreme Court against former president Alvaro Uribe Velez may be eliminated, resulting in the exoneration for any crimes that he may have committed.

In addition, the CD opposed the approval of an important law in Congress, the Circunscripciones Especiales para la Paz. This law would have granted victims of the armed conflict and the regions which they inhabit representation in the Colombian Parliament through the creation of designated seats.

President Duque plans to reform the Land Restitution Law, which according to experts would prevent lands violently snatched from tens of thousands of displaced rural communities to be returned to them.

A failure to implement these aspects of the peace agreement could mean a return to war. Endless cycles of armed conflict are detrimental not only to the stability and well-being of the Colombians, but of the hemisphere. Such a failure is a betrayal of the aspirations for peace of Colombians, especially for the victims, who endured decades of armed conflict. It is also a serious breach of the international commitments made by the Colombian State with the signing of the peace agreement.

As Canadian citizens and residents, we urge our Government to assume a firm stance with the Colombian State and its new Government. First, we ask the Canadian government to demand an immediate end to the killings of social and community movement leaders. Second, we ask the Canadian Government to demand that the Colombian government respect and implement all aspects of the peace agreement. Canada must also ensure that development aid funds for community projects that implement various aspects of the peace agreement are monitored for appropriate use.

Behind every murdered leader and activist is a family and community suffering a deep loss. Also lost are the aspirations of thousands of people who dream of living in a more just society.

Signed,

(Original letter has 47 signatures)

 

If you would like to sign this letter, please send your name, city and postal code to: colombiactionsolidarity@gmail.com

August 7th: VIGIL IN SOLIDARITY WITH COLOMBIAN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

VELATON EN SOLIDARIDAD CON EL MOVIMIENTO SOCIAL COLOMBIANO

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Corner of Bloor St. West & Spadina Ave.

Mark Cohen Park

 

Colombian Action Solidarity Alliance – CASA y

Latin-American & Caribbean Solidarity Network – LACSN

los invita a participar en el Velaton en Solidaridad con el Movimiento Social en Colombia:

CASA & LACSN invite you to participate in this Vigil in solidarity

with Colombian social movements:

-Rechazamos las amenazas y el genocidio perpetrado por fuerzas paramilitares y el terrorismo de estado.

We reject these threats being perpetrated by paramilitary groups and state terrorism.

-Repudiamos el asesinato de mas de 326 lideres sociales pertenecientes a comunidades indigenas, afrodescendientes, lideres comunales, defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas y ex-combatientes y sus familiares, crimenes cometidos a partir de la firma del Acuerdo de Paz, Noviembre del 2016, que hasta la fecha de hoy se hallan en la mas completa impunidad!!

 We reject the murder of more than 326 Indigenous, Afro-Descendant, community leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and former FARC-combatants and their family members. These murders have occurred since the signing of the Peace Accords in November 2016 and all remain unprosecuted and in complete impunity!

 

No mas Amenazas!

No more threats!

No mas Genocidio!

No more genocide!

No mas Impunidad!

No more impunity!

Por la construccion de la Paz en Colombia!!

In support of building peace in Colombia

 

Agosto 7, 2018, Movilizaciones Internacionales Por La Paz Y La Vida

Agenda Internacional de Paz

La comunidad internacional realizará acciones ante la ONU en Nueva York, Caminata hacia la corte de la Haya, La Corte Internacional de Justicia CIJ, en Holanda así como concentraciones en Londres, Edinburgo, Washington, Miami, Quebec, Montreal, Australia, Berlín, Berna (Suiza), Barcelona, Elché en España, Estocolmo, Costa Rica y en otras ciudades Europeas y Latinoamericanas.

 

No es tiempo de callar ante los hechos desafortunados que están ocurriendo, nosotros los Colombianos en el exterior también somos la voz de los pueblos y comunidades olvidadas por el gobierno.

 

#NosEstánMatando

#QueLaPazNoNosCuesteLaVida

#ColombiaSOS

NGOs Condemn Arrest of 30 Indigenous, Social Leaders Over ‘Links to ELN’

The non-governmental organizations are demanding the release of the Indigenous and Afro Colombian leaders.

 

TeleSUR. Published 21 April 2018

Non-governmental and social organizations in Colombia denounced Friday the arrest of 30 human rights advocates and social leaders in the southeast provinces of Valle del Cauca, Cauca, and Nariño over their alleged links to the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The five groups, which work in the region, published a joint statement announcing the arrest of “several leaders of the Indigenous and Afro-Descendants communities” and calling for their release.

The Association for Social Research and Action, the Intercultural University of the Peoples, the Process of Black Communities, the Victims’ Movement and the Peoples’ Congress said in the statement “we have not been able to determine where some of the detained people have been taken to, and there is no official statement by the competent authorities.”

Sara Quiñonez and Tulia Valencia, mother, and daughter are among those detained. According to local newspaper El Espectador, they are part of the community council of Alto Mira and Frontera and have been victims of forced displacement twice.

Quiñonez, who is well known for fighting for the individual and collective rights of the Afro-Colombian community, was first forced to move in 2015 after receiving threats for her work as president of the community’s council. Two years later, in 2017 she had to move again after another series of threats.

The NGOs have called on the national and international community to “accompany this request and urgently demand guarantees for life and the defense of human rights” for those who have been arrested.

According to the joint statement, many of the people detained participated in the peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government in Quito. “They have been accused rebellion and linked to the armed group.”

In February around 40 social organizations met with the ELN in Quito to ask the insurgent group to resume peace talks with the Colombian government, which were threatened after an ELN attack against Colombia state security forces prompted president Juan Manuel Santos to withdraw from the negotiations.

In March, the government and the ELN decided to resume peace talks, however, on Wednesday Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno announced Quito will no longer be a guarantor of peace talks and will not host the fifth cycle.