Urgent Message from the Colombia Mission Network
We received the following communication from Rev. Mamie Broadhurst and Rev. Diego Higuita, co-chairs of the Colombia Mission Network asking us to take the following urgent advocacy action. They have included two graphic videos that show the horrific attack on these nonviolent, peaceful protestors determined to protect their land in Colombia. This is a grave incident that highlights the need for the U.S. State Department to immediately review its ongoing certification that the Colombian government has met human rights conditions in U.S. law. This terrible incident and the deaths of four young people reiterates the urgent need for human rights abuses committed by the Colombian security forces to be investigated and prosecuted in civilian, not military court.Please join me in taking the specific actions directed in this request and in surrounding those struggling for justice in Colombia in your prayers. PPF has signed onto an organizational letter today with our solidarity NGO partners in the United States today on this issue that is going to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.Peace in Christ,Rev. Shannan Vance-OcampoDirector of Colombia Programs, PPF
I write today with a request from Rev. Diego Higuita (IPC Executive Secretary) and Elder Germán Zarate (Director of Diaconía for the IPC). There have been grave human rights violations of the rural population of Catatumbo in Norte del Santander, and your help is needed. Below you will find a letter with the addresses of various dignitaries (email and otherwise) to which you can send it. Please feel free to modify the letter as you see fit, or send it as it is.
I ask that in addition to sending the letter yourselves, you would spread it among your networks in your Presbyteries and beyond, requesting their intervention as well. Below you will also find two videos in which you can see the abuses of violations and human rights. I have also attached a bulletin with detailed information, though it is in Spanish [see file below]. I felt it more important to get this out to you than to wait and translate it all first.
[The following videos are very graphically violent and disturbing. Please know that we share these to bear witness to the reality of the atrocities happening in Colombia and at the request of our Colombian partners.]
Thank you for your time to send this letter, or your version of it.
Mamie and Diego
Coordinators, Mission Network for Colombia
Since Wednesday, June 12, 2013, the residents of the region of Catatumbo in Norte de Santander have been exercising their right to protest due to the lack of compliance regarding the establishment of a Rural Reserve Zone and the absence of a policy of crop substitution to replace illicit crops with agricultural products that do not harm the environment and permit economic development for the people. The Colombian government, through repressive mechanisms in place as part of state policy via the National Land Consolidation Plan (which has generated stigmatization, control, persecution and prosecution of civilians) committed violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law including:
Military patrols by hooded individuals
Arrests without a warrant
Use of civilians as human shields
Raids on local residents carried out by the armed forces without search warrants and without oversight from the district attorney's office.
Destruction of resident’s property by the Armed Forces and Police
Food and medical blockade by the Armed Forces
Blockage of free transit of both the local population and Humanitarian Commissions
Abuse, threats, and harassment of the local population
Indiscriminate shooting against protected persons (civilians and human rights defenders) by the Armed Forces and Police
Accordingly, we believe and demand a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict in Catatumbo, the immediate cessation of the hostilities and the serious violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by the Colombian State. We demand sustainable and durable solutions from the Colombian state according to the reality of the people of Catatumbo.
This letter should be sent to the following recipients with a copy to our Embassy:
Fiscalía General de la Nación
Diagonal 22 B No.52-01
Santa fe de Bogotá.
Fax: (+571) 570 20 00
Presidente de la República
Dr. Juan Manuel Santos
Cra. 8 # 7-26, Palacio de Nariño.
Santa Fe de Bogotá. Fax:+57.1.566.20.71
Vicepresidente de la República
Dr. Angelino Garzón.
Tels. (+571) 334.45.07,(+573) 7720130,
Defensor del Pueblo
Jorge Armando Otalora
Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá.
Fax: + 57.1.640.04.91
Procurador General de la Nación
Señor Alejandro Ordoñez
Cra. 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá.
Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario.
Dr. Carlos Franco
Calle 7 N° 5-54 Santafé de Bogotá
Tel: (+571) 336.03.11
Fax: (+57 1) 337.46.67
The copy to the U.S. Embassy can be sent to:
ATTN: The Honorable P. Michael McKinley
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia
Fax to: 011-571-275-4600 (this is the direct dial from the US to fax to Colombia -- Faxing is the most effective way to get the attention of the Embassy)