This is an urgent call for support. The inhabitants of the Peace Community San José de Apartadó, with whom we have been and are connected in deep friendship and intense cooperation for years, need our help now. The Colombian Peace Community is again massively under threat on various levels. In such situations we've often experienced that international attention can save the live of innocent people. Giving a few minutes of our time can have an important effect.
What is the situation?
For 14 years, San José de Apartadó has been a neutral village between the forces of the violent conflict in Colombia - 1300 farmers and refugees united in a non-violent resistance to oppose the massive displacements in their areas. Almost 200 of the inhabitants have been murdered by paramilitary forces, guerrilla forces and the regular military. Despite this, the peace community has persevered and managed to tie an international network of support. In the meantime, numerous other peace communities have developed in Colombia. They are like a seed of hope in a land that has been being governed by violence for decades.
During the last years the situation of the Peace Community seemed to have stabilized. In the last months, however, death threats, coming particularly from the paramilitary forces, have become frequent and alarming again. Fighting in the region has become more intense, rumors against the Peace Community are being spread, people from neighboring communities are being intimidated, and members of the Peace Community are being threatened. Now the state is even seizing land that the peace community has been working for years and is giving it to former members of the paramilitary.
On March 22nd, one day before the celebration of the 14th anniversary of the Peace Community, Bernardo Rios Londoño was murdered. He was a former member of the Peace Community, his wife and his children are still living in San Josecito. Just before the murder happened, paramilitary soldiers were seen. They were following a spokesman of the Peace Community, Jesús Emílio Tuberquia, but backed off when they saw that he was accompanied by internationals.
How you can help
Amnesty International finds the current situation so dangerous that they have started a campaign. We ask all of you to participate: Please go to: http://ua.amnesty.ch/urgent-actions/2011/04/103-11 (The page will open in German, but you can change the language using the menu in the yellow bar, and there are documents with further information in English, German or French on the right-hand side of the page).
There, you will find further information, a pre-written letter (in Spanish), and addresses. Please use this letter or write a letter in your own words and send it by regular mail to the listed addresses. Please take the time to do this; international attention has often saved lives in Colombia before.
Greetings in Solidarity and warm thanks!
Andrea Phoebe Regelmann, May 2011.
In this video Adam Isaacson from the US-based organisation Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) speaks with Jesús Emilio Tuberquia during his trip to Washington in October 2010.