Support threatened organizations in Colombia (Friends of the Earth International)
Social, indigenous, popular and environmental organizations are protesting to express disagreement with the current economic development model, and to highlight the government’s failure to fulfil prior commitments.
These strikes and mobilizations began on 30 May and are ongoing.
The main demands are around the fulfillment of agreements made since 2014, when organizations were demanding a different development model and concrete policies that provide support to small scale peasant farmer. One that respects the autonomy and rights of farmers, indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians to the use of territory – instead of increasing licenses for mining and energy projects.
The government is not negotiating or even acknowledging the situation, and mainstream media largely ignores it. Police repression is increasing threats and human rights violations:
- according to Contagio Radio, there are 85 people injured and 12 unjustly imprisoned due to police repression
- two indigenous men have been killed and two others were injured during recent mobilizations
- paramilitary groups have also threatened different organizations, trying to discourage people from mobilizing
- more information from Movimiento Rios Vivos and Radio Mundo Real
Please add your name to join organizations from around the world (including Friends of the Earth International and Transnational Institute) who are supporting these protesters. We’ll email this joint letter to Colombian government officials on your behalf.
The email will be sent as a Spanish version to the government officials. An English translation is shown below.
June 2nd, 2016
Sir, Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia
Sir, Luis Perez Gutierrez, Governor of Antioquia
I support the following letter sent previously to you by organizations from around the world. Thank you for giving it your consideration…
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
In the name of the 200 international organisation members of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, we would like to express our concern at the high risk faced by human and environmental rights defenders in Colombia who are taking part in the Minga Nacional Campesina, Agraria, Étnica y Popular.
In our different regions of the world we received information from the Cumbre Agraria, Étnica y Popular about this national mobilization and strike beginning on May 30th to oppose governmental policies linked, among others, to the Free Trade Agreements, that sell strategic natural resources, public enterprises, strategic goods and water and intensify inequal distribution of wealth.
We have been following the Minga developments in the last few days. We would like to express our deep concern in relation to the following: the violent repression faced by Minga participants on the part of the national police that is preventing social and popular organizations from exercising their right to protest; the false statements and accusations made by local authorities; and the assassination of an indigenous man from the Embera Chamí ethnic group, and the murder of the Nasa indigenous Gersaín Cerón Cuainás.
In particular, we are very concerned about the high risks faced by members of the Movimiento en Defenesa del Territorio y Afectados por las Represas Ríos Vivos members, who received death threats from paramilitary groups on May 30th and 31st, 2016.
As international organizations that defend life, we recognise the use of dialogue as the way to solve differences within society. We therefore reject the use of police force and the criminalization of protest, and expect the government to guarantee the right to protest on the part of social organizations.
From our countries, we support and positively evaluate the efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict with different armed groups. However, as we are again confronted by this kind of situation, we highlight and reiterate our deep concern in relation to the continuity of paramilitary groups and the subsequent lack of guarantees for a definite end to repression and violence.
We trust that efforts to solve this difficult situation will be founded on the pillars of Colombian democracy and the constitutional rule of law. We will continue to pay close attention to this situation in the coming days.