The Assn. of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES USA) is soliciting signatures for a petition to U.S. Ambassador McKinley urging him to take action to protect Afro-Colombian leaders, human rights defenders and labor activists.
Mark Harrison, director of Peace with Justice at the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society, encourages you to sign the petition.
”Our denomination's highest policy-setting body, the General Conference, adopted a resolution, ‘United States Role in Colombia,’ which expresses grave concerns about our government’s role in that South American country,” Harrison said. One provision of the resolution supports “Afro-Colombians’, indigenous peoples’, and campesinos’ rights to self-determination and control over resources in their traditional homelands.”
[Petition] urgest U.S. Ambassador to take action to protect Afro-Colombian leaders, human rights defenders and labor activists.
On Nov. 13, last year, the Black Eagles paramilitary group circulated a death threat that included various Afro-Colombian and human rights groups. Among the groups listed was AFRODES.
On Dec. 1, 2012 a member of AFRODES, Miller Angulo, was murdered in Tumaco. The lack of an effective response on the part of the Colombian government to AFRODES’s multiple requests for protection measures for a group of 22 of its leaders led 30 members to engage in an act of civil disobedience on Dec. 8 at an event where Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzon was present.
Petition to U.S. Ambassador
The petition to McKinley, U.S. ambassador to Columbia, strongly urges him to intervene to prevent further deaths. It requests that McKinley:
- Issue a public statement on behalf of the U.S. government that strongly condemns the murders and death threats against human rights defenders including Afro-Colombians, labor and human rights activists. This statement should express the U.S. government’s full support of the vital work done by these organizations and how their efforts help to further human rights, labor rights, democracy and peace in Colombia.
- Urges Colombia’s Protection Unit to immediately provide adequate and effective protective measures to the 22 members of AFRODES who have solicited measures. The U.S. Embassy should monitor the security situation for AFRODES’s leaders in Bogota and its regional offices closely. Your visit to AFRODES’s national office in Bogota to meet with its leadership is strongly encouraged.
- Make the protection of Afro-Colombian, indigenous, human rights, labor and IDP leaders a priority issue in your engagement with high level officials within the Colombian government. The U.S. and Colombia should work together to determine how best to improve public policies, programs and full implementation of Constitutional Court Decisions 004 and 005 on Afro-Colombians and indigenous displaced communities so as to prevent further deaths from taking place.
- Guarantee the full implementation of the protection related commitments found in the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan and that Colombia fully upholds its obligations with regard to the human rights conditions tied to receipt of U.S. military assistance.
You can learn more and sign the petition at Intervene to prevent human rights violations against Afro-Colombian leaders.
”As our resolution points out, illegal armed groups spread fear among the Colombian people,” Harrison said. “Paramilitary death squads regularly collude with the Colombian military, which receives millions of dollars of support each year from the United States.
“The present policy of the United States has only exacerbated the basic problems of poverty and decades-long armed conflict in Colombia.”