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Colombia

    January 14, 2018

    Time after time, supporters of Amnesty Canada have faithfully raised their voices in countless creative ways to denounce acts of terror aimed at destroying the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in north-western Colombia. Community leaders have told us all the messages of concern, like those written by activists in Vernon, have helped to save lives.

    Now the Peace Community is appealing for support again amidst dangerous new threats from armed paramilitaries, who often operate with the support or acquiescence of state security forces and authorities. On 29 December, five paramilitaries attacked and injured German Graciano Posso, the community’s legal representative. Other members of the community courageously managed to disarm and capture two of the assailants (pictured below), suffering injuries in the process, and hand them over to the National Prosecutor’s Office. Yet authorities later released the two.

    December 12, 2017
    Picture of Colombian man with quote from Amnesty International Americas Director - "Another murder of a leader with protection measures from the National Protection Unit demonstrates the urgent need to rethink the Colombian state's protection system,"

    Download UA 268/17 Colombia

    268 Colombia.pdf

    Two land claimant leaders of collective Afro-descendent territories in Curvaradó, Jiguamiandó, Piedeguita and Mancilla in Chocó have been killed by paramilitary groups belonging to the Gaitanistas Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC). The inhabitants of these humanitarian zones and areas of biodiversity feel threatened.

    December 06, 2017
    Wounaan community in danger

    Photo Credit: Amnesty International

    Download PDF of the most recent update to UA 178/17 Colombia

    178c Colombia.pdf

    Several Embera Indigenous communities and the Afro-descendent community of Taparal in the department of Chocó, Colombia, find themselves confined and terrified due to the presence of the Gaitanistas Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC), and due to the possibility of them clashing with the National Liberation Army (Ejército De Liberación Nacional, ELN) in their communities.

    December 06, 2017
    Image of community of peace sign from Bar Human Rights committee of England and Wales

    Photo: via Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

    Download PDF of UA 263/17

    263 Colombia.pdf

    Paramilitary groups continue their incursions and threats against the people of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia, and the leaders who have reported these abuses nationally and internationally.

    November 22, 2017

    A year on from the signing of the Peace Agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), other guerrilla and paramilitary groups are wrestling for control of parts of the country in conflicts that are wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Colombians, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Years of solitude continue explores how the Colombian Peace Agreement, signed on 24 November 2016, is having a very limited impact on the lives of scores of Indigenous and afro-descendant communities in the department of Chocó – where 60 percent of the population are registered as victims of the armed conflict.

    The Peace Agreement was meant to end the 50-year armed conflict that had resulted in the deaths of more than 220,000 Colombians and displaced nearly seven million people.

    October 10, 2017

    Amnesty International has unveiled the first ever, monumental ‘Aubusson’ tapestry designed by Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero at Bogota’s international airport.

    The twenty square metre tapestry, ‘The Musicians’, woven over the past several months by artisan weavers at Ateliers Pinton, in France, was commissioned by Art for Amnesty on behalf of Amnesty International to promote the human rights of millions across Colombia.

    “I’m very honoured that Amnesty International selected me for this present to Colombia. This tapestry will show all visitors to Colombia how important art and culture are here,” said Fernando Botero.

    “Colombia is going through one of the most hopeful and challenging moments in its recent history. After the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia nearly a year ago, all eyes are on the authorities to ensure justice prevails for the millions of victims of the country’s five decade long war,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    September 05, 2017

    The announcement of a ceasefire agreement between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government is a historic step forward in efforts towards a just and sustainable peace in Colombia. Peace negotiations must ensure that all responsible for serious violations and abuses of human rights are held accountable, Amnesty International said.

    “Colombia is taking yet another step towards an end to a five-decade-long armed conflict that has shattered millions of lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is imperative that all parties to the conflict end attacks on civilians and other crimes under international law and that the parties prioritise human rights and accountability during peace negotiations.”

    The ceasefire has been signed for a four-month period, after which the Colombian government and the ELN will start discussing a potential peace agreement.

    June 02, 2017

    The Colombian government must halt its excessive use of force against protestors taking part in the general strike in Buenaventura, Amnesty International said today.

    “Instead of trying to silence the communities of Buenaventura, the Colombian authorities should protect residents and focus on responding to their demands given the critical levels of violence and exclusion suffered by the people who live in Colombia’s Pacific region,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Programme Director.

    Communities in the port of Buenaventura declared a general strike on 16 May in protest at the government’s continuing failure to respond to their demands for economic, social and cultural rights, including health, drinking water and education.

    The communities denounced the excessive use of violence by the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD) against those participating in the general strike in the city of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca.

    Local NGO Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN) has reported the unjustified use of tear gas against peaceful demonstrators, including children and elderly and disabled people.

    May 24, 2017

    Map credit: www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/colombia.html 

    Residents of the city of Buenaventura in Colombia have reported police repression, including the use of tear gas, at peaceful protests that began on 16 May. Several people, including two children, have been injured. Police and armed forces have a significant presence in the area, and fear of increasing violence remains as protests continue.

     

    April 21, 2017

    The killing of six Indigenous people in the past week raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures implemented by the government to advance the peace process in Colombia, says Amnesty International.

    In the past week, six Indigenous people have been killed in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Nariño, affecting the Wounan, Nasa and Awá Indigenous Peoples, communities who have historically been seriously affected by the armed conflict.

    On 19 April, the leader of the Kite Kiwe Indigenous council in Timbío, Cauca, south-eastern Colombia, was killed after being shot repeatedly by a contract killer while leaving a community meeting. Gerson Acosta had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) due to threats he had received related to his work as a human rights defender.

    Several days earlier, on 16 April, Pedro Nel Pai Pascal, Jhonny Marcelo Cuajiboy Pascal and Ever Goyes, members of the Awá Indigenous community, were killed in the department of Nariño.

    April 21, 2017

    The killing of six Indigenous people in the past week raises serious doubts about the effectiveness of the measures implemented by the government to advance the peace process in Colombia, says Amnesty International.

    In the past week, six Indigenous people have been killed in the departments of Chocó, Cauca and Nariño, affecting the Wounan, Nasa and Awá Indigenous Peoples, communities who have historically been seriously affected by the armed conflict.

    On 19 April, the leader of the Kite Kiwe Indigenous council in Timbío, Cauca, south-eastern Colombia, was killed after being shot repeatedly by a contract killer while leaving a community meeting. Gerson Acosta had been granted protection measures by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) due to threats he had received related to his work as a human rights defender.

    Several days earlier, on 16 April, Pedro Nel Pai Pascal, Jhonny Marcelo Cuajiboy Pascal and Ever Goyes, members of the Awá Indigenous community, were killed in the department of Nariño.

    April 19, 2017

    Photo credit.

    Residents of Puerto Lleras, Jiguamiandó collective territory in the department of Chocó, report threats and raids from paramilitaries near the Humanitarian Zone of Pueblo Nuevo, putting all the inhabitants at risk.



    On 15 April, the human rights non-government organization Interchurch Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, CIJP) reported that an unidentified number of paramilitaries from the group Gaitanista Self Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC) entered the hamlet of Puerto Lleras, Jiguamiandó collective territory in the department of Chocó, in north-western Colombia. 

    According to the NGO, these individuals rounded up the community and told them that they were going to take control over the zones previously occupied by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), and that they would not allow the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) into the territory.

    March 21, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    Amnesty activists in Canada are joining with courageous families in rural Colombia to celebrate an inspiring anniversary: an anniversary of resistance, hope and the importance of solidarity.

    March 23rd marks twenty years since families in the verdant countryside of San José de Apartadó, desperate to protect their children from a vicious armed conflict, joined together to form a peace community.

    With enormous courage and determination, the families actively asserted their right as civilians not to be drawn into the armed conflict. They formally declared that they would refuse entry into their territory by any armed combatants – whether soldiers, paramilitaries or insurgent forces -- and also refuse to comply with demands by combatants for information or supplies.

    March 21, 2017

    An unabated wave of threats, killings and forced displacement of hundreds of peaceful villagers in north-western Colombia is a frightening illustration that the armed conflict is far from over, months after a peace accord was signed, warned Amnesty International on the 20th anniversary of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.

    “Alarmingly, in large parts of Colombia, the armed conflict is as alive as ever. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have yet to see any difference in their lives since the peace accords were signed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The peace community of San José de Apartadó shows how Colombians have been bravely fighting for justice for decades, virtually alone. They are an example for the fight to protect human rights, so essential to all in Colombia.”

    March 07, 2017

    The forced displacement of 300 people from a community in North West Colombia by a paramilitary group is tragic evidence that the armed conflict is far from over, said Amnesty International.

    Over the weekend, some 200 armed men identified as members of paramilitary group the Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia, AGC) entered the town of Peña Azul, Alto Baudó, Chocó, in North Western Colombia.

    Witnesses claim the paramilitaries entered the town looking for members of the guerrilla group National Liberation Army ELN (Ejército Nacional de Liberación) and effectively forced 399 people (128 families) to flee out of fear for their lives. The whereabouts of eight families of these families still remains unknown.

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