Popoyán, March 6, 2012
As a popular saying goes, there is nobody deafer than one who does not want to hear, and nobody blinder than one who does not want to see. It has been a tradition of armed groups — and there is not a single exception to this rule — to claim that it is their enemy who must respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. All make an effort to show that, in combat, civilian victims and damage to social infrastructure are the other’s fault. This lunacy is such that they see enemies not only along the riverbank, but in the river itself, and to justify this interpretation, they search in unorthodox ways to clean up what they consider to be murky. As such, they end up doing irreparable damage to the environment and sacrificing the core spirit of their struggle.
By Gina Spigarelli
“I thought it was great, all of it,” said one community member, reflecting on the celebrations around the 15-year anniversary of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (CdP for its acronym in Spanish).
“Fifteen years! Can you believe it? These events are the kinds of celebrations we need as a community to give us the strength and endurance to keep on fighting for our lives and our community,” said one man who has been a part of the community process since the CdP was founded in 1997.
On March 23, CdP members from all of the community villages as well as national and international supporters of the CdP travelled to the community village of San Josecito, where we gathered in the newest community kiosk. The kiosk was built last year as a monument to all of those who have been killed while trying to build a peaceful alternative to war in the Peace Community. For the celebration the kiosk was lined with photos of resistance from the CdP as well as from other communities in resistance around Colombia. Human rights organizations all around the world sent banners and letters, and community members themselves made posters.
July 2011 was the seventh consecutive year that the Chicago Chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation exhibited in the main merchandise tents at the Cornerstone Music Festival.
At times, this message of peace and nonviolence was not received well. Accusations from festival-goers to I Will NOTKill advocate Sam Smith that his advocacy of nonviolence made him a terrorist, equal to or surpassing of the 9/11 terrorists — together with one festival-goer’s statement that organizations such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation are tremendously naive because “Some people just need killing!” — were hard to hear.
At other times, teenagers ran breathlessly into the exhibit tent, coming to the I Will NOT Kill display and stating that they agreed with the I Will NOT KillStatement….. and had never realized before that a Christian could actually be a pacifist and still be in line with the teachings of the Bible.
By Charlotte Melly
February brought two important dates for the Peace Community and FOR. February 7 marked a decade of FOR´s permanent peace presence: ten years since community members greeted the first volunteers and hiked with them up to La Unión, ten years of opening space for nonviolent resistance to the Colombian conflict, ten years of internationals sharing intense moments of joy, happiness, sadness, suffering and the adversities of community life.
February 21 saw the commemoration of one of those times of adversity, one of the many arduous, painful moments the community has had to endure in their long struggle for survival. It marks seven years since Luis Eduardo Guerra, one of the Peace Community´s founders and strongest leaders, was brutally murdered, along with seven others, including a five-year-old and an 18-month-old.