That’s what members of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community in Colombia have had to face just in the past month.
Germán GracianoOn July 30 and July 31, Germán Graciano (right), a peace community leader, received phone calls from men who identified themselves as the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a paramilitary group. The paramilitaries demanded he start collaborating with them or “purchase coffins for himself and his family.”
On July 24, Gildardo Tuberquia, also a peace community leader, was illegally detained in Las Nieves by members of the Colombian army. The soldiers insulted him, did not wear identification on their uniforms, and refused to identify themselves to Gildardo.
Renato AreizaOn July 4, the home of Reinaldo (Renato) Areiza (left) was burned to the ground in La Esperanza, a settlement of the peace community. Renato was a community council member and spokesperson for several years, and recently had been threatened by officers of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian army and by paramilitaries.
We’re greatly concerned about Renato, who visited the United States in 2005 and 2006 as part of an FOR speaking tour.
These three military and paramilitary threats to the peace community of San José de Apartadó are only the most shocking — threats of “extermination” have been a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence in the past month.
In December many of you responded to our urgent action regarding the situation in La Esperanza, one of the 11 settlements that make up the peace community. Together with the emails you sent and the political advocacy we did in Bogota, we were able to create a bit of space and protection for the residents of that area. We need to keep the pressure on!
Thank you for standing in solidarity with the peace community.