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This Land is Their Land: A Case for Indigenous Land Rights

Para la versión en español, haz clic aquí.

Written by Kati Hinman, Human Rights Accompanier at FOR Peace Presence, from San José de Apartadó. Originally published in Charged Affairs. 

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Mountains of Urabá

¨We are sitting on gold,¨ he said, looking out past the few small houses towards the mountains of Urabá, a region of northern Colombia that has been a hotbed of the armed conflict. Having grown up in the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó, he was well aware of the price for their land. For 20 years, the Peace Community has remained neutral in the conflict, and non-violently resisted armed actors fighting to dominate their territory. Since the Peace Community’s founding, over 180 of its members have been assassinated,  amongst hundreds of additional human rights violations. After the signing of the peace accords last year, they continue to resist various threats to their rights. The region has a huge reserve of coal, and they fear that multinational corporations will eventually push them out to build mines.


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Life and Death in Buenaventura: A Continuing Story of Forced Displacement

Para la versión en español, haz clic aquí.

Written by Pendle Marshall-Hallmark, FOR Peace Presence accompanier, 2/17/2017

The day I arrived in Colombia to begin my new position as an international human rights accompanier, the decaying, mangled bodies of Afro-Colombian community activist Emilsen Manyoma Mosquera and her partner Joe Javier Rodallega were found on the outskirts of their Buenaventura neighborhood. A few days prior, the couple had been kidnapped by a group of people allegedly pertaining to one of the strongest neo-paramilitary drug-trafficking groups in the country, called “Los Urabeños“.

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Emilsen Manyoma Mosquera, prominent human rights activist in Buenaventura, was kidnapped and then killed.


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A letter from John Lindsay-Poland

If you live in the United States, you know that our country is in an emergency, as we respond to the racist fear-mongering of a new presidency. You may be less aware of the continuing emergencies in other nations such as Colombia. But human rights workers there urgently need your support now, too.

On January 29, 2002, the same week that two young volunteers travelled to remote San José de Apartadó to permanently accompany a Peace Community under attack, the then-U.S. president committed himself to eliminating an “axis of evil.” The United States had just begun its war in Afghanistan and passed the Patriot Act under the guise of fighting terrorism. But it was also supporting a war in Colombia. When I and others visited San José the year before, the community’s leaders asked us to accompany them in the aftermath of a massacre that had killed six community leaders in the hamlet of La Unión. We didn’t know – couldn’t know – what it would entail, but we had to say yes.

Since then, the FOR Peace Presence has expanded its accompaniment in Colombia to conscientious objectors, Afro-Colombians resisting neo-paramilitary violence, farmers neighboring the military’s largest training base, and community councils and indigenous reserves in more than a dozen Colombian departments. It has also continued its 24/7 presence in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó.


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Neoparamilitaries- what’s so new about them?

Para la versión en español, haz click aqui.
Written by Thomas Power, international accompanier of FOR Peace Presence.

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AGC grafiti on the poster with the Peace Community’s principles.

I currently live in a village called “La Unión” as an international accompanier and observer in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, located in the mountains of northwest Colombia. Normally, mornings consist of me making coffee while reading the paper and greeting campesinos (small scale farmers) on their way to work. On the morning of September 6th however, there was a tense apprehension behind the “buenos días”, as the community had received news that armed neo-paramilitaries had entered the neighboring village. The neo-paramilitaries were threatening the people living there, including Peace Community members, so the community was organizing volunteers to go verify the situation and make their presence felt.


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PUBLIC COMMUNIQUÉ

Para la versión en español, haz clic aquí.

PUBLIC COMMUNIQUÉ

Murder in Buenaventura of human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma, of the CONPAZ network and leader of the Bajo Calima Community Council, together with her partner Joe Javier Rodallega.

Bogotá, 19th January 2017

We wish to share with you our profound sadness and concern over the recent murder in Buenaventura of Emilsen Manyoma, human rights defender with the CONPAZ network and leader of the Bajo Calima Community Council, which we have been accompanying both with the Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission and CONPAZ.

Although the events in question are still under investigation, the Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission has reported that her body, together with that of her partner Joe Javier Rodallega, was found lifeless at dawn on 17th January in El Progreso neighbourhood of commune 10 in Buenaventura, with her neck slit and multiple stab wounds. Different sources suggest that both had been picked up on Saturday night in a taxi which took them to Las Palmas neighbourhood, where contact with them was lost.


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