Urgent Action: Colombia – Feb 2011

Update (April 2011):

While our Colombian Partner, NOMADESC, continues to operate under the daily risk of threats to their livelihoods this current action request is no longer applicable. We have left a copy of the content of the letter below so that you can read over it if you wish.  Thank you to everyone who took action to support Berenice and her colleagues at NOMADESC.  We will continue to keep you informed of their work.  Please sign up for our e-bulletin to keep informed.

Update (March 2011):

Over the past year, our Colombian Partner, NOMADESC has received 13 death threats. These threats have not only targeted NOMADESC but also the indigenous, afro-Colombian and community organizations with which they work in the southwestern region of the country. Early in January of this year, a threat was called in to the NOMADESC office landline, threatening all of the staff. This threat and the frequent surveillance of the office, has led NOMADESC to seek new, and hopefully more secure, office space.

In March of this year, when NOMADESC Director, Berenice Celeyta, visited Canada, she reiterated the importance of urgent action letters. Berenice credits international solidarity with protecting her life. This is not an empty statement – our letters can help by demonstrating that the world is watching. If you have not yet written a message, this is the time to do it.

Please take a minute to read the CoDev Urgent Action Backgrounder – NOMADESC – Feb 2011 and use the template below to write to the Colombian authorities. Ask your local, your co-workers and your friends to do the same.

Thank you for joining us in supporting Berenice and the work of NOMADESC.

Action

To:

Juan Manual Santos Calderón, Presidente de la República, Colombia
Fax. 011 571 566 2071

CC:

Angelino Garzón, Vicepresidente de la República, Colombia
comunicacionesvp@presidencia.gov.co

Rodrigo Rivera, Ministro de la Defensa, Colombia
siden@mindefensa.gov.co / infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co / mdn@cable.net.co

Germán Vargas Lleras, Ministro del Interior y de Justicia, Colombia
ministro@minjusticia.gov.co

Vivián Morales, Fiscal General de la Nación, Colombia
contacto@fiscalia.gov.co / denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co

Wolmar Antonio Perez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo, Colombia
defensoria@defensoria.org.co / secretaria_privada@hotmail.com

Alejandro Ordóñez, Procurador General de la Nación, Colombia
anticorrupción@presidencia.gov.co / reygon@procuraduría.gov.co

Canadian Embassy in Colombia
bgota@international.gc.ca

Dr. Clemencia Forero Ucros, Colombian Ambassador to Canada
embajada@embajadacolombia.ca

Dear President Santos,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern for the lives and well-being of several community leaders and human rights defenders in the south west of Colombia and to ask you to take immediate action to protect their lives and to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for these illegal acts.

On December 30, 2010, AIDA QUILCUE indigenous leader of the MINGA of Social and Community Resistance and MARTA GIRALDO, regional coordinator for MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes), received text messages containing threats which named them and other community leaders and human rights defenders in the region, including BERENICE CELEYTA, Coordinator of NOMADESC, a human rights organization based in Cali. The text which threatened to kill these leaders and their children was sent by the Black Eagles paramilitary group.

On January 6, 2011, a phone call was made to the office landline of NOMADESC in Cali. The caller said “Sons of bitches, we have located you, we’re coming for you.” This latest threat is the 12th death threat that NOMADESC staff have received in the past year.

Also on January 6, 2011 in Cali, MARTA GIRALDO, was followed and watched by a suspicious person outside of her house for three hours.

The frequency and nature of these threats is extremely worrisome, particularly in light of the lack of government follow-up to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for these actions.

As the president of Colombia, I respectfully ask that your government take the following actions immediately:

  • Undertake a full investigation to determine who is responsible for these threats and bring them to justice.
  • Take immediate action to protect the lives and well-being of those threatened and their families.
  • Fully protect the work of human rights defenders in the states of Valle de Cauca and Cauca.
  • Bring an end to human rights violations in this region.

Sincerely,