Urgent Action: Colombia – July 2011

Displaced Afro-Colombian Community Organization Threatened

Update September 2011:

While our Colombian partners continue to face constant attacks on their rights this current action request is no longer applicable.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 Afro-Colombian communities and their struggle. We will continue to keep you informed of their work. Please sign up for our e-bulletin to keep informed.

Update, July 25, 2011: This morning we received these words from Berenice Celeyta of NOMADESC: Many thanks for all of CoDev’s efforts of solidarity.  These messages are really critical right now.  The situation on the ground is chaotic; what we included in the urgent action (PDF) describes only a fraction of what is really happening. We will keep in touch.  Hugs.As we outlined in a recent blog post we have received an urgent action request from NOMADESC regarding a disturbing attack on COPDICONC, an organization of Afro-Colombian communities from Nariño and southern Cauca.

Thank you for taking action to support our partner and other members of the Colombian community.

For additional background and contextual information about this action please take a moment to read the original action request (PDF) that we received earlier this week.

Action

To:

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

CC:

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

Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo, Colombia
agenda@agenda.gov.co

Sr. Germán Vargas Lleras, Ministerio del Interior y de Justicia, Colombia
german.vargas@mij.gov.co

Sra. Vivian Morales, Fiscal General de la Nación, Colombia
Fax: +571 570 2000

Dr. Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado, Procurador General de la Nación, Colombia
cap@procuraduria.gov.co; quejas@procuraduria.gov.co

Sr. Rodrigo Rivera, Ministro de la Defensa, Colombia
mdn@cable.net.co

Canadian Embassy in Colombia
bgota@international.gc.ca

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

COPDICONC
copdiconc2008@hotmail.com

NOMADESC
asociaciondhnomadesc@gmail.com

Dear President Santos,

I am writing today regarding an alarming assault on the offices and staff of COPDICONC, the Consejo Mayor para el Desarrollo Integral de Comunidades Negras de la Cordillera Occidental de Nariño y Sur del Cauca. On July 13, three armed men forcibly entered the COPDICONC office in Santiago de Cali, threatened and assaulted the two staff members present and stole computer equipment, cellular phones and USB memory sticks containing sensitive personal information on human rights violations reported by COPDICONC community members.

The men accused the two COPDICONC staff members, ANGELA MARIA PEREA VALENCIA and JOSE IRIS ARCO VELASQUEZ, of being members of guerrilla organizations and demanded to know the whereabouts of the COPDICONC President, MARIA ANTONIA AMAYA who they said they had come to kill.

I want to express my grave concern for the safety and physical well-being of all the leaders and members of COPDICONC, especially President, MARIA ANTONIA AMAYA, Administrator, ANGELA MARIA PEREA VALENCIA and lawyer, JOSE IRIS ARCO VELASQUEZ.

Mr. President, you have made many statements that your government will work to respect human rights yet the violence against human rights defenders and victims groups continues. COPDICONC has been the target of threats and attacks for many years. This latest incident increases the risk that they face.

In light of this I urge your government to:

1. Take immediate measures to guarantee the security and physical integrity of MARIA ANTONIA AMAYA, as well as all the other members of the Community Council of COPDICONC;

2. Carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the break-in, assault and theft at the COPDICONC Cali office, identify those responsible and bring them to justice;

3. Bring an immediate end to this type of persecution and harassment against members of COPDICONC and other human rights defenders, including NOMADESC and other community leaders in the southwest region of Colombia.

Sincerely,