Call your member of Congress today! Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) are circulating a “dear colleague” letter to President Uribe over the recent wave of threats against, and targeted killings of, human rights defenders, trade unionists, and others in Colombia.
As many advocates already know, the National Movement for Victims of State Crimes organized a March 6th protest to call attention to Colombia’s victims of paramilitary violence and to condemn acts of violence by all actors. In the days leading up to the protest, José Obdulio Gaviria, a close advisor to President Uribe, went on national radio to suggest that the March 6th rally was "convened by the FARC." After these false and reckless comments were made, many human rights groups received email death threats from the Black Eagles and at least four trade unionists were murdered.
The dear colleague letter calls on the Colombian government to fully investigate these threats and murders and to bring those responsible to justice. The letter also urges President Uribe to take concrete actions to ensure government officials stop making comments that put the lives of human rights defenders at risk.
Take Action! Call your representative today and encourage them to sign this important letter in support of human rights defenders in Colombia. Simply dial the Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 to be connected to their office and ask to speak to their foreign policy aide. If your member of Congress is interested in signing on, they should contact Cindy Buhl in Rep. McGovern’s office, or Megan Garcia in Rep. Schakowsky’s office, by close of business on Thursday, April 10th. As the administration seeks more aid for war and approval of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, we have to demand our elected officials take human rights seriously.
Finally, we want to let you know that we joined with twenty-three other groups to send a strong letter to President Uribe also urging him to publicly disavow Gaviria’s comments and to express support for the legitimate efforts of human rights defenders. You can read the letter here. Let’s continue to work together to ensure our Colombian partners who speak out and work for human rights are neither threatened nor harmed.