Victims and human rights defenders became the targets of a severe wave of threats and violence earlier this year after organizing a peaceful march to call attention to the plight of victims and denounce violence by all actors in Colombia.
While at the time we focused on doing all we could to ensure the safety of our Colombian friends and colleagues who had been threatened, we couldn’t help but also be inspired by these courageous individuals who, despite the apparent risks, somehow carried on. It then became clear: for those of us committed to human rights and justice in Colombia, what other choice was there, but to stand by the victims?
We have just released The Other Half of the Truth, a report that was inspired by the heroic efforts of Colombia’s victims of paramilitary violence to obtain truth, justice and reparations, and to be guaranteed “never again.” You can also view La Cara Oculta, a Spanish version of the report.
Last year, your calls and letters to the Congress helped to set U.S. policy toward Colombia off in a new, positive direction—but we have more to do together. As the threats keep coming, we must respond to the call of our Colombian partners and build a movement that stands by victims of violence.
Here’s what you can do in your local community to help us get started:
- Send this e-card to 10 of your friends, family, and colleagues
- Write a short letter to the editor of your local newspaper based on this message:
As the Congress gets ready to “mark-up” the foreign aid bill in mid-July, it’s important that “we the people” make our views known to our elected officials. As a long-time human rights advocate, I am particularly concerned with U.S. aid to Colombia, more than half of which goes to the abusive Colombian military. Instead of fueling war, the United States should stand by Colombia’s many victims and support their courageous, often inspiring, efforts to obtain truth and justice in a country still plagued by conflict. I hope my fellow citizens will join me in demanding that Rep. ______________ supports a change in U.S. policy towards Colombia so that our policies reflect our shared values of justice, peace, and human rights.
By working together to educate and engage the American public, we can build a movement to make sure the voices of victims are heard in the halls of Congress! Click here for more specific talking points and don’t forget to email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know what actions you have taken on behalf of the victims.
Can’t wait to take action? You don’t have to! Call your representative today and encourage them to sign onto the McGovern-Miller dear colleague letter to Attorney General Mukasey concerning the recent extradition of paramilitary leaders to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges. Click here to see the letter. This important letter calls on the attorney general to ensure the Department of Justice cooperates with Colombian prosecutors, judges and, most importantly, the victims to hold these paramilitary leaders accountable for their past human rights abuses. If your representative wants to sign-on, tell them to contact Cindy Buhl in Rep. McGovern’s office by close of business Tuesday, June 24th.