LAWG and Other U.S. NGOs Condemn La Gabarra Massacre

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We, the undersigned organizations, are appalled by the June 15th massacre in La Gabarra, Colombia. Reports indicate that this was an unjustifiable attack targeting civilians, killing 34 and wounding 7. Although there is an ongoing investigation, witnesses and the Colombian authorities allege that Front 33 of the FARC is responsible for what the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bogotá has called a war crime.

We join with Colombian civil society organizations, the Colombian government, the United Nations and others in denouncing this attack in the strongest possible terms. Our deep-felt sympathies go out to the survivors and the families of the victims of this inexcusable violation of international humanitarian law.

We call on the Colombian government to carry out a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible and to bring the guilty parties to justice. We repeat our previous calls for all armed actors in Colombia to respect civilians in compliance with international humanitarian law. No political or social demands justify the targeting of civilians, which has become all too common in Colombia’s brutal internal conflict.

At the same time we reiterate our call on President Uribe to respect the vital role of national and international human rights groups in Colombia. Our work is essential to documenting human rights and international humanitarian law violations such as the La Gabarra massacre, and to ensuring justice for victims of human rights abuses.

Neil Jeffery
Executive Director
U.S. Office on Colombia

Kimberly Stanton
Deputy Director
Washington Office on Latin America

Sarah Ford
Director, Office of Public Policy
Lutheran World Relief

Saul Murcia
Latin America and Caribbean Programs
Mennonite Central Committee

Cristina Espinel and Barbara Gerlach
Colombia Human Rights Committee

Rev. Dr. Leonard B. Bjorkman
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Jacqueline Baker
Legislative Coordinator
School of the Americas Watch

Alexandra Arriaga
Director for Government Relations
Amnesty International-USA

Lisa Haugaard
Executive Director
Latin America Working Group *

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church, (USA)

J. Gary Campbell
Parish Associate Minister
New York Ave. Presbyterian Church
Washington, D.C.

John Lindsay-Poland
Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean
Fellowship of Reconciliation

James E. Atwood
National Capital Presbytery

* Organization designated for identification purposes only