viernes, noviembre 13, 2009

Supporters of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Rights, Please circulate and take action


Dear Supporters of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Rights,

Earlier this week Christian Salazar Volkmann, representative of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, stated that “Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are subject to increasing persecution by protagonists of Colombia's Armed Conflict and that as a result the murder rate among leaders of these communities has more than doubled.” On November 10th, the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) reported that an estimated 40 Afro-Colombians became internally displaced due to a massacre committed by unknown persons that took place in Barbacoas, Nariño. Recently several Afro-Colombian and Indigenous leaders have been killed by armed groups and Afro-Colombian, Indigenous and human rights and religious organizations that accompany them received an upsurge in death threats and/or been subjected to suspicious surveillance by unknown men. According to the Black Communities Process (PCN), since January 2009 Afro-Colombians have experienced at least 7 massive displacements in Nariño and 300 forced disappearances in Tumaco alone this year.

Given the deteriorating human rights situation facing Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities, we encourage you to take action by getting your Representative in the US Congress to sign a letter supporting human rights in Colombia. The Congressional letter written by Representatives McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne, and Honda, calls on US Secretary of State make changes in the US aid package to Colombia. It asks the U.S. government to stop spending taxpayer dollars on the military, which has been found to be killing innocent civilians and illegally wiretapping human rights defenders, journalists, and Supreme Court judges and to support internally displaced people, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, and small farmers who are trying to turn away from coca. The letter (full text found below) strengthens the human rights of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities in various ways including by underscoring that US:“Programs targeting Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities should be designed and implemented in consultation with representatives of Afro-Colombian urban and suburban communities and the community council and cabildo leaders of the territories in question.” In addition to being subjected to violence related to the ongoing armed conflict in Colombia, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous leaders are at a high risk of being harmed due to their bold efforts to stand up for their territorial rights by standing against economic interests in the natural resources found in their ancestral territories. Recent cases, such as that of various Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities in Cauca, point to systematic threats against these communities for defending their right to be previously consulted on all economic projects to be implemented in their territories.

In order to support this effort to change US foreign policy in favor of Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities’ rights we encourage you to contact your Representative today and ask that he or she sign on to the McGovern, Schakowsky, Payne, and Honda letter to Secretary Clinton.
In order to do so, please visit the LAWG page explaining how to call your representative: http://bit.ly/4yP9re. and the online action center at: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/625/t/8560/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1651.

You can also find the full text of the Dear Colleague and the list of updated co-signers by going to:http://bit.ly/1uXuB3.

Thank you for your support,

WOLA, TransAfrica Forum and AFRODES USA on behalf of the Network for Advocacy in Solidarity with Grassroots Afro-Colombian Communities (NASGACC).

NASGACC is a national network of human rights activists, scholars and non-governmental organizations dedicated to promoting international policies and programs toward Colombia that support and strengthen the territorial and human rights of Afro-Colombian communities. Members include AFRODES USA (Association of Internally Displaced Afro-Colombians), TransAfrica Forum (TAF), Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Public Citizen, PBI Colombia, Global Rights, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN), USOC, Roland Roebuck, Joseph Jordan, Ajamu Dillahunt, Arturo Escobar, Agustin Lao, Norma Jackson, Grupo Tangare and Monica Y. Rizo Madrid.