Target: President Juan Manuel Santos
Goal: Dismantle paramilitary groups that have been threatening human rights workers near Bogota
Human rights workers in Colombia have always faced threats from paramilitary groups, but recent activity in the newly-created Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero has many concerned for the lives of human rights workers in the area. Sign the petition and tell President Juan Manuel Santos to follow through on United Nations recommendations to disband paramilitary groups, and urge him to provide human rights workers with any help and protection they may need.
The Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero was founded recently in response to a number of paramilitary threats against the Afro-descent communities in the area. Humanitarian zones in Colombia are meant to be safe spaces wherein no armed people are allowed to enter. However, paramilitary groups have continued to be significant threats to the community at Puente Nayero. The day before the official creation of the humanitarian zone, a sixteen-year-old boy was murdered and dismembered by paramilitaries near its borders. Since the zone’s creation, many of the activists involved have been threatened; Danilo Rueda, Orlando Castillo, and Luis Yasmani Grueso Sinisterra have all received death threats from paramilitaries, some on multiple occasions.
Paramilitary groups in Colombia officially operate outside of the government, but government-run security forces often know about paramilitary activity without doing anything to stop it. There will never be an end to the violence in Colombia until the government steps in and actively disbands paramilitary groups in accordance with UN recommendations. Sign the petition and urge Colombia to take a stand against violence.
Dear President Santos,
I am writing to condemn the violence and threats that have plagued the Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero. The community there deserves to live in peace, and the human rights workers who have dedicated their lives to protecting others must themselves be protected from paramilitary threats. I urge you to provide threatened human rights workers like Danilo Rueda, Orlando Castillo, and Luis Yasmani Grueso Sinisterra with protection in accordance with their wishes. Furthermore, I demand an end to paramilitary action in Colombia.
Paramilitaries near Puente Nayero have been responsible for multiple death threats against Rueda, Castillo, and Sinisterra, and they have also been linked to the brutal murder and dismemberment of a sixteen-year-old boy just outside the humanitarian zone. In accordance with United Nations recommendations, Colombia should be actively working to dismantle paramilitary groups and prosecute those involved in paramilitary activity. Instead, witnesses have stated that security forces do nothing about paramilitary threats, despite knowing who the leaders are and where they live.
Paramilitaries have no place in the lives of peaceful people who simply want to live without violence. I urge you to provide protection to Danilo Rueda, Orlando Castillo, Luis Yasmani Grueso Sinisterra, and the community members of Puente Nayero, and I demand an end to the existence of paramilitary forces in Colombia.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: SMORENO2007 via Flickr