Target: President Juan Manuel Santos
Goal: Investigate threats made by paramilitaries and security forces against neutral communities in Colombia
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó has repeatedly asserted its unwillingness to become involved with any military or paramilitary groups operating in Colombia. As a result, it has become a target for both groups, and its citizens are in danger. Sign the petition urging President Santos to protect the Peace Community from violence and to fully investigate any and all threats made against it.
This is not the first time the Peace Community has been the target of violence; in 2013, individual community members were threatened and harassed. Most recently, a member of the Colombian armed forces told a civilian, “We are coordinating with the paramilitaries for the extermination of that son-of-a-bitch Peace Community,” Amnesty International reports. Recent printed statements by the leader of the XVII Brigade, a paramilitary group, also suggest that the group is planning on aggressively taking land away from the Peace Community.
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó was founded as a neutral collective of hamlets. Residents have clearly stated their disinclination to become involved in any military or paramilitary action, but their wishes have been ignored. As civilians, they have every right to decline a role in armed operations. It is the responsibility of the Colombian government to ensure that this right is respected. Sign the petition and urge President Santos to investigate threats made against the community and protect it from harm, and to work more aggressively to disband paramilitary groups.
Dear President Santos,
I am writing to express my deep concern for both the existence of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and the safety of its individual residents. I urge you to protect residents of the community from violence, to investigate the recent serious threats made against them, and to work more aggressively to disband paramilitary groups, in accordance with 2005’s Justice and Peace Law.
Despite its being founded on the principle of maintaining neutrality, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó has been drawn into armed conflicts time and again as both paramilitary and military groups threaten, harass, and harm residents. The most recent threat to the community has come from the commander of the XVII Brigade, who stated that the group was “coordinating with the paramilitaries for the extermination of that son-of-a-bitch Peace Community.” The commander also suggested that there were plans in place to take the community’s land by force.
All that the residents of Peace Community of San José de Apartadó have ever asked is to be left in peace. As civilians, they have a right not to be coerced into involvement in armed conflicts, and thus far their wishes have been ignored. I urge you to immediately address the issue by offering the community and its members any protection you can provide and investigating the threats against it. I also implore you to take a more aggressive approach toward dismantling paramilitary groups operating in Colombia.
Do not fail the people of San José de Apartadó again. Protect the community and punish its persecutors.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Martin St-Amant via Wikimedia Commons