Target: President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos
Goal: Investigate the assassinations of Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán and Ariel Sotelo and take concrete steps to ensure the safety of environmental, human rights, and indigenous rights activists in Colombia.
Three Colombian environmental activists who campaigned against illegal mining have been assassinated. According to fellow activists gunmen dressed as military officers kidnapped Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán, and Ariel Sotelo as they were driving food to a weekly market. Their bodies were found later that day with gunshot wounds. These deaths are unsettling and should be investigated immediately.
Joel Meneses was the founder of an organization dedicated to protecting the natural resources, environment, and human rights of campesinos, or peasant farmers. The three had been defending water resources in the region from contamination by illegal mining activity.
In 2015, 3,000 campesino leaders were killed by paramilitary groups in Colombia. The murders of campesino leaders largely remain unsolved, and aside from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army, known as the FARC, the government has historically been reluctant to recognize the fact that paramilitary groups pose a threat to security. Sign our petition and demand that justice is served for Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán and Ariel Sotelo, and that the government of Colombia take concrete steps towards ensuring the safety of campesino leaders.
Dear President Santos,
I was disturbed to hear of the murder of Joel Meneses, Nereo Meneses Guzmán, and Ariel Sotelo on the day your government signed the historic accord with the FARC. It saddens me that the deaths of these campesino leaders are not merely aberrations but a common occurrence; 300 campesino leaders were murdered in 2015 alone.
Given the peace with the FARC, I believe that your government has an opportunity to ensure that the safety of environmentalists, campesinos, and citizens are met in your country. I urge you to do everything in your power to combat paramilitary groups, such as Los Urabeños, and stop these murders. I fear that inaction will allow the violence to escalate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: foreign and commonwealth office