Target: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Director of the National Protection Unit of the Ministry of Interior Andres Villamizar
Goal: To protect human rights defenders whom the Anti Land Restitution Army has listed as “military targets.”
Recently, the Anti Land Restitution Army (Ejercito Anti Restitucion de Tierras) published a death threat against 13 human rights defenders and politicians who “want to take away land from the well-to-do citizens and give it to guerrillas.” The men are being targeted by the paramilitary group for their involvement in helping displaced communities in the four-decade-long armed conflict in Colombia. Since the Land and Victims Restitution Law was approved in 2011, many human rights leaders and politicians have been targeted and killed by those who oppose the return of land to victims of the conflict.
The Land and Victims Restitution Law was created to acknowledge the armed conflict that is occurring in the country and lay out the rights of victims. While the law benefits many survivors of human rights abuses, it excludes a large number of citizens from making claims for reparation and leaves significant plots of land in the hands of those who unlawfully seized it to begin with. Many of those campaigning to improve this legislation, and even those seeking to return to their previously owned land, have been the targets of violent attacks from anti-government groups.
Paramilitary groups are very often dangerous to a country’s citizenry and lie outside of the control of the government. By working to dismantle these groups and investigating death threats, the lives of 13 men – Ivan Cepeda, Diego Martinez, Jeison Pava, Juan David Diaz Chamorro, Franklin Castaneda, Jose Humberto Torres, Pedro Geney, Gloria Cuartas, Piedad Cordoba, Soraya Gutierrez, Ayda Quilcue, Yessika Hoyos, Lilia Solano – and countless others, could be spared. Sign this petition to protect human rights defenders in Colombia from death at the hand of dangerous paramilitary groups.
Dear President Santos and Mr. Vilamizar,
I am writing today to express concern for Ivan Cepeda, Diego Martinez, Jeison Pava, Juan David Diaz Chamorro, Franklin Castaneda, Jose Humberto Torres, Pedro Geney, Gloria Cuartas, Piedad Cordoba, Soraya Gutierrez, Ayda Quilcue, Yessika Hoyos, and Lilia Solano – 13 human rights defenders who have recently had death threats made against them. It is imperative that Colombian authorities act to protect these men, and issue a full and impartial investigation into the death threats publicized by the paramilitary Anti Land Restitution Army.
Colombia has done great work in acknowledging the armed conflict within its borders, and has sworn to recognize the rights of those who have suffered human rights abuses. Now it is time to protect politicians and human rights leaders who have worked so hard to help the victims of this conflict and return land to the rightful owners.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mikkers via Flickr