For over fifty years, Colombia has been engaged in an internal armed conflict that has left millions of victims and a country yearning for peace. Colombians have suffered through unspeakable violence, forced displacements, kidnappings, widespread massacres, threats against unionists and human rights activists, and the social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. As part of the...
For over fifty years, Colombia has been engaged in an internal armed conflict that has left millions of victims and a country yearning for peace. Colombians have suffered through unspeakable violence, forced displacements, kidnappings, widespread massacres, threats against unionists and human rights activists, and the social exclusion of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. As part of the National Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia campaign, we applaud your administration’s support of the peace process in Colombia and we gather with one message in mind: Now is the Time for Peace with Justice.
For the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on April 26-29, activists around the country are gathering to advocate for U.S. policies that will work with Colombians to end the armed conflict and support victims of violence. We advocate for U.S. policy that champions:
· Transformed aid to Colombia in support of peace, not war. This should support peace accord implementation, address the needs of victims of violence, and feature aid for safe, sustainable return of land and other durable solutions for internally displaced persons and refugees.
· The active participation of victims of violence and civil society in the peace process. Peace must be built from the ground up as well as negotiated from the top down. The engagement of every sector of society – including victims’ associations, displaced communities, civil society organizations, religious communities, and labor unions – is necessary to construct a just and sustainable peace;
· An independent truth commission and strong measures to ensure justice for severe human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict. Colombians deserve to know the full truth about those who implemented, ordered, financed and promoted the violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against the civilian population, whether they be guerrillas, paramilitary forces, or the government's own security forces;
· Protection for human rights defenders and rural communities now and after peace is negotiated so as to protect the civilian populations still caught in the crossfire, especially the most vulnerable – Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, women and children, and farmers in rural areas;
· Refocusing counter drug policy to prioritize alternative and sustainable development policies with input from small farmers.
Our diverse beliefs and faith traditions, our international service experiences and our civic commitments compel us to speak now in this critical moment in time. U.S. support is crucial for addressing the displacement crisis, supporting victims of violence, providing diplomatic support and protecting those working for peace as Colombia navigates through this historic moment. Colombians deserve a chance for peace, and now is the time for U.S. policy that promotes a peaceful and just end to this decades-long conflict. We urge you to rise to meet this challenge.