Mensaje al Presidente Santos: Dear Mr President, I am writing to express my support and solidarity with the Colombian peoples who have come together to show their discontent in the form of a National Strike: The Agrarian, Ethnic, Rural and Popular Minga.
Rural people, workers and local communities continue to suffer the impacts of economic policies that directly affect their livelihoods. These policies are a hindrance to achieving peace with social and environmental justice. That is why they have decided to mobilise through the country’s farmlands, roads and cities.
Peace is a right for all people. As someone committed to peace and guarantees for the protection of human rights around the world, I welcome and support the current dialogues taking place between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC-EP), as well as the recent announcement of the public phase of negotiations with the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN).
However, last time there were protests of this scale; protesters were met with a repression and stigmatisation. Organisations and their leaders were persecuted leading to criminalisation, arrests and the excessive use of force and violence by state security forces such as the anti-riot police.
Colombians must have a say in what peace should look like
In this regard I therefore urge you to:
-Ensure that the state’s security forces and other state actors responsible for protecting the human rights of Colombians, refrain from the use of force and violence against the population, as well as the criminalisation and all forms of repression and coercion of peaceful social protest;
-Listen to and solve the requirements and demands of the popular sectors and peasant farmers, creating spaces to include the demands of small scale farmers, students, workers and marginalised groups
-Establish a transparent and binding process for negotiation – one that responds and meets the needs and proposals of social movements, peasants and other popular sectors.
-Include delegates that represent all mobilised sectors in the negotiations, in order to find a comprehensive solution to the multiple crises that are drowning the country’s population.
We will remain vigilant to the situation in Colombia and make effective our solidarity and support.
Colombia has been gripped by conflict for 70 years. After 4 years of negotiations between armed rebel groups and the state, most Colombians feel ignored and peaceful protests have been violently repressed. Ordinary people are now taking a stand – help protect them from violence.
On 30 May, millions of Colombians will take to the streets in peaceful protest to mark the beginning of a National Strike.
They are calling for a future that addresses the rampant inequality at the heart of the strife, and to be included in peace-talks.
Defend the people of Colombia’s Right to Protest!
Rural people, workers and local communities continue to suffer the impacts of economic policies that directly affect their livelihoods. These policies are a hindrance to achieving peace with social and environmental justice.
The UK has been complicit in the conflict. The operations of a number of UK-listed mining and energy companies such as BP, BHP Billiton and AngloAmerican, along with their subsidiaries, have been accused of generating grave human and environmental impacts that have fed the violence of war.
The last time mobilisations of this kind took place, they were met with brutal and violent repression, leaving hundreds dead, thousands injured and many more criminalised on trumped up charges. But they are intent on making President Santos listen. Please join them.
Support their right to participate in the construction of peace!