On February 28 2020, Justapaz (Mennonite Center for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action) learned of a pamphlet where they were described as immediate military targets by the “Águilas Negras” threatening social leaders, human rights organizations, and entities committed to peace including Justapaz. While this is not the first time that Justapaz has been threatened in this way this threat is much more specific- even threatening to target families and children at schools.
Since its establishment in 1990, Justapaz has worked to promote non-violence, peacebuilding, and the positive transformation of conflict. They have been involved in the implementation of the Peace Accords signed by President Santos and the FARC rebel group in 2016 and have been involved in facilitating peace talks between the ELN rebel group and the Colombian government.
You can read Justapaz’s March 2020 statement, “Paying the Price of Being Advocates for Peace: A Letter from Justapaz,” on our website and a similar statement from that last time they were threatened in this way in 2018: “A Call for Hope, for the Caring of Life and Continued Peacebuilding.” . Also, you can read the most recent report made by the U.N. Human Rights Commission on the matter.
In response to these threats we express solidarity with Justapaz and gratitude for their steadfast work for peace.
We call on the government of Colombia to work immediately on the following courses of action:
- To investigate these threats, secure protection for organizations and people, like Justapaz, being threatened and to hold Aguilas Negras accountable for these threats.
- To insist on effective measures for the protection of social leaders and human rights defenders. Recent UN Human Rights reports reiterate that the Colombian government is not doing not enough to protect the rights of human rights defenders and social leaders in the country.
- To engage in comprehensive protection of Christian churches in conflict zones, especially in places where violence has increased, such as Chocó, Bajo Cauca, Antioquia, Norte del Cauca and Bajo Putumayo.
We affirm once again our ongoing support for Justapaz and pray for safety and security for all who work for peace, justice and reconciliation in Colombia.