Dear Sisters, Brothers, Friends and Comrades,
It is with deep sorrow that we write to express our condolences for the recent assaults against your organizations and against the entire process for peace. We have learned that 72 human and labor rights defenders, peace activists, indigenous leaders and environmentalists were assassinated in 2016 alone. In the four years of its existence, 125 members of the Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March) popular movement for peace have lost their lives. We are dismayed by the campaign of paramilitary violence that has occurred leading up to and following the October 2nd Peace Referendum. We are especially shocked by ‘the operation of extermination, carried out by death squads between November 17 and 20. Five persons were murdered and attempts were made against three others. All of those targeted were members of the Marcha Patriótica, and all but one were affiliated with the National Unitary Federation of Agricultural Workers Unions (Fensuagro), the largest labor organization within the Marcha Patriótica. We are also deeply concerned to learn that two insurgents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP) were killed November 13 in a non-combat situation by Colombian Armed Forces snipers. This is a violation of the ceasefire and a provocation against the peace process.
We denounce the political violence of the extreme right wing in Colombia and we denounce our own United States government’s history of fomenting Colombia’s war and repression. We denounce transnational corporations that reap profits backed in part or in whole by paramilitary activities and the displacement of rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. We denounce the inaction of the Colombian government to prevent these attacks and bring the perpetrators and intellectual authors to justice. We demand that the Colombian state provide adequate protection for Fensuagro and the Marcha Patriótica leaders under threat, and for all targeted social movements. We condemn the Colombian government’s failure to deal decisively with the links between political and business leaders and paramilitary organizations. Those who encourage, fund and/or carry out assaults against unionists and human rights defenders have one aim: to derail the peace accords by the spilling of blood.