Thirteen Colombian human rights defenders received death threats on July 4 declaring them to be “military targets”. CUPE is asking our members and allies to send messages to leaders and authorities in Colombia, expressing concern for the activists’ safety and reminding them to fulfill their obligation as set out in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
According to CoDev, a B.C.-based NGO that works for social change in the Americas, several of the people named in the threats have worked with CoDev and have met with several delegations on trips to Colombia. Most recently a Canadian teacher delegation visited Colombia in November 2011.
According to Amnesty International: “In the course of Colombia’s long-running armed conflict millions of hectares of land have been stolen, often through violence to the rightful owners, especially indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities. Paramilitaries, security forces, and guerrilla groups have driven over five million people from their homes.”
The 13 people named in the threats are leaders of these displaced communities and help in seeking the return of stolen lands.
The CUPE Global Justice Fund and CUPE BC work with CoDev to provide support to NOMADESC. Berenice Celeyta is the founder of NOMADESC, a human rights organization that advises social groups and unions. She has met with CUPE staff and members on different occasions to report on the important labour and human rights work her organization is doing.
- To learn more, please visit the CoDev website and download the background summary.