Colombian-Canadians to rally for peace on Friday July 26
The Toronto Star headline reads, “Colombian-Canadians rally for peace amid rising violence back home”.
The newspaper article highlights, “Almost three years after the peace deal was signed, Colombian-Canadians will take to the streets on Friday as part of a global effort to draw attention to the situation in their homeland.”
Those rallies will be in: Montreal, 5 pm, in front of the Consulate of Colombia; Ottawa-Gatineau, 6:30 pm, at the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill; Quebec City, 5 pm, in the Atrium of the Church of San Roche; Toronto, 6 pm, at Matt Cohen Park (Bloor and Spadina); and Winnipeg, 6 pm, at the group entrance to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has shared on social media this promotion for the global day of action being circulated by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP). PBI-Colombia has accompanied the CIJP since 1994.
That promotion notes (in Spanish), “Following the murder of María del Pilar Hurtado in Tierralta, Córdoba, Defendamos la Paz called on citizens to mobilize on July 26 and raise a national clamor to end the systematic murders of leaders and social leaders in the country.”
Colombia Reports explains, “María del Pilar Hurtado dedicated the last months of her life to negotiating a way for a group of landless peasants to live on a piece of land owned by wealthy and connected men.”
The promotion then highlights that since the July 26 mobilization was announced that at least 10 other social leaders have been killed in Colombia.
There will be rallies in at least 29 communities in Colombia, as well as in numerous other cities around the world including the five noted above in this country.
The Toronto Star article quotes the organizers of the Canadian rallies: Sandra Cordero, “a union activist who sought political asylum in Canada in 2002 after she and her family received death threats from paramilitaries in Bogota over her advocacy work”, Luis Alberto Mata, “a former journalist, who fled to Canada in 2002 with his lawyer wife and son after receiving repeated threats from paramilitary forces”, and Raul Burbano of “Common Frontiers, an international labour and human rights advocacy group”.
In the article, Cordero says, “People outside of Colombia think everything is OK after the peace agreement, but it’s not. People continue to be displaced and murdered. The only power we have is speaking out.”
A report released this past May states that 702 social leaders and 135 former members of the FARC have been killed since the beginning of 2016. 499 of the 837 people killed were members of indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant farmer communities. Just over 70 per cent of the killings were related to disputes over land and natural resources.
There are now more than 100,000 Colombians living in Canada.
The Toronto Star article notes, “According to Canada’s refugee board, the number of Colombian refugee claimants tripled to 2,582 last year from 820 in 2016, with another 671 seeking asylum in the first three months of 2019 alone.”
In 2018, 27 PBI-Colombia volunteers accompanied members of 13 organizations and 2 individual human rights defenders working on business and human rights and forced disappearances. Volunteers are based in Bogotá, Barrancabermeja and Apartadó. You can follow the work of PBI-Colombia via their website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their YouTube channel.