Last year's peace deal between the Colombian government and FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) brought an end to a war that lasted over 50 years and claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. Some 25,000 people have been disappeared, and 5.7 million displaced.
The peace deal is now looking distinctly fragile, and with new paramilitary groups flooding into the power vacuum left behind by FARC, violence against human rights defenders and other vulnerable groups has soared. Moreover, there is growing concern that the right wing ‘Democratic Center’ party - which led opposition to the peace deal - will win general elections in March 2018.
In this worrying context, a group of Colombian human rights organizations campaigning for justice in cases of forced disappearance and state crimes have invited Northern Irish groups to visit Colombia and go on a whistlestop three-city tour to help publicise their cause. Eamonn McCann, who has dedicated much of his life to the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign, will accompany Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, and Shauna Moreland, whose mother Caroline was disappeared by the IRA, in a visit to the country in early 2018.
There they will attend a series of campaign events with members of MOVICE (the Movement for Victims of State Crimes), the Nydia Erika Foundation, the Mothers of Soacha and the Orlando Flas Bora Collective (spanish), to share experiences, raise public awareness, and help promote justice in Colombia’s delicate post-conflict situation.
From the Colombian side, things are being organized by Alejandra Gaviria (in video clip above), whose father was killed by intelligence services and who is a leading figure in the Movement for Victims of State Crimes. She is joined by, among others, leaders from the ‘Mothers of Soacha’ organization including Luz Marina Bernal, whose son was murdered by the Colombian army and presented as a senior FARC officer supposedly in charge of the organization’s finances. The perpetrators did not realize Fair Leonardo had a severe learning disability and a mental age of approximately seven. Fair was just one of the victims of the 'false positives' scandal, that saw close to 5,000 innocent civilians murdered by state security forces and presented as insurgents in order to win promotions, extra time off and other incentives.
Please help us fight impunity for these terrible crimes!
Trip expenses for Eamonn, Kate and Shauna
1. Flights X 3: €3,000
2. Internal flights (bogota-medellin-cali-bogota 3 X 3 people) : €1800
3. Accomodation: 7 days X 3 = (21 nights X €70): €1470
4. Interpreters (X 2): 2 X 5 days: €2,000
5. Misc (taxis, meals, travel insurance etc): €1000
6. Organization of solidarity events/press conference in Bogotá €2,730
What’s more, Luke Holland, who is leading efforts on a documentary project about the trip, has committed €5000 of his own savings to pay for his own travel and the various production costs associated. If and when funding is secured for the documentary, a figure equal to the entire sum raised through this page will be donated to the human rights groups in Colombia.
If you have any queries, please contact Luke at email@example.com.