General Secretary: US should take steps to protect Colombia Peace Communities

General Secretary Shan Cretin of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is urging Mr. P. Michael McKinley, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia, to exercise the considerable influence of the United States in Colombia to ensure immediate action to address recent threats and guarantee the safety of the Peace Communities.

On Aug. 22, 2012, Shan sent the following letter to Ambassador McKinley:

Dear Ambassador McKinley:

I write with an urgent concern for the safety of the Peace Communities of Colombia in light of recent reports of death threats and other actions against the communities and some of their leaders.  On behalf of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), I appeal to you to exercise the considerable influence of the United States in Colombia to ensure immediate action to address these threats and guarantee the safety of the communities.  

The AFSC has a particular concern for these communities, having nominated the Peace Community of San José de Apartado and the Asociación de Cabildos de Indígenas Norte del Cauca (ACIN) for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2007. (As a recipient of the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all Quakers, AFSC is eligible to make nominations for the prize each year.) We have found extremely compelling the profound commitment of the Peace Communities in Colombia to resist using only nonviolent means when facing the violence that has engulfed Colombia for decades. We were—and are—moved by their determination to build and protect a positive alternative to violence, insisting on their right to remain neutral in the conflict. 

The reports we have received concern phoned death threats, unlawful detention by military forces, the burning of the home of one of the leaders of the Peace Community of San José de Apartado. We also understand that paramilitary forces are present in large numbers in the areas of the peace communities, threatening the peace and security of those areas.

Mr. Ambassador, given its role and history in Colombia, the U.S. has an overriding responsibility to bring about action to investigate these specific threats and to use its influence to ensure the dismantling of the paramilitary forces. I urge you to exercise your good offices to address this urgent situation.

Yours in Peace,
Shan Cretin
General Secretary

AFSC encourages individuals and organizations to join us in appealing to Ambassador McKinley.