NEWS: Colombia Mennonite Churches call for prayer and action
|Call for prayer and action|
Colombia Mennonite Churches call for prayer and action
April 7, 2010
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Colombia's Mennonite churches are calling on congregations in Canada and the U.S. to join the cry for justice, peace and healing in Colombia during the Days of Prayer and Action for Peace on April 18 and 19 under the theme, Face the Displaced.
According to the Colombian Commission for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES), Colombia is now home to 4,915,579 internally displaced persons (IDPs). This is the largest registered number of IDPs, now surpassing Sudan, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.
A potential trade deal between Canada and Colombia may exacerbate violence around land rights and add to this already massive displacement of Colombians. In response, Mennonite Church Canada is inviting individuals and congregations to support a call to prayer and action for peace in Colombia issued by Rebecca Bartel, Mennonite Church Canada Associate and Mennonite Central Committee worker in Colombia on behalf of Colombia Mennonites.
On Wednesday, March 10, Bill C-23 calling for a free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia was put forth as Parliament’s first order of business by the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, and the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veteran's Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture).
On March 31, the Canadian Labour Congress reported that he Canada-Colombia
Free Trade Agreement continues to be one of the federal government’s
top priorities. Humanitarians in and supportive of Colombia stated
that the process leading up to Bill C-23 has not included proper impact
assessments among marginalized groups in society, such as indigenous
and afro-Colombian people groups.
Bartel reported that in September of 2009, the Special Rapporteur to
the United Nations on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret
Sekaggya, visited Colombia. Sekaggya declared that “patterns of
harassment and persecution against human rights defenders, and often
their families, continue to exist in Colombia. Some of these violations
are allegedly to be attributed to guerrillas, new illegal armed groups
and paramilitary groups which human rights defenders say have not been
dismantled… according to several sources, law enforcement authorities
have committed violations against human rights defenders too, or have
shown complaisance with violations committed by private actors against
defenders... I am in particular deeply concerned about the widespread
phenomenon of threats from unknown authors against human rights defenders
and their families.”