20 February 2013
COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Serious threats to women leaders and their families
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is gravely concerned about the safety of leaders of the Women's Popular Organization (Organización Femenina Popular, OFP) and their families. OFP National Director Yolanda Becerra and Regional Coordinator Gloria Amparo Suárez have been threatened with violence against them and their children.
The OFP, one of CPT Colombia's partners, has defended women's rights in the Magdalena Medio region for forty years. As part of their work they have publicly denounced both state and illegal armed actors' violations against women. Because of this work OFP leaders have suffered numerous threats; several have been forced to flee to other cities for their protection.
On 11 February 2013 a man came to the office of the Women's Popular Organization asking for information about the high school diploma program for adults. After speaking with Suárez, he asked her "Why don't you stick with this instead of f***ing around at the national level and causing a commotion?" (¿Por qué no se dedican a esto en vez de estar jodiendo a nivel nacional y estar formando alborotos?)
photo courtesy Kairos Canada
Yolanda Becerra, OFP director (center), and
The man then asked Suárez if she knew where her children were. He showed her his mobile phone and said "we do", then showed her pictures of her sons. He also showed her a picture of Becerra. The picture showed her getting out of a car, which she uses as part of the government's protection program. He said "Tell Becerra […] we know all of her movements. So, now that you know, stop this sh** and be quiet because we do not want to have to f*** with you." (Dígale a Becerra […] que sabemos todos sus movimientos, así que ya saben, paren esa mierda y calladitas que no las queremos joder.)
Your swift action can save lives! Please write a short message without delay. Thank you for raising your voice to protect Gloria, Yolanda, their families and their colleagues.
Please send an email to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon via the Colombian Embassy or Consulate in your country or region:
Canada – send the letter
Mr. César Felipe González Hernández, Chargé d’Affaires
Embassy of Colombia
360 Albert Street, Suite 1002
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7
United States – send the letter via
Ms. Claudia Cuevas, Second Secretary, Human Rights and Minorities
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, NW
Washington DC 20008
FAX: 202-232-8643 ext. 266
Other countries – See http://www.cancilleria.gov.co/en/node/3606
for physical and email addresses of the nearest consulate or embassy.
- Start with Dear President Santos / Estimado Sr. Presidente.
- Describe briefly who you are or where you are writing from.
- Express great concern for the safety of Gloria Amparo Suárez and her children, Yolanda Becerra, and other members of OFP after the threats against them.
- Ask President Santos to arrange for the kinds of protection they request.
- Urge him to order a full and impartial investigation into the threats, to publish the results and to bring those responsible to justice.
- Please note that Colombia has free trade agreements with the United States, Canada, the European Union Free Trade Association, the European Union and South Korea. Citizens of these countries or blocks are encouraged to mention the expectation that in light of this relationship, any such threat against human rights defenders will be treated as a matter of the highest priority.
- Ask for a reply to let you know what steps have been taken.