Contact Dodd and Feingold Today!
February 11, 2008
Dear Colombia Advocates:
Three young adults named Hortensia, Manuel and William were out one night celebrating Three King's day in the department of Cauca, in southwestern Colombia. After hanging out in a neighboring town, they were on their way home at 3am in the morning, traveling by motorcycle. For unknown reasons (whether on purpose or by accident) the military shot at them and killed Hortensia and Manuel, making the motorcycle crash and break William's leg. William managed to crawl back down to the community and let them know what had happened.
The community mobilized at 4am the next morning and walked up to the scene of the crime, where the two bodies of their beloved young ones were lying. A few hours later the military picked up their bodies and took them to a nearby hospital, but right before they turned them in, they dressed them up as guerrillas and said they had been shot in combat. But their brothers and sisters and parents and friends had already seen the bodies in those early morning hours, lying on the ground, unmoved from where they were shot and in civilian clothing. The whole community was thus witness to the lies of the military, which was trying to wash their hands of any responsibility for having killed innocent civilians.
This is called an "extrajudicial execution" and it is happening more and more in Colombia. Recently, a group of human rights experts participated in an international mission to investigate these civilian killings (click here to read the preliminary mission report and here to view a statement by U.S. NGOs). The report shows that from July 2002 to July 2007, extrajudicial executions rose by 66% compared to the previous five year period. This is the same five-year period that much of the $5 billion in US military aid has been sent to Colombia to "train" the Colombian military. As paramilitary forces are being demobilized, the army, under pressure to "get results," appears to be directly involved in more human rights abuses.
Right now action is being taken in the Senate to pressure the Colombian government on this issue. Senators Dodd and Feingold are currently circulating a "dear colleague" letter to Secretary of State Rice expressing concern over the alarming increase in killings by the Colombian army. The following Senators have already signed on: Dodd, Feingold, Kerry, Kennedy, Sanders, Brown and Boxer. Click here to read the letter.
The letter urges Secretary Rice to refrain from certifying military aid to Colombia until these human rights abuses are investigated, tried in civilian courts, and those responsible are brought to justice.
Contact your senators through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask them to send the message that human rights matter by signing onto this letter by February 15th.
Let's make sure our members of Congress continue to hear our message loud and clear - please encourage them to sign onto this letter and let them know that as US taxpayers, we don't want any of our money to go to the Colombian military, which is responsible for killing innocent civilians. No US military aid to Colombia! No certification of military aid!
FOR Colombia Program