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Home Facts Victims and Survivors Colombia San Jose Massacre Sample Materials Sample Letter to the State Department
Sample Letter to the State Department PDF Print E-mail
Today's Date, 2007

Ambassador Michael Kozak
Acting Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St. Washington, DC 20520

Fax: (202) 647-5283

I am writing to express my condemnation of the February 2005 massacre of eight men, women and children in San Jose de Apartado in northwest Colombia. Internationally respected peace leader and co-founder of the San Jose Peace Community, Luis Eduardo Guerra, his son and partner were among the victims; their assassins were identified by witnesses as members of the Colombian military's 17th Brigade. Given allegations of military involvement in this atrocity, I urge the Department of State to withhold certification of assistance to the Colombian military until there is a transparent, impartial investigation and prosecution by civilian authorities of the authors of this massacre. In addition, certification should not be granted until there is effective investigation and prosecution of army officials involved in human rights abuses and greater progress in breaking links between the army and paramilitary forces.

I am especially concerned by President Uribe's statements on March 20, 2005 accusing leaders and defenders of the Peace Community of lending support to the FARC guerrillas. These broad public statements put at risk all residents of San Jose de Apartado, as well as those who accompany them.

Regarding the San Jose de Apartado case, I respectfully urge the State Department to respond through the following actions:
  • Vigorously pressure the Colombian government to conduct transparent investigations in civilian courts and prosecute those responsible;
  • Direct the U.S. Embassy to issue a public statement condemning the massacre and to visit San Jos? de Apartado to show concern for the community's safety;
  • Call on the Colombian government to provide protective measures to the community in consultation with community members, as required by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;
  • Support the Peace Community's need for protective measures to exclude the presence inside the community's populated areas of armed forces.
I am distressed by the loss of civilian life in the Colombian conflict. I am especially concerned about these human rights abuses due to the massive U.S. financial support given to the Colombian army. The State Department should send a strong message to the Colombian government on human rights by denying certification until the armed forces sever its links with paramilitaries and the Colombian government takes effective action against impunity for these crimes.

I look forward to hearing back from you on your actions to ensure justice for the peace communities in Colombia. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

your name

Thanks to Peace Brigades International Colombia Project for this sample letter.
 

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