National strike: Colombians' demand ‘peace with justice’

28 May 2016 - 12:15pm
Press release

On 30 May, millions of Colombians will take to the streets in protest against the country’s massive inequality and to demand a say in peace negotiations.

The national strike, under the banner of ‘The Agrarian, Ethnic, Rural and Popular Minga’, will see Colombians from diverse backgrounds call on Colombia’s President Santos to give them a seat at the negotiating table.

Peace in Colombia has all too often centred on government talks with the two armed insurgency groups, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejercito de Liberacíon Nacional (ELN), leaving the vast majority of Colombians side-lined and the voices of grassroots social movements silenced.

Previous protests in 2013/14 were met with brutal violence and repression, leaving 164 people dead, thousands injured and even more criminalised on trumped up charges designed to discourage any challenge to the status-quo.

Seb Munoz, Senior International Programmes Officer at War on Want, said:

“War on Want is proud to stand beside the millions of Colombians demanding a different kind of peace, one with social and environmental justice at its heart.”

“Colombians are fed up with having the terms of peace dictated to them by their government. They know that if their land, livelihoods, and culture are to be protected, they must be heard. They want their seat at the table and a decisive say in a plan for a just and lasting peace.

The human impact of Colombia’s 70 year conflict is stark: 220,000 people dead; thousands disappeared; and many more victims of sexual violence. Almost 7 million people have been forced from their homes, often violently, making Colombia the country with the second largest number of internally displaced people, surpassed only by Syria.

Seb Munoz, added:

“For too long, Colombians have been forced from their homes because of devastating government policies that continue hand over large swathes of land to foreign companies for destructive mining and industrial farming projects. Too often, these projects bring violence and a chilling array of human rights abuses, alongside lasting environmental damage to water sources and bio-diversity.

"Let's not forget, the UK is one of the top investors in Colombia and is complicit in the conflict. The operations of a number of UK-listed mining and energy companies such as BP, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, and their subsidiaries, have been accused of financing paramilitary groups, central to the violence in Colombia."

 

Notes to editors

Seb Munoz will be in Colombia during the national strike and is available for interviews.

For more information and to arrange interviews contact Ross Hemingway +44 (0)7983 550 728

Seb Munoz is the co-founder of Movimiento Jaguar Despierto

Colombia: Fighting for a different kind of peace 

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