Next Amnesty Action Circle: 7:00 pm Comox United Church Monday, Nov. 11
Columbia Peace talks 2013
The Little Red Church, 2182 Comox Avenue
Saturday, November 2 7:00 pm
Tuesday, November 12 – 7:30 pm – Stan Hagen Theatre, North Island College
What Comox Valley Amnesty is about. Read more…
THE NEW IDEA! Since the April meeting, Lois, Monika and Rachel met to discuss the idea of holding letter-writing events for the public, separate from our business meetings. They suggest that core members could take on one month a year (8 months which have no other event planned), choose a location, arrange for advertising, and pick an Urgent Action. UAs can be seen at http://www.amnesty.org
Members present volunteered to take the months remaining for this year, as follows:
June – Monika
July – Vivien
August – Rachel
September – Lois
This initiative will be known as “Amnesty in Action”, and this will appear on advertising for each event, as well as the subject heading for member emails alerting our membership to an upcoming letter-writing event.
The committee has set up a supply tote box which the volunteer for the event can take along.
Thanks to the committee for these inspired ideas, which we hope will attract more people to write letters and learn also about our Burma prisoner of conscience.
Today was a day we have hoped and campaigned for for so long.
Many high profile political prisoners have been released. Incredibly, despite years of detention and while still waiting to be reunited with family and friends, some wanted to pass on special thanks, to you.
These releases are fantastic news, but there are still many prisoners left in jail, and the laws under which released prisoners were arrested are still in place. We’ll be in touch soon about a new campaign to ensure independent monitors can enter Burma’s jails and assess how many political prisoners still need to be released.
In addition to the news on political prisoners today, yesterday there was another significant development, the agreement in principle of a ceasefire between the military-backed government and the Karen National Union (KNU).
Years of international calls to release long-detained political prisoners seem to have pushed the government to finally do the right thing. The government should ensure that there are no obstacles to these activists participating in public life and upcoming elections.
34 Indigenous nations at risk: please sign urgent petition:
When will Canada address the emergency
for Indigenous peoples at risk of extinction in Colombia?
Dear Human Rights Supporter,
“We fear the Wayúu will become completely extinct.”
Chilling testimony recently heard by one of the highest human rights bodies in our hemisphere captured little attention in Canada. It should have, given the humanitarian catastrophe it revealed.
At a special hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March, Angélica Ortiz appealed for the very survival of her people, the Wayúu Indigenous Nation in Colombia’s Guajira peninsula. The appeal came during a special hearing to investigate the human rights impacts of mining.
Large-scale coal mining has had disastrous impacts on indigenous communities in La Guajira, testified the Wayúu leader, who described environmental contamination, the loss of valued plants and food crops, as well as an increase in cancer and other diseases.
Equally devastating, Ms. Ortiz testified, is the militarization that has come with mining development, the escalation of armed conflict and grave human rights abuses, including killings and sexual violence against Indigenous women. “Many people have felt compelled to flee … but displacement is a huge threat to our survival,” says Ms. Ortiz. “We fear the Wayúu will become completely extinct.”
This is a story that needs to be told. And we need your help to bring the urgency of the matter to the attention of Canada’s government.
< < Please take a few minutes to call on the Canadian government to take responsible action.
In 2009, the Constitutional Court of Colombia determined 34 Indigenous Nations – including the Wayúu – to be in imminent danger of physical or cultural extermination due to the impact of armed conflict and forced displacement. The Court called the situation “an emergency which is as serious as it is invisible”.
It goes without saying that the extinction of Indigenous Peoples in any part of the world – and with them their culture, spirituality, language, ancestral knowledge and traditional practices — should be cause for concern and action by citizens everywhere.
But there are urgent imperatives why the emergency situation facing Indigenous Peoples in Colombia belongs squarely on Canada’s political agenda, not the least of which is a free trade agreement with Colombia and vigorous promotion by the government of Canada of investment in resource extraction projects on Colombian soil.
Colombia remains a country in the midst of a vicious armed conflict between insurgent groups, government forces and army-backed paramilitaries. The conflict has been marked by human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all of the warring parties, with civilians by far the principal victim. The conflict has also frequently been used as a cover for acquiring control over land of strategic value or mineral wealth, including land inhabited by and crucial to the survival of Indigenous Peoples.
It is obvious that engaging in resource development in a context in which people are violently driven from their lands inevitably carries a high risk of inadvertently fueling and contributing to these grave human rights violations.
In 2001, Embera Katío Indigenous leader Kimy Pernía Domicó was “disappeared” after he came to Canada to speak out about the impacts on his people of a hydro-electric project partially financed by a Canadian crown corporation.
Today, the Embera Katío are on the Constitutional Court’s list of 34 Indigenous Nations on the brink of physical or cultural extinction.
The time is well overdue to lift the veil of silence around the emergency situation facing Indigenous Peoples in Colombia and ensure that Canada is part of the solution.
Please sign our urgent petition.
Amnesty International Canada
P.S. We need this story to be told. The slideshow is an online representation of a photo exhibit produced by Amnesty International and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, featuring striking images by photographer Juan Pablo Gutíerrez. The exhibit has been displayed in Ottawa and has an upcoming booking in Vancouver. If you can arrange a showing in a prominent location in your community please contact us at email@example.com. Of course, we’ve developed the slideshow so that we can reach many more people – please share it with your friends by sending them the link below, or view the last page of the slideshow to learn more about how you can share it on facebook, twitter and other social media platforms.