White House, Washington, D.C. - On Sunday, April 10, 27 human rights activists were arrested in front of the White House when they staged a die-in on the White House sidewalk to call attention to thousands of Latin Americans who were murdered by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Kevin Moran, a Presbyterian Peace Fellowship National Committee member from Atlanta, Georgia, was among those arrested, as was Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch. The die-in followed a march of hundreds of human rights activists to the White House. The march included torture survivors, union workers, educators and students from across the Americas. Marchers carried banners, flags and large puppets, including a 14-foot tall Mother of the Disappeared with them to the White House.
Photos of the march, the nonviolent direct action and the arrests will be available on the SOA Watch webpage www.SOAW.org soon.
With 5.2 million internally-displaced persons officially registered by Colombian human rights group CODHES, Colombia is now host to the largest internal-displacement crisis in the world. This means that 1 in 11 Colombians have been violently forced to flee from their homes and are living as refugees in their own country, while another half million people have been forced to live in desperate conditions outside its borders.
“The power of nonviolence is not circumstance-specific. It is as applicable to the problems that confront us now, as to problems that confronted generations in the past. It is not a medicine or a solution so much as healing process. It is the active spiritual immune system of humanity.”
-Marianne Williamson from her book The Healing of America
Following Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Revs. Adelaida Jimenéz Cortes and Gloria Ulloa stayed on with
Revs. Linda Eastwood and Shannan Vance-Ocampo of PPF to visit with congressional offices in D.C. to discuss the impact of the proposed Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). We are especially grateful to Catherine Gordon and Rev. J. Herbert Nelson of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness for all of her help and support, along with our other interfaith and NGO partners in DC: David Golemboski of the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment, Lisa Haugaard and Vanessa Kritzer of the Latin America Working Group, and Annalise Romoser of Lutheran World Relief.
We are already having a busy few first days in Washington DC! Adelaida Jiménez Cortes and Gloria Ulloa have been visiting with Presbyterians and other ecumenical partners for the last two days at Ecumenical Advocacy Days. PPFers Linda Eastwood and Shannan Vance-Ocampo have been helping facilitate their visits along with others from PPF, and our friends at the Office for Public Witness!
Pastors Gloria Ulloa and Adelaida Jimenez Cortes (see photos and bios on the convocation page) of the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia will be visiting the Presbyterian Church (USA) in late March/early April of 2011 for speaking engagements, advocacy on behalf of the IPC, and to tell the story of accompaniment. Below is their travel schedule, much of which is open to the public. If you would like to participate and visit with them, please be in touch with Rev.
"We want to shout out to the world, and no one will be able to keep us silent: forced displacement is still happening in Colombia, which is why we are asking for solidarity. We aren't terrorists, we aren't criminals; we are farmers whose dignity and rights have been stolen from us."
These were the words of a community leader from the central department (province) of Tolima, who asked not to be identified because he has received threats.