Last Updated:3/12/02
Letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell from U.S. non-governmental organizations, February 22, 2002

22nd February 2002

Dear Secretary Powell,

As international observers of Colombia's peace process we express our deep concern at the breakdown of peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). We urge you to use all possible means to ensure that the Colombian authorities fulfill their obligation to protect the civilian population in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).

We condemn violations of International Humanitarian Law by all armed actors, and in particular the kidnapping of Senator Jorge Gechen Turbay, and we call on those responsible for his abduction to immediately release him unharmed. The armed conflict in Colombia has often trapped civilians between armed actors, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of non-combatants and the displacement of nearly two million ordinary Colombians. We call on both sides to respect the rights of the civilian population as stated under International Humanitarian Law, especially at a moment of increased tension and fighting.

In particular we express our concern for those people living in the demilitarized zone. As the Colombian Armed Forces occupy the DMZ, we urge the Colombian government to rigorously fulfill its obligations, under Colombian and international law, to protect the human rights of the civilian population who live in the region. We call on the Colombian authorities to protect the civilian population against possible reprisals by paramilitary forces, who have repeatedly and publicly announced their intention to enter the DMZ during any reoccupation of the area.

Furthermore, we urge you to make clear to the Colombian government that recent US military assistance to Colombia, including Black Hawk and Huey helicopters delivered to Colombian authorities in the last few months, was allocated by Congress for counternarcotics operations only. We ask you to ensure that no US military equipment or US funded battalions are used in the operation to retake the DMZ.

We are saddened by the collapse of peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC. Both sides are convinced of their own ability to win a war, however the most likely outcome is an intensified stalemate with devastating consequences for the civilian population. The only long-term solution is a political one. We call on the United States government to clearly express its support for a negotiated settlement.

We commend the work of the many individuals, ordinary Colombians, academics, social leaders and members of the government, who continue to support a political solution as the only viable outcome to this conflict.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Jeffery
US Office on Colombia

Marie Dennis
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

David Moczulski, OFM
Executive Director
Franciscan Washington Office for Latin America

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Patricia Forner
Public Policy Advisor Latin America and the Caribbean
Office of Public Policy & Advocacy
World Vision US

Coletta Youngers
Senior Associate for the Andes
Washington Office on Latin America

Jason Hagen
Associate for Colombia
Washington Office on Latin America

Edward (Ned) W. Stowe
Legislative Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Martha Honey
Peace and Security Program
Institute for Policy Studies

Ann Butwell
Ecumenical Program on Central America & the Caribbean

Scott Wright
Program Director
Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean

Sandra Alvarez
Colombia Program Coordinator
Global Exchange

Kevin B. Zeese
Common Sense for Drug Policy

Wes Callender
Voices on the Border

Steve Bennett
Executive Director
Witness for Peace

Susan Saudek
Policy Associate
SHARE Foundation

Gary L. Cozette
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)

Barbara Gerlach and Cristina Espinel
Colombia Human Rights Committee, Washington DC

Ingrid Vaicius
Center for International Policy

Rick Ryscavage
Jesuit Refugee Service (USA)

Rev. John L. McCullough
Executive Director
Church World Service

Rev. Bob Edgar
General Secretary
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA

John Lindsay Poland
Fellowship of Reconciliation - Task Force on Latin America and

Holly Miller
Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ

Lynn M. Thomas
Executive Director
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

David A. Vargas
Executive Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
Global Ministries, United Church of Christ/Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

James Matlack
Director, Washington Office
American Friends Service Committee

Alice Zachmann
Guatemala Human Rights Commission, USA

Sanho Tree
Drug Policy Project
Institute for Policy Studies

J.E. McNeil
Executive Director
Center of Conscience and War

David Schott
Legislative Liaison
Sister Parish

Andres Pastrana, President
Camilo Gomez, High Commissioner for Peace
Gustavo Bell, Defense Minister

Curt Strubble, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Lorne Craner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Micheal Parmly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Marc Grossman, Undersecretary for Political Affairs
Thomas Shannon, Director for Andean Affairs
Danika Walters, International Relations Officer, Bilateral Affairs Office, Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Senator Chafee
Senator Dodd
Senator Feingold
Senator Leahy
Senator McConnell
Senator Wellstone
Representative Ballenger
Representative Kolbe
Representative Lowey
Representative McGovern
Representative Menendez
Representative Pelosi
Representative Schakowsky

James LeMoyne, UN Secretary General's Special Representative on the Peace Process in Colombia

Please respond to Neil Jeffery, Director, US Office on Colombia, Phone 202-232-8090, Fax 202-232-8092

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