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Standing Up with Afro-Colombian Activists

Photo credit: Latina.com and @LAWGAction/Twitter

Background

Afro-Colombians have historically faced racial discrimination and violence. During Colombia’s decades-long war, the community -- especially Afro-Colombian women and girls -- has been targeted with displacement, forced labor, torture and sexual violence.

What happened?

In Buenaventura, a major port city on Colombia’s Pacific coast with a large Afro-Colombian population, activists were peacefully protesting to demand basic necessities like running water, health services, jobs, and schools -- as well as a voice in implementing Colombia’s peace agreement.

Police officers at the protest used brutal and disproportionate force, leaving one protester dead and many injured. The Colombian government failed to condemn this violence.

Photo Credit: Carib Flame/Twitter @XimenaCanal

What did we do?

With our local partner, PCN (Proceso de Comunidades Negras), we sent a letter to the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons of African Descent and Against Racial Discrimination from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

We drew attention to the use of force and listed the broader demands of the Afro-Colombian community.

How did the IACHR respond?

The Inter-American Commission released a statement condemning the use of force and calling for greater attention to human rights violations against Afro-Colombians.

This is a small but powerful victory, and the fight for rights is far from over.

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June 28, 2017  / Latin America and Carribean