Statement by the Permanent Assembly of Black Women in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali

(En Español)

June 3, 2017
Cali, Colombia

WE BLACK WOMEN SAY: WE ARE HERE WITH YOU, THE DIGNIFIED PEOPLES OF BUENAVENTURA

We are enormously proud of the resistance and bravery of the peoples of Buenaventura. We are proud of their peaceful action, their strong collective actions, and their willingness to overcome the provocations and violence on their bodies by the State and specifically the ESMAD anti-riot police. We – the Black Women of Northern Cauca and Cali – are declaring a permanent assembly with this action because we are one people (#SomosUnSoloPueblo).

Beginning on the afternoon of Friday, June 2, 2017, we occupied the offices of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali with the accompaniment of black youth that self-identify as the Maroon Guard (Guardia Cimarrona).

We came here because we feel the injustice, racism and disdain for black people by the Colombian State, which has manifested clearly during these last 19 days in the city of Buenaventura.

Throughout the civic strike in Buenaventura, we saw how the entities – whose constitutional obligation is to defend and respect the rights of Colombian citizens – have not fulfilled this mandate. The actions that they say they have carried out have not concluded in effective results because the police continue to use violence against a people who are protesting peacefully. The absence of statements and alerts about the humanitarian crisis in Buenaventura should be understood as complicit silence.

Therefore:

  1. Given the critical nature of the situation, we demand that the National Human Rights Ombudsman, Dr. Carlos Negret, go to Buenaventura and remain there until the aggressions against the population cease.
  2. We demand the immediate demilitarization of the territory of Buenaventura.
  3. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman send the Civic Strike Committee and national government an effective plan for accompaniment that corresponds with the situation in Buenaventura and identify a plan for action after the end of the strike.
  4. We demand a public statement by the national government guaranteeing a protection for the citizens of Buenaventura in the context of the civic strike that solicits an immediate end to excessive use of force against the community that feels attacked as if it were an armed actor.
  5. We demand the immediate demilitarization of the territory of Buenaventura.
  6. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman issue a detailed report on the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against the people of Buenaventura during the 19 days of the civic strike, which shows the state of the investigations into these acts and demonstrates what the reparations should be for the people whose physical integrity was affected by the aggressions.
  7. We solicit a report on the number of people sentenced or incarcerated in the context of the strike, the state of their cases, and the advances in securing their legal assistance. The report should specify what kind of assistance they received.
  8. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman act in good faith as a guarantor of the constitutional rights of the people of Buenaventura with the hope that your dialogue with the national government will expose the grave violations of human, ethnic, and collective rights. We hope that the national government will reevaluate the illegality of its response to a peaceful mobilization as if it was a war thereby violating the right to peaceful social protest and other related rights.
  9. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman take the public actions necessary to secure the rights of the black people of Buenaventura.
  10. We demand that the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman conduct a press conference with national and local media that covers the humanitarian crisis that affects Buenaventura by providing truthful information about it.

WE ARE FOR BUENAVENTURA!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP, NO!
FOR BUENAVENTURA!
THE PEOPLE WILL NEVER GIVE UP, NO!

Permanent Assembly of Black Women in the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Cali

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