Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) in partnership with UNISON in the Northern Region has been running a football tournament in Colombia for the past two years. The tournament: “Show Dispossession the Red Card: Let’s defend our territory” is organised by the Colombian Human Rights organisation Nomadesc along with social movements across southwest Colombia. Unison Northern Region have had a partnership with Nomadesc for 10 years.
This year myself, Gary Bennett (the former Sunderland AFC captain) and Olivier Bernard (former Newcastle United and Rangers FC player) arrived in Cali on Thursday 7th December to take part in a number of activities to mark the UN’s Human Rights Day on 10th December.
On Thursday 7th December a young activist called Viviana Trochez Dagua received her certificate from the Intercultural University of the Peoples at a graduation ceremony in the main plaza of the city of Cali. Myself, Gary and Oliver all participated in the event. Viviana’s dad attended her graduation ceremony and talked to Nomadesc of how proud he was of his daughter. The following day Viviana was murdered by an unidentified armed group. She was only 20 years old.
The funeral on Monday 11th December will stay with me for the rest of my life. The strength of Viviana’s dad and family was something to witness and the support of the indigenous community was incredible. I was asked to say a few words at the funeral and sent condolences from both SRtRC and UNISON to the family and community. I pledged to do all we could to make sure the world heard about her murder and about the continuing Human Rights abuses in Colombia . It is one thing to know about the Human Rights situation in Colombia, including the over 120 activists who have lost their lives this year, but when you are confronted with the body of a 20 year old young women with the rest of her life ahead of her the reality smashes you in the face.
Almost exactly one year ago the Colombian Prime Minister Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for the deal he negotiated with the FARC (a rebel group entitled Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) who had been fighting a 50 year old war with the Government. However, peace has not come to the people of Colombia, which is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world, particularly for human rights defenders and activists. Here is part of Nomadesc’s statement: “Vivana Trochez’s painful death fills us with fear, and alerts to the vulnerability in particular of young people with the proliferation of armed groups and the intensification of the armed conflict in the context of the peace process taking place in Colombia.
“We call upon the Colombian government to take action to provide the necessary guarantees for the communities in Cauca, who during the past week have suffered serious attacks by armed groups who go by different names in order to generate confusion, chaos and forced displacement.
“We alert the national and international community to the gravity of the growing presence of these armed groups in North and West Cauca, disputing control over the territory and in the process generating terror and mass displacement for communities.
“We request the presence, monitoring and support of international human rights organisations for indigenous communities in the area, who currently are in sites of temporary refuge and in a situation of extreme vulnerability.
“We demand that all armed actors respect the territory, life and autonomy of ethnic communities in Colombia.”
Show Racism the Red Card urge you to send a message of support to Nomadesc via email to Ged@theredcard.org
Sunday marked the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many communities in Colombia don’t have access to the basic human right to live without the fear of being murdered. Please help us in sending a message to the UN and Colombian Government to say things must change in 2018.