Message from the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 8:06 a.m. (original in Spanish)
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Because of our painful experience of being displaced, returning, and being persecuted by our own State and Government, we feel deeply rooted solidarity with the proposal made by some Syrian refugees who are trying to establish a humanitarian zone in Syria. The zone would be located near the Lebanese frontier, so that the Syrian refugees in Lebanon could return to their country and be accompanied there by international humanitarian organizations.

Our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in Colombia was founded because of the need to respond to the serious humanitarian crisis and forced displacement that our population went through in the years before 1997. First and foremost, several hundred people made the decision to take no part in the war and not to allow the different actors in the war to manipulate us or to consider us to be on one side or the other, depending on what was in their interest. Even though in the 21 years that have passed we have been surrounded by violence, we have succeeded in building a supportive community that little by little has been recognized as an independent community, without any weapons, that we are trying to build from a base of fundamental autonomy.

In our experience, international accompaniment has been very important. We are convinced that that accompaniment has saved many lives and has deterred many of the repressive policies of our government, because the most overwhelming power in this conflict that we have experienced in Colombia is the power of the government with its Army, its police and, above all with its paramilitary organizations. Those organizations are illegal, but they are supported and promoted by the official Armed Forces, and are purposely designed to be able to violate all of the laws of war, with unbelievable cruelty. They aim to destroy all of the social movements that are working for justice.

The cause of the Syrian people, as is the cause of everybody that is working for a more just and equal society, is the cause of all of true humanity. That is why, as a Peace Community, we make our own the proposal to establish a Humanitarian Zone, protected by international accompaniment, because with all of the legitimacy of humanity around the world, we are also part of that proposal.

In solidarity,

The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó
June 27, 2018

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