Above photo: Sara Quiñonez (left) and Tulia Maris Valencia. Photo credit: Afro Colombian Solidarity Network. From Black Alliance for Peace.
Human-rights and social-justice organizations in Colombia as well as the international community demand all charges be dropped and the state immediately release Afro-Colombian activists imprisoned on frivolous “terrorism” charges.
The ability to move swiftly to defend these two activists, Sara Quiñonez and Tulia Maris Valencia, will impact the Pan-African struggle worldwide.
*See below for background on this case.*
TAKE ACTION NOW!
- We were asking folks to send an email to Colombia’s attorney general, but the state disabled the email address, so instead you are asked to
- Sign on to an international letter demanding the state drop charges and release of the activists,
- Write a message on Colombia’s Facebook page (see below), or
- Tweet at the authorities (copy and paste tweets below).
ORGANIZATIONS CAN SIGN THIS LETTER
You can also post the following Spanish message onto the agency’s Facebook page or within the comments of their most recent post: Fiscalia Colombia
#SarayTuliaMarisLibres! Son mujeres Negras defensoras de la vida en los territorios ancestrales del #PuebloNegro del Consejo Comunitario Alto Mira y Frontera en Tumaco donde la vida se asedia cada minuto. #Justicia!
ESPAÑOL —> .@FiscaliaCol #SarayTuliaMarisLibres! Son mujeres Negras defensoras de la vida en los territorios ancestrales del #PuebloNegro del Consejo Comunitario Alto Mira y Frontera en Tumaco donde la vida se asedia cada minuto. #Justicia! #SarayTuliaMarisLibres! @PGN_COL @CIDH @renacientes
ENGLISH —> .@FiscaliaCol, #FreeSaraAndTuliaMaris! These Black women are defending the right to life in the ancestral territories of the Afro-Colombian Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera in Tumaco. There, Blacks are relentlessly attacked. #Justicia! @PGN_COL @CIDH @Renacientes
On Friday, April 20, the Colombian government arrested around 30 people in southwestern Colombia, including Afro-Colombian leaders Sara Quiñonez and her mother Tulia Maris Valencia based on accusations of narcotics trafficking and working with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group. However, both Quiñonez and Valencia are members of the Black Communities’ Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras, PCN) social movement and have risked their lives to defend the individual and collective rights of Afro-Colombians.
The arrests of Black activists are part of a systematic campaign to challenge the legitimacy of Afro-Colombian rights, and criminalizing the defense of human rights undermines the tenuous status of the Peace Accords. In 2012, another PCN activist Felix Banguero was arrested along with 27 others under similar circumstances for allegedly belonging to the FARC. After spending more than two years in an overcrowded prison, Banguero was released based on insufficient evidence. He continues to maintain his innocence and remains committed to the struggle for Afro-Colombian rights.
The arrests of Quiñonez and Valencia are particularly concerning. Quiñonez currently has protective measures from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) due to death threats against her and the entire leadership of the Community Council of Alto Mira and Frontera located in Tumaco on the Colombian border with Ecuador. Quiñonez continued to defend the rights of the Afro-Colombian Community Council, even after the high-profile murders of her fellow community leaders Genaro Garcia in 2016 and Jair Cortés in 2017. Following the murders, Quiñonez was forcibly displaced with her family, including her mother, Maris, to another part of the country where she received protection measures provided by Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP).
The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) expresses deep concern regarding their arrests and joins the call of the Colombian social movements to drop the charges and release Quiñonez and her mother, Tulia. “If our leaders (lideres y lideresas) stay in the territory, they are murdered—if they leave the territory, they are criminalized.”
For additional information, please contact:
Charo Mina Rojas, International Coordinator of the Black Communities’ Process (PCN): firstname.lastname@example.org
Gimena Sanchez, Director for the Andes of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA): email@example.com
Anthony Dest, Coordinating Committee of Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN): firstname.lastname@example.org