Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Nonviolent Action in Colombia

The ecumenical advocacy platform DIPAZ (Inter-church Dialogue for Peace), which IELCO is a founding member, has been developing this year what will be called the “School for Nonviolent Action”. One of the three areas of focus for the work of DIPAZ is Anti-militarism and Nonviolent Action, and the School is being developed as a way to offer society other means of social struggle.

As Colombia is in a process of implementing the peace agreement it signed at the end of 2016 with the FARC guerrilla group (now a legal political party), and is in the process of negotiating with the ELN (National Liberation Army), it has been identified that the time is now for developing different methods.

As part of the process of developing the School, DIPAZ held a public forum on Monday, April 23rd. Invited speakers and panelists from around Colombia as well as other parts of Latin America and the world shared their thoughts around the question: “What are the challenges and the opportunities for nonviolent action in the Colombian context of post-accords”? We also listened to examples and 
experiences from Colombian communities around nonviolence and efforts they have already begun.

During one of the panels representatives of CONPAZ (communities building peace
in the territories) sang their movement hymn, before they shared their experience
of nonviolent resistance in Colombia. Photo from DIPAZ.
Thanks to the Colombian Seeds of Freedom Network, after the forum we handed out a plant and/or a
small package of native and organic seeds. On each bag of seeds and each plant was written the name
of one of the more than 280 community leaders and human rights defenders that have been
killed in Colombia since the signing of the peace agreements. Photo by Katie.
A very special highlight of the forum was world-renowned singer Anthony Brown ( ho told stories and sang songs of peacebuilding around the world.

Anthony Brown singing a song about the experience of the nonviolent movement
of Martin Luther King Jr. Photo by Katie
We were fortunate to spend some time with Anthony while he was in Colombia. It was very inspiring to listen to stories of his peacebuilding work all over the world.
One of the songs Anthony sang is titled "Make Them Hear You", here are the powerful lyrics:

Go out and tell our story
Let it echo far and wide
Make them hear you
Make them hear you

How that justice was our battle
And how justice was denied
Make them hear you
Make them hear you

And I say to those who blame us
For the way we chose to fight
That sometimes there are battles
That are more than black or white

And I could not put down my sword
When justice was my right
Make them hear you
Make them hear you

Go out and tell our story
To your daughters and your sons
Make them hear you
Make them hear you

And tell them in our struggles
We were not the only ones
Make them hear you
Make them hear you

Your sword can be a sermon
Or the power of the pen
Teach every child to raise their voice
And then my brothers, then

Will justice be demanded
By ten million righteous men
When they hear you

I’ll be near you, again.