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Congregations invited to stand with Colombians for peace and justice
March 28, 2013
Organized by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. Washington Office and other faith groups, Days of Prayer and Action is an annual event that invites people to pray reflectively and to ask the U.S. government to reallocate its financial support to Colombia from military to economic development and peace initiatives.
The urgency in this year’s theme, “Now is the Time for Peace with Justice,” reflects the critical nature of the peace process in Colombia.
“The stakes are high,” said Terry Jantzi, MCC representative for Colombia with his spouse Elizabeth Phelps. “While the Colombian government and FARC – Colombia’s largest rebel group – engage in negotiations after half a century of internal armed conflict, the victims of the conflict await peace with justice after years of injustice.”
Jantzi and Phelps are from Harrisonburg, Va.
The fighting has led to violence against civilians, widespread disappearances and scores of human rights violations. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, about 5.4 million Colombians also have been displaced from their homes in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Attacks on communities, threats against land restitution leaders and kidnappings have continued this year despite the ongoing peace process.
The violence has profoundly affected the churches in Colombia. According to a report issued by MCC Colombia partner Justapaz, 42 cases of human rights and international humanitarian law violations were perpetrated against 244 pastors, church leaders and church members in 2011. The perpetrators were neo-paramilitary groups, guerrilla combatants and the Colombian military.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to provide military aid to Colombia.
Days of Prayer and Action organizers urge U.S. citizens to talk to their government leaders about reallocating military funds as well as supporting a bilateral ceasefire, respect for human rights as negotiations proceed, opportunities for peacebuilding by churches and justice for everyone involved in the conflict – including reparations to victims.
Plans call for Sunday, April 28, to be dedicated to prayer. Monday, April 29, will focus on advocacy.
More information as well as resources and activities for Days of Prayer and Action are available through the MCC U.S. Washington Office. To access these materials and to learn more about the conflict and peace process, visit washington.mcc.org/days, or contact Theo Sitther at TheoSitther@mcc.org or (202)544-6564 x118.
Mennonite Central Committee: Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ