On 25 November, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, la Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres and the National Movement of Women Against War are organising activities in Putumayo and elsewhere in Colombia, calling for a negotiated end to armed conflict, for demilitarisation and the respect of women's rights, and for alternatives to fumigation as a means to eradicate illegal crops.
The Colombia Working Group and the Women's Working Group of War Resisters' International - an international pacifist organisation founded in 1921 with affiliates in more than 30 countries - wish to express our solidarity with the women who have organised and are taking these actions. We see the nonviolent initiatives of these women as a sign of hope for the future of Colombia, but we are concerned for their safety and that everybody should respect their right to express their views.
The women of Putumayo know better than anybody the impact of the armed conflict in their region, it is their bodies that are violated by men in arms and it is the sons and daughters they have reared who are abducted and forced into arms by the guerrilla or so-called self-defence groups. It is they too who know best the impact of the fumigations, of how spraying damages the health of whole communities and is ineffective in eradicating the cultivation of coca and other illegal crops. They call for more gradual strategies of eradication of illegal crops and for the fulfilment of the promises made to those who refuse to grow coca but choose instead to plant other crops.
We urge that their voices be heard.
Yours in peace
Women's Working Group, War Resisters' International
Colombia Working Group, War Resisters' International