The International Verification Mission and Las Pavas
From November 27 until December 2, forty people from 15 countries went to Colombia to look into how safe is to defend human rights in Colombia. The International Verification Mission on the Defence of Human Rights in Colombia was set to evaluate recommendations issued by United Nations Special Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya, who visited Colombia in September 2009, after illegal surveillance and harassment of human rights defenders, justices, political opposition by Colombian intelligence agencyDAS was unveiled in April 2009. A campaign for the Right to Defend Human Rights was launched soon after, aimed at achieving progress in five fronts: increasing security of human rights defenders, ending impunity for attacks committed against them and stopping the misuse of intelligence, baseless prosecution and stigmatization of human rights defenders, including by public officials.
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On November 18-19, the Church of the Brethren hosted the annual meeting of the Historic Peace Churches/Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultative Committee for a time of fellowship, mutual support and conversation on ecumenical engagement for peace and justice.
The Historic Peace Churches (HPC)/Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Consultative Committee (“Committee” below) is a group of Friends, Brethren, Mennonites and representatives of the Fellowship of Reconciliation USA. Members have historically come together to uphold the Gospel of peace through dialogue and advocacy in faith circles and support for appropriate interventions where nonviolent witness is needed.
Last pack smokedSan José de Apartadó, Colombia – I quit smoking on November 7. I am still in a state of permanent nic-fit, but doing better. My body has been pretty crazy all month, so confused about why it is doing this to itself. I had a headache for ten straight days. In the 103,842,476 degree heat I put on a sweatshirt with the cold sweats. I fall asleep kicking at night and wake up at 2AM wanting to smoke. I chew gum like a rabid squirrel chews an acorn. People keep telling me I “didn’t look well” and for the first couple days I kept thinking I was going to vomit. I shake so much that people now impersonate me unable to drink a glass of water and laugh amongst themselves. But I am doing it. And I will make it. Addiction is a strange thing. The mind never ceases to amaze. There is now a sign on my wall that reads: Dear Gina, you no longer smoke, so find something else to do.
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The protests were motivated by a bill introduced in Congress by President Juan Manuel Santos to reform the underfunded higher education system using a controversial market approach that relied on loans offered by the financial sector, with a close resemblance to the Chilean model that has also sparked massive protests. The students for months had been unsuccessfully voicing their opposition to the bill. So, soon after it was sent to Congress they declared a student strike, and classes at almost all public universities were suspended as protests continued in the succeeding weeks.
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