FOR Peace Presence (FORPP) is a sister branch to FOR-USA within the International FOR movement, providing life-saving human rights accompaniment to threatened activists and communities in Colombia. Because of the false perception of peace in Colombia following the Nov. 2016 signing of the national peace accords, FORPP has seen a dramatic decrease in support from institutional donors. Since then, FORPP has struggled to maintain its team of accompaniers.
FORPP is committed to accompanying communities standing up for their rights and land, but its resources are unable to respond to the massive need — which includes an increase in requests for FORPP’s work.
Originally a project of FOR-USA for more than a decade, since 2013 FORPP has operated as an independent entity and currently works on a shoestring budget of under US$130,000 per year, which manages a continuous team of three to five full-time international accompaniers.
Last May, FOR Peace Presence accompanied a humanitarian mission to the Chocó region, after four community leaders were kidnapped and killed in April. FOR Peace Presence accompanier, Kati from Connecticut, shared this reflection about the accompaniment:
The Naya River, in a remote part of Western Colombia, serves as the public road for the 64 communities living in wooden houses on stilts along the riverbanks. The backdrop is a lush green forest. This area doesn’t have reliable cell service, so word also travels by boat. While we rode along the four-hour route from the mouth of the river to the community we stayed in, the leader traveling with us would often ask to pause for a minute to share the details of their upcoming assembly to people on the riverbank. We’d wait until they shouted back “sounds good!” and then continue on our way. Most people work as farmers and fisherman, but the recent attacks have left civilians fearful of continuing the work that sustains them and their families. The poor phone service only furthers the sense of isolation and insecurity.
Many families displaced from the Rio Naya community, after armed men came to the settlement looking for Iver, the brother of one of the leaders who was kidnapped. In May, the armed group followed through on their threats, taking Iver hostage in the presence of representatives from the Colombian government’s Human Rights Ombudsmen office, an incredibly bold and threatening move.
24 human rights defenders were killed over a one-month period this summer in Colombia, averaging almost one death per day. Last year was the deadliest year on record for human rights defenders and community leaders in Colombia. These assassinations must stop — Enough!, ¡Basta ya!
Residents in the Humanitarian Zones remain resolute about resisting armed actors inside their communities. Just last month, they requested permanent accompaniment from FOR Peace Presence in their region.
FOR-USA has a 100-year legacy of helping to found, incubate, and launch creative projects that have gone on to do powerful global work for social justice (such as the ACLU, the Congress of Racial Equality, and Eveywitness Palestine).
In 2002, FOR-USA initiated a new phase of work in Colombia. Eleven years later, in 2013, FOR Peace Presence became an independent entity with FOR-USA’s support.
We are proud that over the last five years, FORPP has developed and grown as an independent organization. But we urgently need your help to ensure that FORPP can continue to stand with Colombian communities defending life, land, and dignity — communities that are working to build peace on a daily basis from the ground up.