Press Release - San José de Apartadó receives the Aachener Peace Award 2007
By LEILA DREGGER
Press Release about Mai 08, 2007
We are very pleased that the Peace Village San José de Apartadó in Colombia is going to receive the Aachener Peace Award this year. In this case this price may even save lives: Any international attention protects the brave citizens of San José from the violent attacks of paramilitary, army and guerrilla. This is what we experienced personally during our stay in San José only some weeks ago.
We are touched by these people, by their courage and by the joy of life and the warm-heartedness they radiate despite of all the suffering.
In Colombia hundreds of thousands of farmers find themselves between the fronts of different armed groups. More than 3 million of them have become refugees in their country during the last decades. This didn’t change with the alleged disarmament of the paramilitary by the Uribe government either. The inhabitants of San José, however, don’t allow for any group to drive them away. They declared their village to not take sides and to be committed to the ideal of non-violence. They have been paying a high price for that: During the ten years of its existence 168 inhabitants of the village have been brutallymurdered. If San José is going to survive this will be a signal of hope for all of Colombia for all Campesinos and expelled people and particularly for the other fifteen Colombian peace communities. Together with these other peace communities they founded a “University of Resistance”, where they want to learn and teach techniques of survival: agriculture and nutrition, health, law, education & training. Meanwhile, international groups help to provide the necessary political support.
The IGP has been standing in close cooperation with the peace village since years. At first we took over parentships for children, through the mediation of the opposition politician and UNESCO Mayoress of Peace Gloria Cuartas. After the terrible massacre on February 21st 2005, after the people left their original village – because of the soldiers who were stationed their against the will of the inhabitants, violating their principle of no-arms – and the foundation of the new village San Josecito we have been investing our help: By means of public relation work (among other with website www.sos-sanjose.org and by the organisation of vigils in front of Colombian embassies in Europe), by introducing young inhabitants of San Josesito to basic skills of solar technologies, by youth exchange, help with the building up of the school and lobby work in Colombia and Europe. For, as mentioned before: What protects the village most, is publicity and the presence of internationals.
This year eight co-workers of the IGP (Institute for Global Peace Work) visited the peace village San Josecito for several weeks, among them the directors of the IGP Sabine Lichtenfels and Benjamin von Mendelssohn.
- In cooperation with a German company (Sunvention, Lörrach) and a Colombian company (Efiambiental, Bogota) we built up a solar energy production system and a water treatment system. -
- We founded a Puesto Salud, a kind of first aid station for the most basic health care.
- We helped with an alphabetisation campaign for adults.
- With our presence and the accompanying of the particularly threatened leaders of the village we served as living protection shields for the village and its leaders.
- Sabine Lichtenfels chiselled a stone as a symbol of friendship and protection, which was set together with the inhabitants of San José on a communitarian holyday.
Through the protection of international presence the peace villager could celebrate its tenth anniversary in relative security and go for a silent march to town – a way that they can normally only go under risk of life.
The village is still threatened though. Still its inhabitants are running the risk to be killed on their way to town or when working on their fields, as soon as there are no more international guests present.
This is why the help for San Jose must become still more binding.
We want to support the “University of Resistance” to become embedded in the international peace movement. There are villages and groups worldwide in similar situations of being threatened. All of them need the same knowledge, all of them need to learn to live off their land, to produce energy in a decentralized way and to hold together and to solve their conflicts also under the most difficult conditions.
We want to help that the University of Resistance becomes part of the Global Campus, an internationally networked initiative for education, where in many parts of the world peace knowledge can be taught and learned and in the core of which stands the knowledge about conflict solution and building up of community – next to solar technology, non-violent resistance and ecology.
We want to point to the following projects/events:
- From July 19 – to July 28, 2007 an International Summer University with the title “Global Campus” will take place in Tamera. Among others Gloria Cuartas and some inhabitants of the peace village San José will be our guests. See: www.tamera.org
- In autumn 2008 a first international training/education time will take place in San José. International specialists for ecology, solar technology, non-violence and conflict solution will come, among others Sami Awad (Non-violent Action, Holylandtrust Bethlehem), Jürgen Kleinwächter (Solar Technology, Lörrach), Sepp Holzer (Ecology and Agriculture / Austria) and Sabine Lichtenfels (one of the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel peace prize 2005, social competence and conflict solution/ IGP, Portugal).
For these activities and for San José de Apartadó financial as well as personal support are very welcome. Please contact us!
Please request the Open Letter by Sabine Lichtenfels, which she wrote after her visit to San José: "The Idea of the Global Campus”.
For further information, pictures and a detailed description please refer to: www.sos-sanjose.org
Thanks a lot
Katja Long, Andrea Regelmann, Iris Lindstedt
IGP-Institute for Global Peace Work
Tamera – Healing Biotope 1 • Monte do Cerro • P - 7630 Colos • Portugal •
ph.: + • Fax: - 374 • email: