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Extrajudicial Killings in Colombia...Not In Our Name!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 7:00 p.m. "My name is Martha Lucia Giraldo Villano and I was born on June 22, 1978 in Cauca, Colombia. I am the daughter of José Orlando Giraldo, a small-scale farmer who was the victim of an extrajudicial killing by the National Army. In my country, there have been many extrajudicial killings that are also categorized as false positives (the killing of innocent civilians to pass them off as guerrillas killed in combat within the context of Colombia's armed conflict). The execution of my father is an example of a 'false-positive' murder."

"I am part of the Victims of State Crimes Movement. Along with other victims, we work together on organizing and training in order to demand our rights to truth, justice and reparation."

"My hope for the tour is to be able to expose the crimes of the Colombian government by sharing with people about the truth and reality of Colombia, the reality of the campesinos and the marginalized. With these murders have died dreams and life projects. It is important to recover the memory of our murdered relatives so that we can keep their memory alive and defeat impunity."

Since 2000, the U.S. government has provided nearly $5 billion in military and police funding to Colombia. Despite claims of an improved human rights record, thousands of civilians have been killed by this U.S. funded military in recent years.

Colombian human rights organizations report that 1,122 civilians were murdered by the Colombian Armed Forces between July 2002 and June 2007, a 68% increase over the previous five year period. The rate of such extrajudicial executions is still on the rise. Human rights organizations report that 535 civilians were killed by the Colombian military between January 2007 and June 2008.

Setting human rights conditions on U.S. funding to the Colombian military clearly has been ineffective in stemming these killings and bringing those responsible to justice.