Update, February 19, 2010
Martha Giraldo was subjected to a chilling death threat earlier this week in Cali, Colombia. Two SUVs with tinted windows -- the vehicle of choice of Colombian assassins -- tried to run her car off of the road. As they pulled up beside her, they pulled out guns and pointed them at her. They never fired a shot, but the message was clear: we can kill you, and will, if you don't keep quiet.
Excerpts from Sara Koopman blog:
A few days ago unidentified men attempted to force Martha Giraldo’s car to crash, then approached her bulletproof car and aimed their machine guns at her.
Who wants to kill Martha? Why do they want to kill her? Martha is a key witness in the case of several Colombian army soldiers who are accused of killing her father, Orlando Giraldo, an innocent civilian, and dressing him up to look like a guerrilla (to improve their 'combat kill' body count). He was one of thousands of documented cases of so called 'false positives'. There has yet to be any justice in any of these cases. Instead there have been countless delays in the few cases that have made it to court, and many threats and attacks. Just last year Martha's uncle was shot in the head while he was en route to testify in this case.
Martha is incredibly brave to keep pressing forward on this case. Not only did she continue going to court after her uncle was shot, she came to the United States to speak about this case! She testified just a few months ago in front of Fort Benning at the SOA vigil (see photo), connecting the training of Colombian soldiers there to atocities like her father's murder.
Please take a few minutes to CALL the State Department Colombia desk. You are likely to get an answering machine but leave a brief message regardless. If someone picks up, be brief, polite and to the point.
The State Department contacts to call are Terry Steers-Gonzalez (202-647-4173) or Susan Sanford (202-647-3142). Below is a sample of the issues you should address:
I am deeply concerned for the safety of Martha Giraldo and her family in Colombia. Martha's father was killed by the Colombian military in March 2006. Members of the 3rd Brigade are currently on trial for the killing. As Martha and her family have been working to bring justice to this case, they have received threats and her uncle--a witness in the case--was shot in the head by assassins last year. This week, while Martha was driving through Cali, gunmen tried to run her off of the road and pointed their guns at her.
Given the seriousness of this case, I ask that the State Department take a special interest in it. Please urgently communicate your concern for the safety of Martha Giraldo, and the rest of her family, to the appropriate Colombian government authorities, as they are at serious risk simply for calling for justice in the case against the killers of Jose Orlando Giraldo.
Also, as is typical in Colombia, the trial against her father's killers has been repeatedly stalled. I urge you to inquire about the status of the Jose Orlando Giraldo trial and express the State Department's interest in its swift completion.
Finally, please send Martha and her family a short letter of support. Knowing she has support makes a huge difference in her spirits and her ability to keep moving forward on this case.
Please take a minute to send Martha a letter --in English or in Spanish (Witness for Peace will translate them if need be).
Please also hold Martha in your hearts and prayers, hold her in the light, send her energy of protection, or however it is you think of these things. Thanks for taking a few minutes to protect Martha and support the struggle for justice.
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