Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) have recently been involved in a project collaboration between UNISON Northern, Nomadesc and communities in Southwest Colombia. SRtRC Chief Executive, Ged Grebby, travelled to Colombia last week with former Sunderland AFC Captain, Gary Bennett, and former Newcastle United FC Defender, Olivier Bernard to visit communities in the Southwest of the country.
·UNISON Northern has been involved in supporting human rights in southwest Colombia for the past ten years, supporting trade unions and social sectors who are affected by the armed conflict and political violence
·The project was about using football as a means of protecting human rights in Colombia, working with young people in areas which in different ways have been affected by violence and displacement through the armed conflict, and whose territories are under threat, for example from mining or corporate redevelopment projects.
· Despite the recent peace agreement between the government and FARC (one of the three guerrilla movements in Colombia), violence against activist is still rife. A report this week from local NGOs said that 101 activists were murdered over the past year.
During the trip Ged, Olivier and Gary were due to meet with Viviana Trochez Dague, a twenty-year-old Colombian indigenous activist, but this sadly never happened as Viviana was murdered on Friday 8th December, just a day after she graduated from the Intercultural University where she studied human rights.
Below is the public statement that was released following the murder of Viviana Trochez Dague.
Social movements in southwest Colombia have announced their grief at the murdered by an unidentified armed group to young indigenous activist Viviana Trochez Dagua on Friday 8th December, just one day after she graduated from a social movement university. The day before her murder, Viviana received her certificate from the Intercultural University of the Peoples at a graduation ceremony in the main plaza in the city of Cali. The event was attended by a delegation of UK organisations UNISON Northern and Show Racism the Red Card. On Monday, members of the delegation attended Viviana’s funeral and paid their respects to the young leader. Below is a statement from the Intercultural University of the Peoples which was read out at the ceremony.
The crime is just the latest murder of a Colombian activist. Human rights groups have reported that this year alone over 120 activists have been murdered in Colombia despite the country’s ongoing peace process, and argue that the political violence forms part of the systematic repression levelled against any sector engaged in defending rights and seeking social change.
On Monday 11th December, Ged, Olivier and Gary all attended the funeral of Viviana to pay their respects to the young leader. Everyone connected with Show Racism the Red Card is deeply saddened by the news of Viviana’s tragic death and we send our deepest condolences to Viviana’s family and friends.
Former Newcastle United FC Goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop, said;
For all the good work that Show Racism The Red Card has done over the years, for as much progress as we’ve witnessed, it is hearbreaking to hear stories of injustice. Reading of Olivier Bernard, Gary Bennett and Ged Grebby’s recent trip to Colombia, a trip they’ve made for the last two years to support Nomadesc, was tear-jerking.
How can someone so young, so full of promise, with her whole life ahead of her. Be murdered for fighting for human rights? How can so many seemingly sweep this under the rug?
To quote Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is a fight, a moment, an opportunity, a calling for all of us to do our parts.