The Musicians’ Union in Britain, which has around 30,000 members employed in the music industry, has sent the following letter to the Colombian ambassador to Britain to express concern over the ongoing killings of social leaders and human rights defenders in the country. At least two musician, Gilberto Valencia and Victor Manuel Trujillo Trujillo, are among the victims in early 2019.
HE Mr Nestor Osorio Londoño
Embassy of Colombia
3 Hans Crescen
28 January 2019
I am writing to you on behalf of the Musicians’ Union (MU) to express our concern at ongoing violence against social leaders on the Colombian peace process, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that ‘163 murders of social leaders and human rights defenders have been verified and a total of 454 cases have been reported’ since the peace agreement was signed in November.
We have also seen that, following the recent deaths of three more people – Maritza Ramirez in Nariño, Samuel Gallo in Antioquia and José Jair Orozco Calvo in Valle del Cauca – Colombia media reports that 19 such murders have already taken place in 2019.
Among those to have been killed this year are at least two musicians. The first victim of 2019 was Gilberto Valencia, a member of the group Los Herederos who organised youth workshops focused on peace-building in communities. He was murdered in Suarez, Cauca, on New Year’s Day.
On 15 January, Victor Manuel Trujillo Trujillo was murdered in Puerto Guamo in Bolívar. Victor was well-known as the hip hop artist Victtote, whose songs addressed the peace process and social justice issues. He had previously spent time in exile due to paramilitary death threats. Music and other creative art-forms can play an important role in peace-building by promoting messages of reconciliation and opposition to violence. However, violence against social leaders Colombia threatens the future of the peace process. We are deeply concerned that failure to address the human rights crisis will lead to renewed instability and violence for Colombia.
We urge the Colombian government to enact urgent security measures for social leaders and human rights defenders. We also hope that the government will ensure every effort is made to fully implement the agreement.
Finally, we offer our full solidarity to the musicians and all those in Colombia who risk their own safety in the pursuit of a stable and lasting peace with social justice.
British Musicians’ Union