For 20 years the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ have been in partnership with Colombian churches. This petition arises from our concern for Jorge Luis Montes Hernandez who has been unjustly imprisoned for nearly four years. We call for the release of Jorge, and for continued work toward peace and recovery of churches and communities in Colombia.
This petition will be delivered to Colombian and U.S. Officials, including:
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Ambassador Kevin Whitaker; and Colombian officials responsible for human rights and the peace process.
- JORGE LUIS MONTES HERNÁNDEZ is a farmer from the High Mountain of El Carmen de Bolívar. He was the Coordinator of the Peaceful March of the High Mountain of Montes de María which took place in April 2013. He currently is detained and has been since September 9, 2013, as reprisal for his role as community leader in the region.
- The peaceful march in April 2013 sought conditions for a dignified life, full reparation for victims of the armed conflict, and support for the restoration of avocado production, the major crop of the region. An appeal was made to the National, Departmental, and Municipal Governments, for improved education, roads, healthcare, and agricultural projects.
- Jorge Montes was convicted without proof in March 2017 of membership in a group promoting armed rebellion (FARC) in 2000.
- The sentence was only supported by the questionable testimonies of reintegrated combatants from illegal groups, which were received by the now disbanded Administrative Department for Security (DAS) in 2007.
- UCC-DOC Global Ministries and the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries support our church and community partners in Colombia, in appealing this sentence. This case damages the efforts of Colombians to build a stable and lasting territorial peace, where citizen participation, political advocacy by communities, and collective action for social transformation are vital and encouraged.
- We ask that the new Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) clarify the events that have been unjustly attributed to him, that the truth be known, that his right to a good name be restored, and that Jorge Montes be released. We ask that the courts release this community leader, to help restore community and to strengthen civil society in the High Mountain region.
- We ask that the US State Department; including Secretary Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to Colombia Kevin Whitaker, appeal to Colombian officials for the release of Jorge Montes.