Activist Stanley Campbell goes to Colombia on peace mission

Activist Stanley Campbell goes to Colombia on peace mission


A massacred village in Colombia will be visited by Rockford Urban Ministries’ Director Stanley Campbell. Mr. Campbell was invited to join a peace delegation that will release a report implicating Colombian military use of American weapons in killing 19 civilians on December 13, 1998.

The delegation, made up of 12 U.S. peace groups, left Chicago on Sunday, December 10, and, after a press conference in Bogota, will arrive in the village of Santo Domingo on December 13, two years after 19 villagers were killed, including seven children.

Initially, the Colombian government stated that “the rebel group known as FARC were responsible.” But after evidence was presented at a Chicago Tribunal, it was shown that the Colombian military, using American-made missiles, had fired on the villagers. The delegation will visit Santo Domingo on December 13 and release the Tribunal’s report.

The Tribunal was held at the end of September under the sponsorship of the International Human Rights Department of Northwestern Law School and the Chicago Campaign for Justice in Colombia. Eight witnesses from Colombia testified, four of whom were victims in the incident. A panel of 11 judges heard the case, including retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour Simon, who presided. The case of Santo Domingo was chosen because bombs used in the massacre were made in the United States, and the battalion that launched them received U.S. aid in the form of helicopters.

“This would be a violation of Colombia’s use of American aid to fight the drug war,” said Stanley Campbell, who represents Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a national veterans group that works for veterans’ rights and against Vietnam-like conflicts. “We hope to end the use of American aid for these military blunders.”

Campbell also stated that he was “honored to represent all veterans who know, and are opposed to, the destructive nature of war, especially when directed against civilians.”

Though representing Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Campbell has had to raise his own funds and appreciates any support that he can get. “Some folks have said that they would pay for a one-way ticket, but I hope to come home right after we release the report,” said Campbell. He expects to return December 18, in time for the 7:30 p.m. Coffee Talk at the Irish Rose, where he will celebrate his return and answer any questions.

The delegation will spend two days in Bogota and one day in the eastern state of Arauca. They will be hosted by the Franciscan Missionaries.

Colombia is the northernmost country in South America and borders Panama (in fact, Panama used to belong to Colombia). Recently, Colombia received just over one billion dollars in U.S. military aid, which was earmarked for the drug war and not to be used against the civilian population. The Conservative government of Colombia has recently signed a peace accord with the FARC, a revolutionary group sometimes associated with illicit drug farmers.

The Tribunal’s report can be received by contacting the Tribunal’s attorney, Douglass Cassell, at Northwestern Illinois Law School at (312) 503-8953.

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