Colombian Mennonite human rights office robbed: An attempt at intimidation?

“Before 3am on Thursday, June 14 unknown assailants broke into the office of a Justapaz, the peace and justice agency of the Mennonite Church in Colombia. Justapaz invited WfP to work in Colombia and today our Colombia program’s office is housed in the Justapaz bulding. Hence this attack on Justapaz deeply affects WfP.The assailants entered the building through the roof, and stole two key computers. One of the computers contained sensitive information on the Justapaz program documenting human rights abuses against Protestant church members-a program coordinated by Janna Hunter-Bowman, a member of Bally (PA) Mennonite Church. The other computer held sensitive information on individuals and churches promoting human rights and furthering peace. The perpetrators deactivated the alarm and proceeded to remove the two computers they had in their sights, without taking other items of value, including nine other computers, cash in a safe and cell phones. The robbery occured while Hunter Bowman was on a study leave in the United States. Hunter Bowman works in collaboration with Mennonite Central Commitee.

Just two weeks earlier, on Saturday, June 2, unknown assailants broke into the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) office/residence between 6 and 7pm , severely damaging the door and lock. Among other things, the assailants took the two main office computers, which contain key organizational information, including information regarding FOR’s accompaniment of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community. In the days prior to the break-in, individuals were seen observing the building.

These two most recent attacks appear to be part of a pattern politically motivated attacks, which in just the past year has included a January 22, 2007 robbery of the key computer from Civil Society’s Permanent Assembly for Peace and the August 7, 2006 robbery from the office of the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement.”
–Witness for Peace

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