They Don’t Believe Us: Human Rights Abuses in Colombia


As the National Days of Action for Peace in Colombia begin this week, I wanted to share the original poem "They Don't Believe Us" that Colombian human rights defender, Orlando Bolaños, read aloud to me when I visited him on a human rights verification mission in December. 

Orlando is a campesino who was displaced from Argelia, Cauca. Argelia is still a place where human rights abuses, including murder and sexual violence, are rampant.   Paramilitaries are seen patrolling in the hundreds, despite the presence of the Colombian army in Argelia.

Here is Orlando’s poem (read the original Spanish text "No Nos Creen" here):

They Don’t Believe Us

Yesterday we said that they are murdering us, cutting us into pieces, disappearing us, displacing us,
torturing us, mistreating us. And they don’t believe us.
That we are victims of the state.  And they don’t believe us.
That the army, police and paramilitaries are the same.  And they don’t believe us.
That many children are sobbing, for their parents are disappeared.  And they don’t believe us.
We tell the world that in Colombia there is a declared war against campesinos.
And they don’t believe us.
That in Colombia people die when they are fifteen years old, or twenty, or thirty, when they could die at 100. And they don’t believe us.
That my people dream, suffer and weep.  And they don’t believe us.
That the blackbirds no longer sing, that the sparrows are sad and the trees have lost their leaves.
And they don’t believe us.
That the lullaby for our children is the rattle of gunfire. And they don’t believe us.
That they fumigate the fields which we tend so they disappear. And they don’t believe us.
That they discriminate against us in the cities because we are displaced. And they don’t believe us.
That they judge us, condemn us, as if we were criminals. And they don’t believe us.
What happens?  Don’t they see?  Why is it that they don’t believe us? Friends… do you believe us?


We believe you, Orlando.

To raise awareness about human rights in Colombia and support defenders like Orlando, click here to find out how you can get involved in our National Days of Action for Peace in Colombia.

 
 

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