Charlotte off to Colombia as a Human Rights Accompanier

A Winchester woman is leaving for Colombia on Tuesday 1st November to work with the US branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Charlotte Melly, of Teg Down, will be working in the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, a small town in the northwest of Colombia, near the gulf of Urabá.

Speaking before leaving, Charlotte told local MP Steve Brine: "The basic principle of human rights accompaniment is that a physical international presence in certain areas where human rights defenders work decreases the risk they face, enables them to continue with their work, and encourages activists to organise and to take risks they would not otherwise take.

"International volunteers work directly in areas of conflict and provide protective accompaniment to human rights defenders threatened by political violence. We aim to protect the local people who work in pursuit of justice for the victims and survivors of violence, displacement and repression.

"The work is based on non-interference in the internal affairs of the non-violent Peace Community we accompany. Our role is to carve out political space and provide moral support for local activists to carry out their work without fear of repression. Volunteers also act as a compelling reminder to those using violence that it will not go unnoticed internationally.

"As such, my international citizenship is an important part of this work, since volunteers act as a reminder to those using violence that it will not go unnoticed internationally. The premise that there will be an international response to whatever violence we witness depends on us having people we can communicate the situation to."

Charlotte will be writing a blog from Colombia, and hopes to inform as many people back home as possible as to what the situation is.

Steve said: "Charlotte first told me about this some weeks ago, and at the time I was excited that one of my constituents was going to be doing such challenging work in South America.

"Her leaving has come up really quickly, and I wish her all the very best on what will, I hope, be an unforgettable and deeply rewarding trip. I am delighted to support her with this venture, and would encourage the good people of Winchester & Chandler's Ford to follow her progress via the blog she has set up."

Pictured; Charlotte Melly will be working in Colombia, in north-western South America

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Follow Charlotte's work in Colombia via http://charlottemelly.blogspot.com.