More than five hundred victims and human rights organizations, represented by different platforms, issued a statement to the delegations negotiating the agreements, reaffirming their support for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace agreed in Havana as a contribution to the fight against impunity.
They emphasize that their right to the truth is not negotiable and that victims represent the section of society with more rights to decide how sentences ought to be paid.
María Mosquera, member of CONPAZ, said that “we have experienced many years of impunity in which the ordinary justice system does not allow to know the true facts (…) sentences do not help to correct what happened, as they are small sentences and give differential treatment privileges to the guilty”.
Mosquera notes that “prisons are not the solution, we need new mechanisms so that there is justice (…) we identify with Point 5 of the Havana Agreement which should be respected and strengthened”.
Alberto Yepes, lawyer of the US-Colombia-Europe States Coordination, said that the Special Court for Peace “goes beyond the ordinary courts, which collapsed because of high levels of impunity, and is a biased justice concentrated on the trial of only one of the actors”.
Among the organizations that signed the statement are: Coordination Colombia – Europe, United States (CCEEU), National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), Ecumenical Committee for Peace Building Peace Communities in the Territories (CONPAZ), Interchurch Dialogue for Peace ( DiPaz), Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development and the Coalition of Social Movements and Organizations of Colombia (COMOSOC).
Colombia shall never repeat its tragic history of extermination
Victims of the political genocide against the Unión Patriótica – UP (Patriotic Union) and various political and social sectors of Colombia, recall the horrific years in which members of this political party were systematically threatened and killed by paramilitary groups with State complicity back in the 80s. Around 5000 lives were lost in those tragic years.
From the 20th to the 22nd of October, the XI Commemorative Meeting of the National Day for the Dignity of the UP Victims is held. From different parts of the country, survivors and relatives gather in the city of Bogotá and mobilize to remind the country that this type of actions should never be repeated.
This time, in the light of the Peace Agreement juncture, the mobilization joined those who are requesting a prompt solution to the Final Agreement implementation impasse with the slogans “Agreement Now” “Implementation Now”. Also, a “garden of memory” was set in the Plaza de Bolivar, where the Congress, Justice Palace and Town Hall are located.
This is a special year to recall the political genocide since it was precisely in a Peace Process held between the FARC-EP and the Betancur administration (La Uribe 1982-2986) when the UP was created as a result of the Peace Process and was the platform for transition of the guerrilla forces into an open political movement.
The political persecution dynamics and the violation of human and civil rights have not stopped during these years, the cases registered and denounced by diverse Human Rights organizations show this, but it was with the UP when the situation was most evident and even the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos in a ceremonial act with the UP survivors and relatives on September 15 this year, recognized the State´s role in the genocide.
In essence, the framework of political exclusion through paramilitary action, violation of human rights, the arbitrary use of the legal system to generate hoax cases and imprison social and political leaders, the intentional and premeditated use of mass media and political discourse to generate an “internal enemy” narrative and legitimize these violations, is something that the Havana Final Agreement aims to transform.
Jorge Gómez, an attorney who leads the initiative of the commemorative event expressed that “A part of what was signed in Havana [Final Agreement] is precisely to give guarantees to the political opposition and hopefully ensure that what happened to the UP won’t happen again. We hope that this agreement -which will guarantee the exercise of the opposition- is complied with; that’s one of the things we want to emphasize at this moment of the peace process”
An unsuccessful ending of the Havana Peace Process would mean the prolongation of these dynamics and would hold back long-needed reforms for the country. The road towards Peace in Colombia is long and requires not only legal and institutional changes but essentially cultural and social transformations to be the base for national reconciliation and the construction of peace.
Never again as Colombians should we turn our backs and pretend to ignore these type of tragedies, should we value some lives over other lives, should we by action or inaction legitimize the extermination of our compatriots right or left winged, LGBTI, rural or urban, black, white or indigenous, men or women. This is why Peace requires massive participation and now more than ever, Colombia needs to not let go of the possibility of opening the doors to the construction of a stable and lasting peace.