Colombia: Social Movements Protest Ongoing Assassinations of their Leaders

“We will not remain in silence!”

The dramatic increase of assassinations of social and political community leaders in Colombia on part of paramilitary death squads is gathering more and more concern among various social and political organizations and movements that work for peace and are direct victims of this situation that has been recognized by multiple human rights reports including the United Nations office of the high commissioner in Colombia.

The following is a communiqué released by distinguished social and political organizations and movements, translated by FARC-EP:

In 2017, 14 social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed: 1 was a woman and 3 were members of Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica). Most have been killed by paramilitaries of the Self-proclaimed Gaitanista Self-Defense Groups of Colombia in areas of strong Colombian State military and Police presence in the departments of Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Antioquia, Córdoba, Chocó and Cesar.

In 2016, 116 human rights defenders were murdered (19 women and 23 members of Patriotic March) – 5 were forcibly disappeared, 46 attacks were carried out with long-range and short-range firearms and / or explosive devices and more of 350 individual or collective threats have been recorded.

This situation reflects the uncontrollable systematicity of the attacks on social leaders and human rights defenders. If there is no pattern in these events, as the State claims by explaining it as mere “multi-causality”, why do they assassinate, disappear, attack and threaten those who lead community processes related in one way or another to the peace process?

This systematicity in the attacks evidences the vulnerability of the social leadership and the communities immersed in organizational processes related to the aspiration to build peace in Colombia. Likewise, it proves the existence and action of paramilitary groups in the national territory.

Given this situation, we ask the Colombian State to:

  • The immediate explanation by the “High Level Commission of Guarantees of Non Repetition” of the results of its actions against the systematicity of the attacks against social leaders and human right defenders
  • The urgent implementation of the “National Security Commission for the dismantling of criminal organizations and conducts responsible for homicides and massacres that attack human rights defenders, social movements or that threaten or attempt against those who participate in the implementation of the agreements and the construction of peace, including criminal organizations that have been designated as successors of paramilitaries and their support networks”, a commitment stated and signed in the Peace Agreement
  • The temporary appointment of the director of the “Special Investigation Unit for the dismantling of criminal organizations and conducts responsible for homicides and massacres that attack human rights defenders, social movements or that threaten or attempt against those who participate in the implementation of the agreements and the construction of peace, including criminal organizations that have been designated as successors of paramilitaries and their support networks” as stated in paragraph 74 of the Peace Agreement on Special Jurisdiction for Peace, while the respective legal process is being carried out
  • The early adoption of a participatory action plan for the regions that have been most affected by these systematic attacks

We urge Colombian society to not remain in silence regarding this genocide.

Signed by:

Mesa Nacional de Garantías para Defensores de Derechos Humanos (National Board of Guarantees for Human Rights Defenders)

Sub Comisión de Garantías y Derechos Humanos de Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Étnica y Popular (Human Rights and Guarantees Sub Commission of the Agrarian, Peasant, Ethnic and Popular Summit)

Congreso de los Pueblos (Congress of the Peoples)

Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos (National Network of Human Rights Defenders)

FENSUAGRO – CUT

Movimiento Político y Social Marcha Patriótica (Social and political movement Patriotic March)

FARC-EP

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