April 2017 Report: Colombia

Current Situation

According to Somos Defensores’ annual report (2016) “Information system about aggressions against human rights defenders in Colombia”, the most worrisome situation has to do with the increasing number of social leaders’ murders. Aggressions reduced of 29% from 2015 to 2016. Notwithstanding, last year were reported 80 cases of murders and 49 cases of harassment of such leaders. In 2017 the situation is not different. According to the platform ¡Pacifista!, the toll of social leaders’ murders is more than 20 cases. Moreover, if we count from the agreement signature it raises at 31. On the 16th of March, The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, Todd Howland presented the annual report emphasizing the state of warning for the increasing number of attacks against social activists. Mr Howland called on the government to recognise that the deaths formed a pattern and to provide protection to those in danger. Another warning comes from Amnesty International that in its report presented on the 21st of April talks about a worrisome situation related to the wave of homicides of indigenous in areas historically exposed to armed conflict. Clearly it seems that until now the implementation of the agreement has been inefficient regarding the protection of social leaders after FARC left their areas. The government does not recognizes the presence of new paramilitaries and their actions. The Defence minister says that the authorities do not find any relation between social leaders’ and human rights activists’ murders. At the same time the Interior minister maintains that “the State has many challenges to face in terms of territorial control and institutional presence” in the areas left by the FARC. And indeed where there is such an institutional vacuum, combined with poverty and unemployment, is going to spring a wave of violence perpetrated by the new paramilitaries tied to drug trafficking, big land owners, and international corporations interested at mines. In such a scenario of violence, everyone who opposes and denounce the worrisome situation are a goal for the new paramilitary groups.

Sharing, Work and news about Volunteers

During the month of April, Operazione Colomba volunteers accompanied for about 15 days the Inter-Ecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace in the area of Meta. For this reason the presence of the volunteers in the Peace Community were limited. Peace Community members focused on the Easter celebration. It is a very important event, especially in the moment of the Via Crucis. This year it took place between the villages of La Union and Arenas Altas, where for each station people commemorated a murder or a violation suffered in the last twenty years. The community members couldn’t reunite all together, because in the villages of Resbalosa and Mulatos there were many paramilitaries of the AGC. Such a circumstance forced the peasants to be alert and caused them an unpleasant meeting with an illegal armed group during the Via Crucis. The Peace Community keeps on denouncing the hard reality of the Country, challenging the power that tries to silence everyone who wants to rebel.