Just a few days passed from the signing of the new Peace Agreement in Havana and in Colombia only this week four civil society leaders have been killed, while last week, two members of the FARC were killed by the army.
"For peace and life, political killings must stop and full democratic guarantees must be implemented"
The first of November the dead body of Jhon Jairo Rodriguez Torres was found; he was member of the Community Action Board of El Palo, Caloto (Cauca) and campesino leader of Marcha Patriotica, a social and political movement of national presence that counts with the participation of over 2000 social and political organizations.
According to the Information System on Attacks on Human Rights Defenders 19 activists have been killed and there have been a total of 63 individual attacks, in the period between July and September 2016.
According to a report published by Agencia de Prensa IPC, two women have been murdered on Thursday 13 October in the borough of Buenos Aires, in Caceres, Antioquia.
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó reported that members of the Armed Forces said that they are not going to do anything against the paramilitaries who have been stationed at the “Arenas Bajas” and “Artenas Altas” rural settlements for over 30 days, and that they will also "misrepresent" all complaints that the community makes. The paramilitaries also stated that their objective is to stay in the territory.
Last Friday, as part of the commemoration held for National Human Rights Day, the Community Council of the town of La Esperanza, in Buenaventura, declared its collective property as Territory of Peace, Humanitarian and Environmental, in order to avoid further environmental and social damages caused by groups allied with Los Urabeños.
The Interior Ministry allowed these people to constitute as Community Council to sell land to officials of the municipality of Buenaventura for amounts ranging between $ 300,000 and $ 30 million, and benefit payments on behalf of the construction of the dual carriageway to Cali.
Community leader Marina Inestroza, ensures that among these people they have identified some who in alliance with paramilitary groups have deforested to plant coca and build homes, cabins and restaurants, whose waste are dumped in the ravines. They have also threatened and attacked the legitimate owners of the land, who were eventually forced to move.
Peasant families have the support of the Interchurch Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Network of Communities Building Peace in the Territories and declare the village as Territory of Peace in order to see these attacks against them ending and hoping this could generate decent conditions for those who have been unable to return.
A report from the Justice and Peace Chamber of the Superior Court of Bogotá points at more than 50 companies for alleged collaboration with illegal groups during the armed conflict.
Although Colombia is increasingly closer to the signature of a Final Peace Agreement between the government and the FARC, human rights defenders continue to be targeted by threats and assassinations.
The figures have indeed increased this year compared to the same period of 2015, registering a total of 314 attacks, including 35 murders.
According to the latest report by the NGO Somos Defensores, between January and June 2016, 35 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia and 279 suffered some type of aggression. Of these, 232 were victims of threats, 21 attacks were committed against the lives of human rights defenders, 13 were victims of arbitrary detention, there are 9 cases of judicial processes, 3 were victims of strategic information theft and one defender has been denounced as disappeared in the Catatumbo.
Paramilitary groups are responsible for 68% of the denounced cases, while 22% have been perpetrated by unknown actors. The security forces of the State witnessed a 10% increase in attacks ascribed to the police, the army or the judiciary. Meanwhile, the Aguilar Negras (Black Eagles) paramilitary group, is responsible for 90% of threats against defenders in the last 5 years, and of many threats in the first half of the year.
Is This the End? is the title of a recently published report stating that "At the threshold of signing a peace agreement in Colombia, the rates of murders and attacks against human rights defenders continue to rise in contrast to the rapid decline of violent actions arising from the conflict. What is going on? Is this really the end of the conflict? Would violence against defenders end with the signature of the final agreement? And in addition, if the defenders are instrumental in building peace, how will this government guarantee their protection?"
Find the full report in Spanish here
July 31, 1999: the date is remembered because it marked the official presentation of the paramilitaries of the Calima Bloc of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, better known as the AUC, to the department of Valle del Cauca. In the documentary Memoria y Dignidad Campesina (Memory and Peasant Dignity), peasants of the township La Moralia remember that 31 July.