Socorro Gomes: We repudiate the persistence of paramilitarism in Colombia and demand justice

Monday, October 23, 2017

With consternation and revolt, we denounce in the strongest terms the murders of at least six ex-combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC-EP), reported on October 20 by René Hertz, a spokesman for the Veredal Zone of Transitional Normalization of La Paloma.

The ex-combatants were found tied up and killed in the municipality of Charco. Their murders add to the constant denunciations of ex-combatants and members of the new political party FARC (Fuerza Alternativa Revolucionaria del Común) on the continuity of violence. The transition to the struggle for social justice and transformation within the legal framework demonstrated commitment to peace and with building a better society for all.

However, the deaths of José Miller Estupiñán Toloza, Carlos Sinisterra, Edinson Martínez Ordoñez, Duber Alberto Obando Vallecilla, José Alfredo García Estupiñán and Johan (whose full name is not yet known) and any other Colombian can not pass in silence. Violence and impunity can derail a long diplomatic process that made it possible to glimpse peace after five decades of armed conflict, and that countless political parties, popular movements, trade unions, international organizations and peace organizations such as the World Peace Council have welcomed with hope.

The paramilitary groups continue to act in the region against all the commitments made by the Colombian government with the promotion of a security scenario for the peace process and the dismantling of these gangs. We reiterate, in the strongest terms, that the persistence of paramilitarism is unacceptable.

In addition to the victims mentioned, two members of the Awá indigenous people (Alirio Zabala and Geovany Zabala), the community leader José Jair Cortés from Tumaco, Liliana Astrid Ramírez, a teacher and union leader from Tolima, the human rights defender of Medellín Liliana Patricia Castaño and, José María Eliecer Carvajal, of Putumayo, were also killed.

Colombian movements denounce that in less than a month 19 social leaders were killed by paramilitaries and seven peasants were killed by the Police in Tumaco, keeping the environment of violence, threats and persecutions in force during the last decades.

Those in solidarity with the Colombian people express their heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and their strong support in the demand for change so that a just, sustainable and lasting peace can be built in Colombia and in Latin America. To this end, it is urgent to dismantle paramilitary gangs as one of the main causes of the persistence of violence. We urge the Colombian authorities to recognize these cases, to punish the guilty and to act with urgency to prevent their recurrence.

The World Peace Council has often reiterated our belief in the possibility of peace for the entire region as long as everyone takes on their commitments to its construction, for real and effective transformation.

Socorro Gomes
President of the World Peace Council
22nd of October, 2017