COLOMBIA: NOT ONE STEP BACK, ONWARD TOWARD PEACE! – Pronouncement –

Bogotá, Colombia, January 18, 2019 – The International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race & Equality) emphatically rejects and condemns the acts of violence that have plunged Colombians into mourning during the first 15 days of the year.  We condemn all types of violence that threaten the intention of the Colombian people to advance in the joint construction of a stable and lasting peace throughout the territory.

The assassination of the 10 social leaders that increases the shocking number of deaths of human rights defenders following the signing of the Peace Accords in September 2016 and the recent terrorist attack on the Escuela General Santander [General Santander School] in the city of Bogotá have to date left a total of 21 dead and 68 injured, according to what has been reported by national media outlets, are evidence of the looming need for the Colombian government and society in general to continue working on behalf of the peace process.

Despite the environment of uncertainty generated by the incidents that have occurred in the country in the midst of a growing awakening of the social mobilization rejecting the arbitrary governmental policies, among other things, and in favor of access to education, the financing law, and everything related to land access, tenure, and use, as well as a general repudiation of the assassination of more than 365 leaders who were assassinated in 2016 and 2018 (which still does not appear to have produced a sufficient response in the form of urgent and immediate measures the national government should put in place to guarantee the lives of its people), we encourage Colombians to continue to pursue with determination the search for and construction of peace, employing dialogue as the only path in all social spheres in order to process the conflicts that threaten the legitimate right to enjoy a decent life.

As an organization that is committed to defending and promoting human rights, we urgently call on the Colombian government, all of its institutions, dissident groups of the former guerrilla group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] (FARC EP), and the allied armed group Ejército de Liberación Nacional [National Liberation Army] (ELN), so that, with an awareness of the profound responsibility to construct a society in peace, they will commit themselves to the need to make progress through peaceful dialogue in the face of a war that has lasted more than 50 years and left an abhorrent number of victims who deserve the emphatic commitment of their leaders, social organizations, and society in general as an alternative for negotiating differences and constructing a society defined by social justice.

We urge the international community to continue monitoring and accompanying the Colombian State in the process of constructing peace through truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of no repetition.

 

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