From the TUC

Colombia’s bloody peace process

22 Apr 2016, By

It is a bitter irony that given Colombia is engaged in a peace process the number of politically motivated killings has increased of late

In the period 21 February 2016 to 18 March 2016 a total of 30 people were killed. Of these 30 ,14 were community and political activists. The other 16 assassinated in the context of “social cleansing” operations by paramilitary groups. Examples of so called social cleansing includes driving people of land or plain political assassination of political enemies. Many of these actions are taking place now whilst there is the cover of the civil war; such actions hardly create an environment in which the peace process can move forward.

Amongst those under threat are trade union activists as shown by the assassinations of Maricela Tombé, former president of the Rural Ecological Association of Playa Rica (ASCAP) and Gil de Jesús Silgado, member of the Agricultural Association of Arauca; both of whom were affiliated to the agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO. Such murders are often accompanied by intimidation, for example,the death threat and the butchered head of a dog sent to office of the health workers’ union ANTHOC.

In the context of the possible signing of a peace treaty between the Colombian government and the FARC, the lack of guarantees for social and political activists in Colombia is deeply alarming. This rise in violence at a crucial moment in the peace talks has been condemned by both international and Colombian organisations. The Colombian government needs to do more to investigate these assassinations and to protect and provide guarantees for social and political activists in the country as well as ordinary citizens from the threat of paramilitary violence in their communities. For these very reasons, Amnesty International is conducting a campaign to pressure the Colombian government to act to protect individuals and the very peace process itself. The TUC fully supports this campaign.