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Colombians want to end immunity as activists continue to be killed | Conflict News

Bogotá, Colombia – Dora Munoz’s life changed irreparably on March 14th.

That night she received news that no one wanted to hear: her husband, Miller Correa, was found dead. His bodies were found scattered along the road near the small rural community of Las Chozas, on the outskirts of the city of Popayan in southeastern Colombia.

Correa is a prominent social leader, indigenous people’s advocate, and Kauka’s Turbulence DivisionIt has seen a recent increase in violence between armed groups fighting for control of territory, resources, and major drug routes.

Due to his position as a social leader and his political activities, the state has appointed Correa with personal security details.

However, according to his wife and local media, that night in March, a 40-year-old man attended a meeting without a conservation team and was attacked by armed men after leaving. Two days later, armed group Aguilas Negras – Or Black Eagles – acknowledged the murder.

“It was very, very difficult for me,” Munos told Al Jazeera in a recent interview. “It is something that you can never fully understand, even if you live through it. It is incomprehensible, you cannot find a good reason for such an act.”

Correa’s family is not alone, as marked by in the last few years Rapid increase in murder So far in 2022, at least 101 people have died, according to the Institute for Development and Peace (Indepaz), a social leader in Colombia.

“Social leaders Stand up for their communitySo they were in a very difficult situation because of their leadership, “Sergio Guzman, political analyst and director of the Colombian risk analysis consultant group, told Al Jazeera.

“They are being targeted by illegal organizations [in order] To claim their full control, instill fear in the population and conquer them. “

Stand up with violence

Indepaz states that 1,328 social leaders (a term used to describe political activists, community representatives, and advocates) were subsequently killed. 2016 A peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and a rebel group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Last year alone, Indepas recorded the killings of 171 social leaders, and the Colombian ombudsman office recorded the killings of 145.

According to experts, violence is associated with a variety of factors, including armed groups fighting for control, the power vacuum created by the failure to implement the peace agreement, and the almost complete absence of the state in some parts of the country. It is about.

Much control of the rural areas of Colombia is still contested primarily by several armed groups. Gulf Clan Cartel, National Liberation Army (ELN) and Opponents of FARC Those who refuse the peace agreement and continue to engage in armed conflict.

“The majority of social leaders were killed by various types of armed groups,” said Juan Papier, a senior American researcher at Human Rights Watch. “In some parts [of the country]It has to do with the fighting and blame between different groups that social leaders are working for the opposition, “Papier told Al Jazeera.

“Other parts of Colombia support plans to replace cocaine crops with food, or because they could harm the illegal economy of the same group, or to recover stolen land. Because it is, it has been killed. Armed conflict.. “

In Kauka, where Correa was killed in March, much of the violence occurs in response to systematic resistance. Mounted by a local indigenous group To protect their territory.

The indigenous movement was “clear in its rejection and blame [of armed groups]The demand for peace, and the control of the territory we believe in, is ours, “Mauricio Kapas, leader of the Nasa Indigenous Peoples and a member of the Kauka Regional Indigenous Council, told Al Jazeera.

“Correspondingly, we encountered a high level of violence.”

“The end of impunity”

Both Pappier and Guzman say the Colombian government is rarely present in many rural areas such as the Cauca Department and does little to combat violence, despite the need for action and accountability. rice field.

This year, the Colombian government has allocated over $ 1 million to the National Protection Unit (UNP), a branch of the Interior Ministry responsible for protecting endangered people. The unit was founded in 2011 and currently protects 3,749 social leaders nationwide, according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

next Recent releases of final report Regarding armed conflict, the Colombian Truth Commission urged the government to provide more protection to political activists and address the issue of national violence and negligence.

“It’s mainly a problem that the authorities don’t understand the situation,” Papier said. “The government believes that the way to deal with this is to increase and allow the national protection unit’s budget. Human rights defenders Bulletproof vest and bodyguard.

“But Colombia’s security problems cannot be solved with bulletproof vests.”

Indigenous rights advocate Miller Correa, 40, was found dead in March [Courtesy Dora Munoz]

For the next government Gustavo Petro in the left-wing presidential electionSuch violence, scheduled to take office next month, will be a significant and perhaps recurring challenge, experts said.

Petro Open negotiations with ELN – Not armed following the 2016 peace agreement – ​​to curb violence and work towards more efficient trading.

His office did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

Petro recently said that “the time of peace has come” and promised to establish contact with “all existing armed groups” in the country. “What I demand is a bilateral ceasefire,” he said, adding that his administration would work to “end the war in Colombia.”

But Guzman wondered if something really changed.

“The factors that drive violence against social leaders will continue. Drug trafficking will continue to be a tremendously lucrative business, and the state’s massive absence will continue. Judicial system It’s late, “he said. “Whatever Peter’s political will is, the reality is that it is very unlikely that he will be able to stand up to it violently.”

Meanwhile, Munos said he wanted some closure and justice for her husband. “It’s a way to relieve so much pain that there is an urgent need to put an end to impunity and do justice,” she told Al Jazeera.

“It’s not going to revive the dead, but it will help us deal with these difficult situations.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/16/colombians-call-for-end-to-impunity-as-activist-killings-continue Colombians want to end immunity as activists continue to be killed | Conflict News

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