Colombia: Dialogues for Non-Repetition begin

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In Colombia, the Truth Commission created an initiative to talk about murdered social leaders and raise awareness among the public

Colombia: Dialogues for Non-Repetition begin

The Dialogues for Non-Repetition are an initiative for citizens, the international community, institutions and social leaders to meet in participation spaces, where they can see the problems that human rights activists have in different regions of the country, especially those that are still affected by the armed conflict.

Leer en español: Colombia: inicia el Diálogo para la no Repetición

On Tuesday, June 11 the first event took place as a discussion in the framework of these dialogues. There were four questions that guided the conversation:

1. Why have they assassinated social leaders for three decades in the country?

2. What should the State do differently so that these events do not happen again?

3. What should we do as a society to overcome this situation?

4. What is the impact on democracy, participation and development of communities when they kill or threaten their leaders?

The dialogue was carried out by 12 people, who were representing different sectors such as business, government, leaders and different organizations.

Francisco de Roux, president of the Commission, said that the issue of social leaders is relevant to begin the initiative of the dialogues, as there are more than 4000 leaders who have died defending different causes in the country. " How is it possible that such a large number of people have died and can you imagine what Colombia would be like if a man like Luis Carlos Galán, to give an example, or like Alma Roja Jaramillo in Magdalena Medio, were alive?", De Roux asks when starting the event.

The Truth Commission is an extrajudicial body that was created in the Peace Agreement document which, as its name suggests, seeks the truth of what happened during the years of conflict with the FARC. During the years of its existence, through testimonies of all the actors of the conflict (former combatants, soldiers, organizations, etc.), they will seek to know what actually happened behind what has been said up to now. To do this, they will be making a document that will be delivered in 2021, just under 900 days, according to the counter they have on their page.

Read also: Refuge for life: social leaders demand guarantees

Meanwhile, this event seeks to awaken the thirst to know the truth and clarify the facts to understand our society. According to de Roux, it does not matter what are the political overtones, nor discussing issues of legal scope, nor seeing what was included or was left out of the National Development Plan, but understanding how from each sector of the country we can help to prevent social leaders from being killed.

A symbolic act

Prior to this discussion, an artistic exhibition was held in the Plaza de Bolívar with which the project began. There, the artist Doris Salcedo did a work called Quebrantos (Breakings). According to the statement of the Truth Commission, "it is a symbolic and memory act in which 162 names of leaders and social leaders killed since the signing of the Final Peace Agreement will be written in broken glass". In this, social leaders who are currently being threatened participated.

"The idea is that glass, like life, is fragile, and once it breaks it can not be patched, you can not restore it (...) it is a mourning action that seeks to reflect on these losses that are occurring. It is worthwhile that we all reflect on what is happening, because mourning has generally been restricted to the private sphere, and I think that since these murders are taking place in the light of day, in public space, we must bear the duel also to the public space", affirmed Doris Salcedo in the press conference.

It is not the first time that the artist takes the Plaza de Bolívar as a stage to conceptualize a work, nor is it the first time that her actions are aimed at reconciliation, awareness or some other aspect in the context of the Colombian conflict and post-conflict. In 2016, after the results of the plebiscite, in which the 'No' to the Peace Accords won, Salcedo covered the Plaza de Bolívar with a white blanket with names of victims of the conflict written in it, in a work called Añadiendo Ausencias (Adding Absences).

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suarez

Translated from "Colombia: inicia el Diálogo para la no Repetición"

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