The Bishops of Colombia feel “immense pain and concern in receiving, every day during this 2020, news of assassinations of leaders and threats to communities”, and express “solidarity with the survivors, family members and friends of those who lost their lives in this wave of violence and senseless death”, says the statement of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia after the murder of another social leader. The statement was reported by Fides News Agency. 17 days have passed since the beginning of 2020 and there are also 17 human rights defenders killed because of leaders or representatives of some rural community.
“We insist on the need to implement a national public policy to deal with this threat, which includes protection initiatives, timely responses to alarms and effective presence of state institutions in the most vulnerable communities,” write the Bishops, addressing the new municipal and regional administrators recently elected, urging them to put the protection of communities and social leaders into their administrative programs.
The Bishops’ request starts from respect for the life of each person, “which is sacred”, and the murders and violent actions “against our brothers and sisters” end up “threatening democracy” and the institutions of the Country.
According to the Bishops’ Conference, 17 deaths have been recorded in less than 17 days since the beginning of 2020, while the NGO Instituto de Estudios Sobre Paz y Desarrollo (INDEPAZ) reports 21. But this type of violence comes from afar and the political movement of the Patriotic March claims that the actual numbers of the murdered leaders exceed 700 units, in addition to the 140 former FARC fighters who were killed after the signing of the peace agreement. The final count in 2019 was 250 murdered only for social leaders, including 23 in December 2019. The solution to this type of violence, again according to INDEPAZ, is the promotion of the economic and social development of these territories. The Catholic Church, which has been following and denouncing this dramatic situation for some time, has made proposals for the development and respect for human rights in the region
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