Victims want Colombia to strip military war criminals of medals

Former President Alvaro Uribe and the former commander of the National Army, retired General Mario Montoya. (Image: President's Office)

The families of civilians who were executed by Colombia’s security forces to inflate results want the commanders responsible of these atrocities to be stripped of their medals, they said Tuesday.

The representative of the Association of Mothers of False Positives (Mafapo), Jacqueline Castillo, said that victims of her organization want the security forces to revoke decorations of war criminals as a means of compensation.

Castillo expressed the victims’ wish during the presentation of a report to the war crimes tribunal and the truth commission on the victimization of family members of more than 6,400 civilians who were executed and falsely presented as combat kills.

Colombia’s military executed more than 6,400 civilians in 6 years: court

The victims’ representative said some women sold their homes in order to have the funds that would allow them to find their missing sons.

Others are still waiting on planned exhumations of military mass graves in the hope they will be able to give their executed children a Christian burial.

Honoring the victims

(Image: Mafapo)

Other members of Mafapo traveled to Congress where oppositions Senator Antonio Sanguino (Green Alliance), Ivan Cepeda (Democratic Pole) and House Representative Angela Maria Robledo sponsored a bill that seeks to honor the victims of the military atrocities.

The bill was provisionally called “#6402” to honor the victims who have been accounted for to date.

The unfolding of one of Colombia’s worst atrocities

Mafapo was founded by women from Bogota and the neighboring city of Soacha in 2008 after news broke that their sons had been executed and presented as guerrillas killed in combat by the National Army.

The scandal triggered the mass resignations of military commanders and the gradual revelation of one of the worst atrocities committed during the armed conflict.

The National Army’s so-called “false positives” are one of the main investigations of the JEP, which is also investigating other mass crimes like the kidnapping practices of demobilized guerrilla group FARC.

The JEP presented a preliminary report last month and announced it would prioritize the investigation of extrajudicial executions that were carried out since 2002 when former President Alvaro Uribe took office.

The preliminary was welcomed by the victims, but fiercely opposed by Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez who was Uribe’s first defense minister.

Extrajudicial executions

According to Castillo, the report triggered more alleged victims from different parts of Colombia to report possible extrajudicial executions previously unknown to Mafapo.

The victims’ representative told the court officials and the commission members she believed that further investigation will likely further increase the number of victims of extrajudicial executions.

These investigations are complicated by the military, which has allegedly been tampering witnesses to prevent the legal consequences of the atrocities reaching the top of the command.

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