The classmates of a 5-year-old killed during a FARC raid said goodbye to their friend as he was laid to rest in the municipality of Siberia, in the south-west Colombian department of Cauca on Thursday.
All 650 students from Juan Pablo Chicangana’s school formed the guard of honor, carrying white flags, on which each had written a message of peace.
Many of Siberia’s 2,000 residents could not hold back tears when the tiny coffin appeared, to the strains of a well-known song by singer Jose Luis Perales. The voice of Jesus Paladines, the vice chancellor at Juan Pablo’s school, broke more than once as he performed the song in tribute to the young Colombian.
“His life was cut unjustly short. The guerrilla have caused our family a lot of pain,” said Harold Patiño, Juan Pablo’s uncle.
“We are going to miss him. We don’t want any more violence,” said one of Juan Pablo’s classmates.
“We are shocked. What we ask for is peace. Children can not be victims of heinous crimes against humanity, they should be the population most protected by international human rights,” said Paladines.
Juan Pablo’s mother, Luz Marina Patiño Campo, did not attend his funeral as she remains unconscious, in a serious but stable condition in hospital. She was admitted with numerous pieces of shrapnel embedded in her skull, the result of the same hand-made FARC bomb that took her son’s life.
“We are not scared, what we ask for is that the revolutionary forces leave us in peave. This is a humble community, here the people are good,” said Patiño.
Juan Pablo was killed Wednesday when FARC guerrillas attacked the Siberia police station with home-made explosives called “tatucos.”
One of the bombs was launched at Juan Pablo’s house, where it exploded, seriously injuring the 5-year-old, who was rushed to hospital but died from his injuries.
Intense fighting between the FARC and the Colombian army is focused in south-west Colombia, particularly in the Cauca department, where mass forced displacement and civilians deaths are being reported.
The FARC leaders are believed to be hiding in the mountains in this area.