The mothers of 19 young men on Sunday commemorated the death of their sons whose extrajudicial execution unleashed investigations into the killing of some 3,000 civilians at the hands of Colombia’s armed forces.
The “Mothers of Soacha,” a group of women from a city bordering the capital Bogota to the south, came together on a square to commemorate the four-year anniversary of their sons’ death.
In the case of the Soacha victims, investigators found out that young men from poor families were recruited for jobs, but were later executed, dressed up as members of illegal armed groups and registered as guerrillas killed in combat.
The practice that became known in Colombia as “false positives,” caused international condemnation and resulted in the investigation of more than 2,000 members of the security forces who were suspected of having killed civilians to increase the apparent effectiveness of their army unit.
The Mothers of Soacha, some of whom have been receiving death threats after demanding justice, told Spanish press agency Efe that they “want to ask the judges and the Prosecutor General’s Office that within the ranks of the armed forces, in the army, there did exist a conspiracy to commit a crime.”
The official position of the Colombian government and the armed forces has been that the extrajudicial killings, that took place across the country, have been isolated incidents.
According to the victims’ mothers, more than 3,500 civilians were executed by the army. Figures provided to Colombia Reports by the Prosecutor General’s Office earlier this year showed prosecutors had established that 2,984 civilians had been murdered by the army and later presented as combat kills.