The coordinator of a major study on the killing of Colombia’s social leaders has decried public disinterest over these attacks on human rights that terrorize entire communities.
In an interview with newspaper El Espectador, human rights investigator Camilo Bonilla said “it is very said to see” how indifferent the urban population has become over fate of their fellow countrymen in rural areas.
The Colombian armed conflict began in the 1960s and was at its most intense around the turn of the century. Two of the main human rights violators during the conflict, the AUC and the FARC, have demobilized since 2003.
Millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands and been murdered. Tens of thousands of Colombians are still missing.
With the help of the government and human rights organizations, Bonilla created a public armed conflict library in an attempt to educate the public about how the armed conflict has hit their regions.
The library allows visitors to study the violence in their own region in order to bridge the gap between the urban population and rural communities.
It is very sad to see how people who are not Colombian have more knowledge of Colombian reality than the people who live in this country.
Bonilla, on behalf of three major human rights organization, last week delivered a report that said that in 2016 and the first quarter of this year, 156 human rights defenders were assassinated.
A United Nations official has indicated the killing of leaders increased after a peace deal with Marxist FARC guerrillas.
According to the report, indigenous leaders have been the primary target of the killings, followed by rural community representatives and Afro-Colombian rights leaders.
The communities are caught between the security forces and illegal armed groups that vie for territory abandoned by the FARC last year.
Gay rights and labor rights activists have also been affected by the violence.
In 57% of the homicide cases, authorities could not determine a motive or perpetrator, according to the study. This would be significantly down from the 97% impunity rate estimated during the armed conflict.
The disinterest in the violent repression of fundamental rights follows decades of extreme violence and systematic stigmatization.
Defenders of community’s rights on, for example, potable water have falsely been accused of being guerrilla sympathizers or communists.