On March 6th, International Team Member Diego Benitez accompanied Martha Giraldo, a victim whose father was murdered in an extrajudicial killing, at an event in Cali organized by the National Movement of victims of State Crimes (MOVICE in Spanish). The public event was a call to action for the many victims of state crimes in Colombia that remain helpless while the memory of their loved ones, and the horrific circumstances surrounding their deaths, is lost in delayed court cases, government indifference, or sadly, is forced into silence by unknown armed actors. Event participants included families of victims, human rights organizations, community leaders, NGO’s, and average citizens who are concerned that their country still suffers from a longstanding and complex internal conflict. Witness for Peace was the only international organization providing protective accompaniment for the at-risk protestors.As an organizer and spokeswoman for MOVICE’s Cali chapter, Martha has asked Witness for Peace to publish quotes from an official statement that was read publicly on stage during the event:
"Today the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes is the main tool we have to boost the actions of the victims as protagonists in the fight against impunity…We must move forward in building an organizational process that guarantees victims the right to know the truth, to gain justice, and have access to reparation and guarantees… “
“We are horrified that the soldiers involved in the crimes against our families, of indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, rural farmers, and marginalized people throughout Colombia, which (after assassination) are falsely presented as criminals, are free and not behind bars”.
Highlighting the extrajudicial cases throughout the country, the statement goes on to say that:
“The so-called ‘false positives’ carried out by the Colombian State, are undertaken in a systematic and widespread manner, and continue with impunity. Meanwhile the families of the victims have to endure, aside from the loss of their loved ones, the lack of legal guarantees and protection from the state. Systematized in this way, the victims suffer a double victimization where they must not only overcome the many obstacles to arrive at the truth through the legal system, but also endure the abusive trials that instead of clarifying the facts, contribute to the concealment of crimes.”MOVICE has declared March 6th as the national day to gather and reaffirm the victims’ right to “Truth, Justice and Comprehensive Reparations”. Witness for Peace is committed to continuing its accompaniment of Martha Giraldo and the many other victims who have suffered the terrible circumstances of violence, indifference, and forced silence.
To learn more about Martha, her case and extrajudicial executions in Colombia, watch a short video here.