PBI-Colombia accompanies Peace Community of San José de Apartadó at 21st anniversary of La Unión massacre

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 8, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó in the twenty-first anniversary commemoration of the massacre in the village of La Unión in 2000.

The Peace Community is located more than 700 kilometres northwest of Bogota in the mountainous northern region in the department of Antioquia.

On March 23, 1997, the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado was formed. The farming community declared itself neutral in the armed conflict and rejected the presence of all the armed groups in its territory.

PBI-Colombia began accompanying the Peace Community in 1999.

PBI-Colombia notes: “21 years ago, PBI accompanied the families of the victims in the village of La Union. The day before, on July 8th, 2000, members of the Peace Community, Rigoberto Guzman, Elodino Rivera, Diofanor Correa, Humberto Sepulveda, Jaime Guzman and Pedro Zapata were assassinated by paramilitaries.”

That article adds: “According to Father Javier Giraldo, who has accompanied the community from its beginnings, this massacre was not the product of confrontations in the midst of the armed conflict, nor was it a war crime.  This massacre was planned and carried out with a single and indisputable objective: to wipe out the Peace Community.”

On the twentieth anniversary of its formation in 2017, the Peace Community stated that 326 of its members had been murdered and that more than 4,000 human rights violations had been committed against the community.

Earlier this year, Yes! magazine reported: “The Peace Community, in addition to suffering [a] new wave of violence [after the peace agreement in 2016], is also under the threat of losing their communal land from a state project of agrarian reform, according to Germán Romero, a lawyer with dhColombia, a nonprofit organization in charge of representing the community in court to seek justice for the violence they have experienced.”

PBI-Colombia says: “PBI will stand by the Community in this dignified struggle until they have security guarantees and the life they long for and deserve.”

To read the full PBI-Colombia article on this, click here.

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