Colombia Vive statement in solidarity the victims of state-sponsored violent displacement and with the MOVICE actions
March 13, 2012
Colombia Vive stands in solidarity with the thousands of people who marched in the streets of dozens of cities in Colombia and around the world on March 6, 2012, to mark the annual “International Day of the Victims of State Crimes in Colombia.” Coordinated by Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado (MOVICE), or the Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes, the demonstrations highlighted the severe limitations and challenges posed by the current Colombian administration’s land restitution policies.
Launched in 2005, MOVICE is comprised of over 300 organizations representing victims of crimes committed in the context of the Colombian conflict, including victims of forced displacement, massacres and political genocide. The movement gives victims of state-sponsored crimes a platform to affirm their rights to truth, justice and full reparation. Colombia Vive supports MOVICE and its struggle to ensure respect for victims’ rights and an end to impunity for perpetrators as necessary conditions for the emergence of a lasting peace and a true democracy in Colombia.
MOVICE focused this year’s annual demonstration on displacement and related land issues because Colombia has one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world—an estimated 5.2 million people. Despite praise in some international quarters, President Santos’s land restitution policies are severely limited, do not provide victims with full access to justice and reparations, and seem unlikely to improve things for Colombia’s victims. The government provides no guarantees for displaced individuals, families and communities attempting to reclaim their lands. Most egregiously, the government offers no safeguards to ensure that those returning to their lands will not face violent confrontations with paramilitary forces that continue to occupy these same territories with impunity. Those returning to their lands face the same threats and violence they were forced to flee.
Exacerbating the many flaws in the writing and implementation of land restitution laws, the Colombian government has also failed to protect victims, their advocates and others who criticize its policies from violence and intimidation. Since 2005, there have been 66 cases in which land restitution leaders have been killed, nearly half of them in the last few years. The United Nations reports that nearly 1,500 displaced Colombians have been killed since 2007. According to MOVICE, participants in last week’s peaceful demonstrations in Colombia were met with intimidation and threats of arrest by government authorities.
Colombia Vive asks our supporters to sign MOVICE’s letter to President Santos seeking improvements to his administration’s land restitution policies and asking him to publicly support and provide protection for land rights leaders, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders, unionists, human rights defenders, environmentalists, campesino leaders, journalists, and the many other people in Colombia who face threats and attacks for standing up for their rights.
Visit Colombia Vive’s website to sign the letter here.
Ana Zambrano, Director
Colombia Vive is an all-volunteer organization that supports efforts for peace, human rights, and social justice in Colombia.
We condemn all forms of oppression and do not support any of the armed actors in the Colombian conflict.