Global march planned on July 26 against killings of social leaders in Colombia
The European Union (EU) announced Monday that it will allocate US$2.24 million to strengthen the special unit of the Prosecutor’s Office that investigates the murders of social leaders and former guerrilla fighters in Colombia.
“It is a program that increases the EU firm and determined commitment to the Colombian peace process, a commitment which is backed by political and diplomatic actions,” the EU ambassador to Colombia Patricia Llombart said.
The EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia Eamon Gilmore, who met with Colombian President Ivan Duque, also expressed the EU’s “unrestricted support” for the implementation of peace.
“We talked about several aspects of the peace agreement, but especially about what I consider to be the biggest challenge it faces: the continuation of the murders of ex-combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders,” Gilmore stressed.
He also recalled that most of the social leader killings take place in “remote communities” that often lack access to public service.
727 activists killed since peace agreement was signed in 2016.
Social leader Tatiana Paola Posso Espitia, 35, was shot twice in the head Wednesday (July 03) morning in front of her house in El Copey located in the Department of Cesar when two men on motorcycles fired at the activist and fled the scene.
The assassination occurred just as Espitia’s taxi driver, Wilson Ortega Palomino, arrived at her home to take the social leader to work, according to local media reports. The bad timing resulted in Ortega also being shot four times by the hitmen.
The National Network for Democracy and Peace in Colombia published a communique on its Twitter account firmly condemning the murder.
“Posso Espitia was a social activist committed to humanitarian aid, helping vulnerable people and victims of the armed conflict that continue to affect Colombia,” said the report.
The organization added that the social activist, who was a candidate for the community council, was a beloved member of her community.
The document also explained how the city El Copey has had a long history marked by threats against social leaders, deaths and massive displacement of the population.
The tragic event comes as the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) showed that since the signing of the peace agreement between the disarmed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government of former president, Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016, 727 social leaders or human rights advocates have been killed in Colombia.
The assassinations have so far mainly targeted Afro-Colombian and Indigenous rights activists, in addition to rural farmers advocating for land and political rights in their respective regions.
Colombia’s Ombudsman announced Wednesday that at least 983 social leaders have been threatened with death in Colombia, 50 percent of them are women.
Last week, the ‘We Defend Peace in Colombia’ human rights organization called for major peaceful protests in the country and abroad meant to pressure the President Ivan Duque administration into fully addressing the rampant murders.
The global march is set to take place July 26 and is meant to “pay tribute to the (assassinated) social leaders and to demand action to end these crimes,” said organizers.