(Translated by Stacey Schlau, CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN volunteer editor.)
Medellín, Nov 30 (IPC) – During its week of human rights 2010, the People’s Institute of Wellbeing (IPC) seeks, in essence, the following goals: deepening the discussions about the problem of land tenancy in Colombia, letting the victims of the armed conflict help write a Law of Reparation, bringing into the open the possibility of finding a negotiated solution to the armed conflict, and proposing civilian alternatives regarding the challenge of urban security.
Under the slogan, “Campaign for the restitution of land and civilian security: a step toward peace,” the NGO hopes to open up the space for debate and at the same time bring together a wide range of opinions to reflect on these themes, which are currently a central priority for both the Executive and Legislative governing bodies.
Toward this end, the IPC has organized a series of academic activities, from which they hope will emerge important ideas that will be brought to bear on the public deliberation of the aforementioned themes. The “Presentation of the Report on Personal Security in Medellín” by the Human Security Observatory, an initiative in which the Inspector General’s Office of Medellín and the Institute of Regional Studies (INER) of the University of Antioquia took part, is an example of this.
During the presentation, which will be held in the auditorium of the Barrientos House, beginning at 8 a.m. there will be a report on the activities spearheaded by the Observatory regarding its purpose of making communities aware of the concept of human security. “Human security” can be defined as basically including necessities of the individual (such as the right to a dignified life) that go beyond simple physical threats. At the Event, a report on each of the conflicts that currently tear apart Medellín will be presented.
The same day, at 5:30 p.m., a forum will occur in the Auditorium of the Cooperativa Confiar (Have Confidence Cooperative): “Restitution of Lands and Victims of Armed Conflict.” Members of the Equipo de Tierras de la Institución (Institution’s Team on Lands) and Gerardo Vega, director of the Fundación Forjando Futuros (Forging Futures Foundation), will participate. The purpose of this forum is to generate a space for critical discussion about the proposed Law of Lands and Reparation to Victims of the Armed Conflict being put forth by the national government. That law is currently being discussed in the Congress of the Republic.
Also to be presented are the preliminary findings from the research that the IPC is currently undertaking regarding the disposal of goods in the Urabá and Lower Cauca in Antioquia regions.
One of the goals of the NGO is the search for negotiated solutions to the long armed conflict that is tearing apart the country. Proof of this is the “Departmental Meeting for Dialogue about Peace and Reconciliation” that will take place on December 3 and 4 in the St. Ignatius High School. Besides encouraging debate about peace and reconciliation, for which there will also be a consultation of civilians about “The Human Right to Peace,” the meeting will also serve to identify experiences of resistance and building peace that might be duplicated throughout the Department.
The Departmental Meeting will include the presence of nationally and internationally recognized personalities such as Peruvian Patricia Abozaglo; Colombian political scientist Natalia Springer; priest Nel Beltrán; and Mauricio García, currently the Director of the Center for Popular Research and Education (Cinep).
Similarly, on December 3, at 9 a.m., in the NGO’s headquarters, the “Report on Human Rights 2010” will be presented. The report discusses the human rights situation in the capital of Antioquia for the whole year. Besides calling attention to violations of the right to life in the city, the ways in which the educational sector is suffering because of the war between different kinds of gangs, among other things, will be discussed.
The Campaign will culminate on December 6 with the international seminar “Cities and Mafias: Between Legality and Illegality,” which will take place in the Plaza Mayor Convention Center. The Peace and Democracy Corporation and the Medellín Procurator’s Office will also participate in organizing this. Those who know about the Mafia and urban conflicts in El Salvador, México, Brazil, and Colombia will also be present.
As its name indicates, the goal of the meeting is to bring into the open conceptual elements that help to explain the complexity that underlies the current conflict occurring in the most important Colombian cities. This is reflected in the alarming increase in homicides in Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla; the product of confrontations among armed groups that count on the apprenticeships of the irregular armies (guerrilla and paramilitaries); an abundant flow of resources from drug trafficking; and criminal activities of organized crime.
For Diana Marcela Barajas Velandia, Coordinator of the Human Rights Observatory of the IPC, these activities may inspire reflection and involvement in the debates on these issues that will be occurring on both a local and national level. For years, these issues were marginalized in the public agenda, in spite of their strategic importance.
“We aim for building informed opinion, so that citizens in general take up these themes, get involved in deliberations about them, since they are essential to national life, so much so that they are now at the center of the government’s agenda,” stated Barajas.
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