(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN Volunteer Editor.)
” . . . The Community had insisted to the Public Defender’s Office that the appropriate authorities ought to carry out the judicial inspection of the bodies, but they paid no attention. According to the Public Defender’s Office, the Army had carried out exercises in that area and they stated that the Community was lying about the bodies. They said there had not been any combat and that there were no dead bodies in the area; nor were there any paramilitaries . . .”
Our Peace Community decided yesterday, April 11, 2011, that we would go to recover the remains of the two paramilitaries who lay unburied in the town of Arenas Bajas after the combat that took place on Friday, April 1 between the guerrillas and the paramilitaries. The Community had insisted to the Public Defender’s Office that the appropriate authorities ought to carry out the judicial inspection of the bodies, but they paid no attention. According to the Public Defender’s Office, the Army had carried out exercises in that area and they stated that the Community was lying about the bodies. They said there had not been any combat and that there were no dead bodies in the area; nor were there any paramilitaries.
In spite of that, the people in the area had seen how on April 1 a group of 25 paramilitaries entered the area to inspect the bodies of their comrades, but they did not take them away. Meanwhile a military helicopter was protecting them from the air. Our Community by now is accustomed to hearing falsehoods from the Army and other government institutions, so this kind of lying and hiding of the raw reality of events is not surprising.
Many people who do not know us, who have not walked with us, ask how it is possible that these paramilitaries who have threatened us, who have frequently warned us to abandon our land and who have taken part in a multitude of crimes against us, working with the armed forces, we now treat in a humanitarian way, to the extent that we even went to recover their remains and bury them with a little dignity. Within the criteria of the system of death and inhumanity that surrounds us, that is not understood. Rather, in their society, the principle of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” rules. In their speeches, our presidents incite us to take revenge against the insurgency. They use barbaric language, language that makes you shiver.
But we do not share those principles. Our battle for justice is completely alien and contrary to feelings of revenge. We demand justice; we say NO to the armed actors. We demand their respect; we do not give in to their demands. We will not surrender to their threats and their acts of barbarity. They certainly generate fear in us and intense pain with their criminal acts, but what they have never been able to do, nor will they be able to do, is to generate hate in us. Our hearts throb with life and they will never beat for death. That is exactly why we seek justice, not revenge. We believe that the dignity of any human being is more important than the conflicts and that is why our Community has made the choice to recover the remains, bury them and/or turn them over to their families.
We risked our own lives to go looking for these remains. We wanted to demonstrate that life could only be fulfilled and expressed when the ideals of justice are carried out. We are in contrast to those who spread death. They only create pain and death with their weapons, even though they will never kill civilian resistance. That is what builds and gives meaning to a world that will be free of oppression, of impunity, and of injustice.
We turned the bodies over to their families and they expressed to us their gratitude. They had experienced the dehumanization of a government that lies and toys with the families’ grief in such a repugnant manner, after having destroyed the conscience of those whom they have bound and trained to do the most horrible crimes.
We reaffirm our principles that are based in solidarity and we will continue with the firm defense of our land, and we will continue to make a truthful record, and we will not retreat even one millimeter in the face of the deadly actions of the armed actors.
“PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSÉ DE APARTADÓ”
April 12, 2011
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