Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator
We are continuing to make a record, before the nation and before the world, because the assaults against our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó are multiplying every week. The different agencies of the government, as some see them, are every day more blind and deaf to the outcries of the victims; as others see them, they are perfecting their repression in a tight working relationship with the paramilitaries and the gangs that appear to be made up of common criminals. The result is the same: their plans to exterminate the Peace Community are advancing with the same malevolence that they have demonstrated for 14 years. In spite of that, in the midst of this menace, we keep on believing in Life, even though we see ourselves besieged by Death. The memory of our martyrs keeps us going, as an unshakable energy of resistance. We know that in the face of so much death the hope for life seems overwhelmed, but for us it is not that way; on the contrary, hope becomes stronger. In so many parts of the world, this power of peace and civil resistance is stronger than ever. It is to those militants for peace and justice that we send our stories; to those who have that unquenchable fortitude and who identify themselves by their vitality for Life and for Justice.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, around 11 a.m., in the town of Mulatos-Cabecera, Colombian Army troops destroyed a whole hectare of rice belonging to ARSENIO DÍAZ. In addition, they were using his farm for a heliport, without asking his permission, and destroying other crops that were needed for the subsistence of his family. This is an open violation of international human rights law.
On Friday, April 29, 2011, around 6:30 a.m., an 18-year old man named MANUEL DE JESUS MORA was murdered in the town of Mulatos-Cabecera. He was at home when the neighbors heard rifle fire and when they came to check on him they found him dead from two rifle shots. Manuel’s name had been on the lists of people that the paramilitaries had identified. They read the list with his name on April 25 in the town of Caracolí, a place where the Army is almost always present. Also, on the previous day at about 8:00 a.m., a masked man had shown up at his house. He ran away a few moments later without saying anything. Not only that, some Colombian Army soldiers had asked about him that same week, and at the moment of the murder they were camped only 300 meters from Manuel’s house. The community helped Manuel’s mother to take him to her house and have the wake there. He was buried there on Saturday, April 30. The community extends its deepest sympathy to his family.
On Saturday April 30 and Sunday, May 1, 2011, during the morning, there was combat in the towns of Arenas and Bellavista. The civilians who live in these settlements were terrified. Also you could hear a tremendous noise on the road that leads from Apartadó to San José and the news media reported that an Army truck had been bombed. This is further evidence of the worsening of the conflict. Everyone can see the enormous number of troops and the building of a bunker for the police right in the middle of the civilian population, contrary to the order of the Constitutional Court. Add to that the presence of at least six huge paramilitary bases in the area. All of that attracts other armed actors and puts the lives and bodily integrity of all of the surrounding civilian population at high risk.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, at around 8:00 a.m., in the town of Arenas Altas, Army troops stopped ELIÉCER GUZMÁN, a member of the Peace Community and formerly a member of the Internal Council. The soldiers berated him; they told him that he was a guerrilla and that this sonofabitching peace community were all guerrillas. After subjecting him to some more abuse, they told him that the next time they saw him they would kill him.
On Monday, May 2, 2011, around 4:00 p.m., in the place known as Chontalito, between San Josesito and Mulatos, four members of our community were subjected to a “tax census”, in flagrant violation of the mandate of the Constitutional Court. They took their pictures and took them in front of a masked man. The soldiers asked the masked man about each of the men and he answered by shaking his head. After that, they let them go.
We are aided by the conviction that many people in many parts of the world are walking with us in solidarity in a spiritual resistance in the face of all this barbarity, putting our faith in Life, as against Death. We are inspired to build spaces that are different from those where war is waged; spaces for peace; spaces without violence, as an essential means to create solidarity and transparency which finally will result in a real world of Justice and Life.
PEACE COMMUNITY OF SAN JOSÉ DE APARTADÓ
May 4, 2011
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