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Murphy meets victims of Colombian state violence

22 July, 2014 - by Conor Murphy


Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy continued his visit to Colombia today today by meeting with victims of state violence to hear their stories at first hand. 

The Newry and Armagh MP said; 

"The delegation to Colombia had a chance today to hear the harrowing stories of some of the victims of Colombian state violence when we visited the 'Mothers of Soacha' group. 

"The delegation to Colombia had a chance today to hear the harrowing stories of some of the victims of Colombian state violence when we visited the 'Mothers of Soacha' group. 

"In 2005 the Colombian military leader, General Montoya issued a secret order to his forces offering financial and other bonuses for the killing of guerrillas which led to a huge upsurge in extrajudicial executions. Protests from human rights groups that the military were killing non combatants and dressing their bodies in FARC uniforms were dismissed as propaganda by the government despite the fact that the groups had identified almost 1000 cases.

"In 2008 the army established a bogus employment scheme in the poor neighbourhood of Soacha, on the southern outskirts of Bogota, to tempt young men to leave the area.  23 young men vanished from Soacha as part of this scheme and their bodies were subsequently found hundreds of miles away, killed in guerrilla fighting according to the army.

"One mother told us how she and her other son refused to accept this account of their sons death and began to publicly challenge the army, leading to death threats to the family. Her surviving son was kidnapped by two policemen and thrown off a bridge, surviving with serious injuries, only to be subsequently executed by  gunmen.

"Despite the ongoing death threats the mothers banded together and took on the state prompting a UN investigation into what has now become known as the scandal of the 'False Positives'. 

"The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the Colombian army of "systematic and widespread" extrajudicial killings and a "crime against humanity". 

The UN Rapporteur went further stating the military was guilty of  "cold-blooded, premeditated murder of innocent civilians for profit".

"The Colombian government promised action and General Montoya stepped down from his post (to be made Ambassador to the Dominican Republic) followed by 27 other senior army personnel, however none have been convicted and a Human Rights report notes that there is "little chance that justice will be obtained".

"As our delegation squashed into the tiny barrio home of Maria, one of the mothers, to hear her testimony and that of her friends, we were struck by their determination to achieve justice despite their obvious ongoing devastation at the murder of their sons. 

"These women have begun to organise and educate themselves and are not daunted by taking on the might of the Colombian military and state. 

"They want the world to know their story and we promised to tell it for them.

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