Colombian social leaders walked 15 days and 600 km to demand the right to life

A group of social activists and human rights defenders have been marching from the southwestern Colombia for the past 15 days to demand respect for the life, territory and human rights of minority groups in the country

July 11, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
March for Dignity arrived to Bogotá on Friday July 10. Photo: Colombia Informa

After walking for 15 days, social leaders and human rights defenders part of the “March for Dignity” arrived to Bogotá on July 10. The participants that represent 40 Indigenous, Afro-descendant, peasant and social movements and organizations, were moved to make the arduous journey due to the escalation of violence against those who defend life, territory and human rights.

During the march that departed from the city of Popayán on June 25, the group passed through 22 municipalities, met with hundreds of people and spoke with the victims of political violence and social injustice. The central objective of the march is to demand that the National Government led by Iván Duque take urgent measures in response to the systematic assassination of social leaders, ex-combatants, women and youth.

Upon arrival to Bogotá, the group held a press conference in the district of Ciudad Bolívar, the site of violent evictions of landless communities and families by the city government in May. There, the group which was now accompanied by hundreds of other social leaders and movement activists, denounced the systematic assassination of social leaders and extended solidarity to the communities in Bogotá who have been facing evictions despite stay-at-home orders.

This weekend, a series of activities will be organized to demand respect for life, territory and rights of the Indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant communities. Open meetings with workers, victims and social organizations will be held. A candle-lit march in defense of the lives of social leaders and human rights defenders will be carried out in the evening.

The organizations have called for a virtual demonstration on Twitter, to denounce the unceasing assassination of social leaders and former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as well as the increase in femicides and violence against LGBTQI community, using the hashtag #NosEstánMatando (#TheyAreKillingUs).

According to the data collected by the Institute of Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ), between January 1 and July 9, 2020, 164 environmentalists, human rights defenders, Indigenous, peasant and social leaders were killed.

The political party Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) denounced that since the signing of peace agreements, 216 former guerrilla members in the reincorporation process and 41 family members have been killed.

The Fundación Feminicidios Colombia reported that this year, at least 110 women were murdered in Colombia, 47 of them during coronavirus quarantine in force since March 25.

The Caribe Afirmativo, a LGBTQI organization, denounced that in the first semester of 2020, the number of homicides of lesbians, bisexuals and trans women shot up in Colombia as compared to the same period in 2019.