Colombian Civil Society Organisations call for bilateral ceasefire

Justice For Colombia News | on: Monday, 11 February 2013

A coalition of high profile civil society sectors, including the CUT, Colombian Trade Union Congress, Colombians for Peace and sectors of the Church, have called for an immediate and bilateral end to hostilities and for the Colombian military to cease operations that put the civilian population at risk.

See the full statement below:

Dialogue and Peace are the Only Way Out

Bogotá, 1st February 2013

Open letter to all Colombians, the Santos government and to the FARC-EP, ELN and EPL

A respectful greeting,

To continue the war is an inadmissible ethic; it puts at risk the possibility of preserving life and the freedoms and rights of civilians and of the combatants.

We consider that the proliferation in recent days of military operations by the State Forces and insurgent groups is alarming and puts at risk the construction of a real peace; as well as declarations by high-ranking government officials threatening to break with the negotiating table in Havana. In addition to this, is the fact that the government has left in limbo, since September, the approaches towards the ELN and is yet to respond to the public communiqué by the EPL.

In the country, parallel to the peace talks, there has been an increase in grave violations of human rights and infractions of International Humanitarian Law. The recent approval of the widening in the jurisdiction of military justice; the deepening of the neoliberal extractive model in disregard of the rights of ethnic communities and local groups, that implies irreparable environmental harm; the statute of rural development that deepens the inequity in the countryside and the implementation of policies that deepen the social conflict, such as the tributary, pension and health reforms, among others, make clear the nature of the national government’s conception of peace.

In spite of this reality, we consider that in the peace negotiations, nothing has been exhausted. Today, hope remains steadfast and the human, social and environmental costs of prolonging the war drive us to demand:

1. That the government and the FARC-EP, do not leave the table until they reach a political agreement for ending the conflict.

2. That the government agrees with the ELN, a general framework for conversations, that should be known publically, and that they respond to the EPL on their disposition to be a part of the peace process.

It is recommendable in a peace negotiation, to agree immediately a bilateral cease fire and end to hostilities. In response to President Santos’ refusal to do this, we propose:

1. To agree a Special Agreement to be applied immediately, as contemplated in International Humanitarian Law. It would be an explicit cementing of the inclusion of humanitarian norms for all parties, regular and insurgent forces, while the hostilities persist, to relieve the suffering of the civilian population and of the combatants themselves.

2. To explore the possibility of putting to work a mechanism of formal mediation between the parties, such as has occurred in other successful peace processes in the world. It could be a new third party or one of the countries who are accompanying or guaranteeing the negotiating table. Their principal function, would be to ensure that the existing contradictions and differences do not lead to a rupture in the dialogues.

3. That the FARC-EP release the persons deprived of their freedom, as a result of their actions within the war; and that the government generates the conditions to be able to carry out the releases.

4. That the recommendations put forward in the report presented by the government on the prison situation and in particular on those who have been deprived of their freedom due to belonging to the insurgencies, be assumed and implemented.

5. That the national government cease military operations that put the civilian population at risk. Suspend all types of persecution, criminalisation and false judicial processes against the political opposition and social movements, guarantee a cease in paramilitary actions, and do not act in omission, tolerance or complicity with paramilitarism.

Peace is seated in society. Nothing agreed will have legitimacy or validity without the participation of society. We have always constructed proposals for a just and equitable Colombia, we, the people, have not only suffered the war, but have also walked the paths of peace. For this reason, as the Common Social Route for Peace, we announce to the country, that during these next six months we will be in a process of permanent mobilisation and construction of proposals so that the right to peace becomes a reality.

Common Social Route for Peace Coalition

Casa de la Mujer (Woman’s House)
Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT (Colombian Trade Union Congress)
Colombians for Peace
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (Inter-ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace)
COMOSOC (Coalition of Movements and Social Organisations of Colombia)
Comunidades Construyendo Paz en los Territorios (Communities Constructing Peace)
Congreso de los Pueblos (People’s Congress)
Patriotic March
Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria (Social and Community Resistance)
Minga Valle (Community Group)
Ruta Pacífica de Mujeres (Women’s Route for Peace)
ACEU (Colombian Association of University Students)
Sectores de Iglesias por la Paz (Church Sectors for Peace)
Proyecto Puentes por la Paz (Bridge to Peace Project)

Signed by
Angela María Robledo, Wilson Arias, Congressman Iván Cepeda, Piedad Córdoba

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