On Friday 26 July, an international day of solidarity was held to show support for human rights and peace in Colombia.
Rallies were organised across Colombia and in several other countries to denounce the killing of hundreds of social activists in Colombia and to call for full implementation of the 2016 peace agreement. Since the agreement was signed in November 2016, at least 500 social activists and 139 members of the FARC have been murdered, with the vast majority of cases occurring in regions historically affected by conflict and state abandonment.
In Colombia, the largest rally was in Bogota, while Cartagena, Cali, Bucaramanga and Medellin also saw large mobilisations of people. President Iván Duque attended the march in Cartagena and was jeered by protesters who blame his government for failing to implement the peace deal and improve security in unstable regions. Duque’s Democratic Centre party led opposition to the 2012-2016 peace negotiations and has sought to unilaterally apply changes to the final agreement. The party’s founder, former president Álvaro Uribe, has been accused of close links to paramilitary groups that committed massacres and displaced communities during the conflict.
The day of action was initially announced by Colombian human rights groups, social movements and opposition political parties, which called for an international response from the Colombian diaspora and supporters of the peace process. Among the cities to stage marches were Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Washington DC, Buenos Aires and Dubai.
In London, campaigners gathered outside the BBC headquarters to highlight the lack of media attention given to Colombia’s human rights crisis. They held aloft images of murdered social activists and a 30-metre banner bearing the names of more than 600 victims. They then marched through some of central London’s most-visited areas such as Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus.
The action ended with a rally outside the Houses of Parliament, with campaigners calling on the British government to hold the Colombian government to account over slow implementation of the peace agreement and the chronic insecurity across much of the country.
The London action was organised by the Defend the Defenders campaign formed of grassroots organisations and activists and supported by JFC.