US PLAN COLOMBIA,MORE MASS GRAVES...Twelve bodies a week discovered in mass graves across Colombia
Official figures have this week reminded us of the horrific nature of the violence carried out by state backed paramilitary death squads in Colombia. Since a process began in 2005 which allowed for the demobilization of paramilitary troops in exchange for reduced sentences, an average of twelve bodies have been uncovered every week in mass graves across the country. Although these paramilitary groups were supposed to have demobilised, they continue to operate across Colombia in collaboration with state security forces and are consolidating their presence in many regions. They continue to threaten and kill trade unionists and opponents of the government on a regular basis. Bodies which have sometimes been undiscovered for up to thirty years are being dug up from mass graves which were commonly used by the paramilitary forces to hide the extent of the violence they were inflicting on the Colombian population. The most violent period of the Colombian civil war was initiated after armed groups set-up by landowners and business owners to strike down anyone involved in opposing their economic interests joined together in the late 90’s as the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). The AUC spread across the country leaving behind them a trail of massacres, displaced communities and brutal violence, including chainsaw killings and beheadings, which was a self-declared calculated strategy used to instill fear in the population of the towns which they wanted to take over. State cooperation was systematic. Many politicians, Army Generals and Police chiefs are currently in jail. A lot more continue to operate with impunity. After performing acts of savage violence and forcing local populations to flee, the paramilitaries or their business partners would take over the land left behind. Most of these businesses continue to function and the majority of the victims who managed to flee have been unable to return to their land. Many of those who were killed were dumped in mass graves and families have been forced to suffer the pain of not knowing what happened to their loved ones. According to the national investigation unit 5,279 bodies have been found in 4,077 mass graves. In 2010 JFC took a delegation to one of the biggest graves discovered, in the La Macarena town in southern Colombia. Whilst the 2005 process has allowed certain truths to come out, it has been widely criticized for failing to bring anyone to justice for the crimes committed and for failing to bring an end to the paramilitary structures which continue to operate across Colombia. It has become known as the impunity law. By the end of 2012, seven years after the law which allowed for the supposed demobilisation to take place, only 14 sentences had been handed out by the courts. [[[[[When the paramilitary chiefs began to reveal information about involvement from high level politicians, they were immediately extradited to the United States where their continued involvement in truth hearings has become almost impossible]]]]]. Considering only the crimes that have been admitted to by individual paramilitary soldiers, the real number is far higher, the violence of the AUC with the support of the Army and Police between the late 90’s and 2005 included more than 1,000 massacres, 25,000 murders and 3,400 forced disappearances. Justice for Colombia campaigned tirelessly to highlight the crimes being committed by the Colombian Army and its paramilitary allies. Although the President and the names of the paramilitary groups have now changed, the savage violence continues. So does the campaign work of Justice for Colombia.
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