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15 April 2012
April 12, 2012
Translated by IPO
The National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) denounces the events that occurred in the city of Villavicencio, Meta, on April 9, the Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with Victims, as observed according to the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law. During this event the memory of victims of state crimes was censured, assaulted, and threatened, by sabotaging the Gallery of Remembrance.
On the afternoon of April 8, members of the MOVICE Meta chapter arrived at the Álvaro Mesa arena in Villavicencio, where the Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with Victims was to take place the next day. The chapter wished to hang a banner with images and accounts of the victims of state crimes in Meta, so that it could be viewed during the ceremony. However a Police Captain told them he had instructions not to let them hang the banner or enter the arena.
That night, the chapter was informed that they would be allowed to enter the arena. But the next day, when they arrived at 7:00 AM with their banners, police officers read each one before allowing them to enter. The police also prevented the entry of markers and poster boards, stating they wished to avoid any signs that discredited the government or the president.
Moreover, a group of victims that had arrived from the municipality of Lejanías, Meta, with posters from their remembrance ceremony, which they were not allowed to bring in to the arena. In their case, the police told them they were not allowing any type of poster inside. Thus the images of their loved ones, the victims from Lejanías, were left behind out in the rain while the event took place inside.
While the remembrance galleries were being prepared inside the arena, two young men approached a member of MOVICE Meta, asking repeatedly where the posters about extrajudicial executions were. The general public had not yet arrived, and the only people present were state officials or members of the security forces. At the same time, the police prohibited a member of the Corporación Reinciar from hanging a poster with the text “A hope Colombia once had is gone” accompanied by pictures of some of the five thousand victims of the genocide carried out against the Patriotic Union. The police officers argued that the poster couldn’t be hung because it was “political”, and told the member of Corporación Reinciar that if it wasn’t taken down they would be kicked out. Faced with this intimidation, there was no option other than taking down the poster.
At 10 in the morning, a victim of an extrajudicial execution received a telephone call while reviewing the speech they were going to give during the ceremony. The caller said, “Be careful what you say, because you know who you’re messing with…” and then hung up suddenly. Naturally this victim felt considerably inhibited during the speech, and did not express everything they were going to say about their case.
We condemn the open censorship, silencing, aggression, and threats by the National Police against the memory of the victims of state crimes, as these acts are a denigration, sabotage, and assault against the victims’ dignity.
We regret that, on the one hand, the Table of National Unity spreads the image that the victims’ moment has arrived, while on the other controls, institutionalizes, and administers the memory of the victims with the help of the security forces. This reinforces our critical position toward the Victims’ and Land Restitution Law.
We demand a response from the national government regarding these acts, which in all respects go against the memory of the victims of state crimes, and regarding the criminalization to which the remembrance gallery was subjected.
These acts prove that we are not in a transitional moment, and that the political, social, and armed conflict in our country is waged even in the realm of images, symbols, and accounts—and always to the detriment of the victims, favoring instead the memory wielded by authority.
1) To the Procuraduría General de la Nación: that investigations against the members of the security forces responsible for violating the right the free expression during the event on April 9th in Villavicencio.
2) To the Fiscalía General de la Nación: that efficient action be taken in investigating all violence and aggression on the part of the security forces against the victims that participated in the event on April 9th in Villavicencio.
3) To the Ministerio del Interior: that security is guaranteed for all the victims that participated in the event on April 9th in Villavicencio.
4) To the National Government: that the public policy for the protection of victims include not only physical protection, but also the elimination of all forms of revictimization, and the punishment of those responsible for any such aggression.