Peace talks welcome but fight for justice in Colombia goes on

Lilian Macer
Lilian Macer – Photo: Kenny McCallum

#uNDC16 Colombia remains an extremely dangerous place to live for anyone who defends civil, human and workers’ rights.

That was the clear message from Scotland Regional delegate Lilian Macer, who moved the composite of motions from Scotland, and Lanarkshire Health amongst others.

UNISON will continue to work with Justice for Colombia and to press the Colombian authorities “to end the culture of impunity” and provide effective protection for all individuals at risk.

Lilian spoke movingly of her visit to Colombia at the end of last year (reported in yesterday’s briefing and the website) and gave testimony to the many human rights abuses in Colombia which have not yet been righted and to the courageous people that she met who continue the fight for justice.

Katrina Murray
Katrina Murray

Lilian said: “It was a very difficult experience. I had not imagined the level of corruption, injustice and poverty the Colombian people suffer. However the resilience from inspirational sisters and brothers was humbling.”

Lilian welcomed that Colombia is close to an “historic peace agreement” but emphasised the need for the international community to ensure the widest participation from the social movement.

Lilian said that the two big questions facing the Colombian Government and the FARC Guerrilla Group in the peace talks are first of all, how the country can hold human rights abusers accountable for their crimes?

Then, with the high levels of poverty and deprivation in the country, how can social and economic justice be achieved to sustain peace in Colombia?

Lanarkshire Health’s Katrina Murray also spoke movingly about the real experiences of people in Colombia.

She told delegates that speakers from Colombia attended the Branch AGM and struck a chord with the members.

“They were just like us. Women from deprived communities. But we don’t worry about our kids being shot by the government,” said Katrina.

She said that the branch had been so moved that they had held a race night to raise funds for the Mothers of Soacha, raising more than £2,500 so far. She thanked branches who had given to this very worthwhile cause and said that they are still open for donations.

The branch now plans another fundraising event – a cycle trip around Millport, and will be looking for sponsorship.

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