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Women takes stand in Colombia's armed conflict

08-03-2011 21:39 BJT

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CCTV correspondent Michelle Begue reports from the northern province of Colombia called Chocó.

60 year old Agripina is a survivor. In the past 15 years she has come face to face with murderous paramilitary groups in her town of New Hope on river basin of Jiguamiando. Agripina says she has never backed down even in moments when many would cower in the face of violence. She described one confrontation when armed groups held her and other civilians captive.

Agripina said, “An armed man told me “you have a sharp tongue I should put 3 bullets in you” I answered back..

You know best, if you will put 1 or 3 or 20 bullets in me.. If god wills it, it shall be done. The sin will not be mine but yours.”

Official numbers show 3,6 million displaced during decades of violence. But the people of the humanitarian zones are known as the resisters who have come back to their land and refuse to move.

This house has stood through years of violence while its community has been repeatedly displaced. It even survived the burning of this town in 2001. Today it stands as a symbol of resistance for the community.

The women of these towns have an important role in the struggle as they are often sent to peacefully calm armed agitators. Liria is the legal representative of her town Caracoli. She has pent countless nights with other women of the community keeping guard outside the humanitarian posts to make sure their lands and crops are safe from aggressions. But recently some of the women have suffered sexual assaults.

Liria Rosa Garcia Giraldo, legal representative of Caracoli,said, “Sometimes we are afraid of leaving the humanitarian zones because they can assault us because there is no security. That scares us sometimes. But still, we are determined to die but never leave our lands.”

According to a Spanish NGO Intermón Oxfam, Half a million women between 2001 and 2009 suffered direct sexual assaults from guerrillas, paramilitary groups and even the national armed forces.

There to witness violent aggressions and document them are Non-government organization d the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission.

During our visit to the Humanitarian zones, Commanders of a paramilitary group made verbal aggressions and death threats to community members. Elisa a member of the Justice and Peace commission stepped in with a colleague and the women of the town to ask the armed aggressors to leave. Although they can’t provide physical security their International presence provided moral support.

Elisa Norio, Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission, said, “ Basically we just accompanied the women, who wanted and decided to face the situation. Hurting someone of the zone is different with respect of the political impact of hurting someone of the peace and justice commission. More if it somebody who comes from abroad like me.”

The international presence in some areas of the humanitarian zone is a huge support to the communities who would otherwise be alone in their fight. However the real strength comes from within each member of the towns. They work together incessantly with the hope future generations will truly know peace in Colombia.

Editor:Zhang Ning |Source: CNTV.CN

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