Colombian bishops support marches against murder of community organizers

Bogota Colombia Credit Dario Diament Shutterstock CNA Dario Diament/Shutterstock.

The Colombian bishops' conference has expressed its support for Friday's national march against the murders of social work leaders, citing the sanctity of human life and urging national reconciliation.

According to the People's Ombudsman's Office, between Jan. 1, 2016 and Feb. 28, 2019, 462 social work leaders were killed throughout the country.

On July 20 alone, three of these crimes were recorded.

In a July 24 statement the bishops said that "we support and join the citizen mobilizations to take place July 26 to express our repudiation of the murder of so many social work leaders who were working for the good of their communities, and to unite with one conviction: that life is sacred and that together we must build a country that is reconciled and at peace."

The bishops asked that church bells be rung that day "as a call to everyone to a commitment in favor of life."

Civil, political and academic organizations have called a national march in repudiation of the murders of social work leaders that have taken place in recent months.

The bishops expressed their "profound sorrow because the violence continues to destroy the lives of many brothers and sisters. We pray for them and express our solidarity with their families," they said.

"Life is sacred and inviolable, a supreme and fundamental right, which is not negotiable and that is necessary to defend and ensure to achieve a free and just country, reconciled and at peace," they said.

The bishops asked Colombians "to join forces to promote and courageously defend the lives of our brothers, particularly the weakest and most needy: Let us close ranks against the culture of death to be a people that serves life!"

The government offered a reward Jan. 31 to anyone who provides information leading to the capture of the 31 people considered to be responsible for the murders of the social work leaders.

The authorities indicated that those responsible are the leaders of the National Liberation Army and FARC dissidents who did not accept the 2016 peace agreement, as well as other violent groups souch as the Clan del Golfo.

On July 24, the commander of the Military Forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, announced that eight of the 31 most wanted persons have been captured.

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