BOGOTA – The mothers and relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings by the Colombian army, known as “false positive” killings, delivered on Tuesday to peace organizations a report in which they discuss their long and historic search for truth and justice.
“With my hand on my soul, I ask for justice. Let them deliver to us the person who really cut short the life of my son,” Flor Hilda Hernandez, the mother of a young man who disappeared in 2008, presumably killed by the army, said during the event.
“For me, it’s very sad that in 13 years nobody has responded to the death of my son,” she said.
The women, members of the Mothers of False Positives of Colombia (Mafapo) organization, delivered on Tuesday their report titled “United for memory and truth” to the Truth Commission and the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which recently raised the number of false positive victims in one of its macro-cases to 6,402, triple the figure provided so far by the Prosecutor’s Office.
In the report, the second one presented to the JEP, the women detail their long struggle to find their sons, who were taken away by the army after receiving offers of work but then executed to provide better “kill results” to the troops’ superiors to obtain leave, assorted rewards and other benefits, all of which the army was handing out to soldiers who showed high guerrilla death totals.
“We want the top authorities to … tell us what happened with our relatives, to tell us who gave the order,” said another woman, Jacqueline Castillo, adding that “together we want to be part of the historic truth that our country needs.”
These tireless mothers have acted as journalists, investigators and their own psychologists, as Castillo explained. They have carried out all sorts of actions to call attention to their cause and some have even sold their homes to be able to continue the search for their relatives.
In addition, they have faced the threats of a government that, they say, did not want and continues not to want to acknowledge the truth, as well as other entities that helped Colombian authorities and the military cover up the murders.
The army and the state have turned their backs on the women, they claim, and their efforts have been stymied in the courts, where they have achieved a few convictions of perpetrators but always on much lesser charges.
In July 2019, the JEP, the peace court created under the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, opened Case 3, titled “Deaths illegitimately presented as combat casualties by agents of the state,” on the basis of report No. 5 by the Prosecutor’s Office that indicated at the time that there had been a total of 2,248 false positive killings between 1988-2014.
In February, the JEP established that at least 6,402 people were illegally killed to beef up guerrilla combat casualty lists in Colombia between 2002-2008, placing most of the killings during the 2002-2010 administration of Alvaro Uribe.
“We thank the JEP because it’s the entity that has opened a tiny little window that is opening further every day,” Mafapo member Blanca Nubia Monroy said.