Mennonite Christian Church of Colombia
PUBLIC OPINION PIECE
In favour of the right to peace and life with dignity
Inspired by our faith in Jesus and His Gospel of Peace with Justice, the Mennonite Christian Church of Colombia categorically repudiates the acts of violence that were unleashed this week in our country. In one sense they are a response to an attempt by the government to pass a regressive tax reform that prejudices the lives of Colombians, and for which they did not seek the necessary consensus among civil society groups and labor organizations, or amongst politicians. This reform failed. They are also a reaction to new proposals for reforms to healthcare and labor rights, as well as a rise in the poverty index.
Over the past days there have been many acts of vandalism that prejudice the citizenry, the police force, infrastructure and public assets. Even so, the violence perpetrated by the State Forces has cost the lives of scores of people, most of whom are youth that took to the streets in different cities to march peacefully as proof of their commitment to a vision that promotes life with dignity for the citizens of this country. As has been reported by the press, the violence committed by infiltrators and the police has left hundreds of people wounded, arbitrarily arrested, and victims of sexual abuse.
As the Mennonite Christian Church of Colombia, we affirm the constitutional rights established in Article 22 of the constitution that states “peace is a compulsory right and duty”, and in Article 37 that states “it is a right to require that all other rights are fulfilled”. We believe that the State should guarantee that this right is fulfilled and the lives of those who decide to march are protected. For this reason, we stand against the militarization of our cities in order to repress the protests that make plain the citizens’ discontent with how the government and public entities have handled the pandemic. We utterly denounce and condemn the excessive force used by the police, as well as by those who have infiltrated the protests. In the same way, we express our deep concern for the violation of human rights by the State. Due to the above, we urge the national government to desist from repressive actions and to create fora for dialogues that can lead to constructive consensus among different social and political movements with a view to finding just and adequate solutions to the issues afflicting the country, and in a way that meets the needs of the populace. As a church we are committed to supporting any efforts that move in this direction, and we offer our gifts and skills that are rooted in our pacifist legacy going back more than 500 years.
We are grateful to the international community for their expressions of solidarity at this time, and we urge you to remain vigilant and keep watch over how this turbulent situation evolves. We also denounce any human rights violations that occur.
Bogota, Colombia, 5 May 2021.
For the National Committee – IMCOL
YALILE CABALLERO VARGAS
Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia
Official Press Release
Mennonite Brethren Christian Churches of Colombia
“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
The Mennonite Brethren Christian Churches in Colombia repudiate all forms of violence and social injustice. We stand against all barbaric acts committed against the state, and against private and public property. We also refuse to legitimize violence perpetrated by the police against citizens who protest. The use of violence should never be a valid form of pressure, no matter who uses it. We recognise that peaceful protest is a necessary and healthy part of any democracy, and as such, we urge and recommend our governors and related entities to come to a consensus through the use of dialogue. In this way, needed corrective action can be taken as follow-up to the issues that the protestors denounce. Our hearts are troubled and hurt by the tragic events and suffering that we have been witnessing unfold.
We unite in prayer for:
❖ the rebuilding of dialogue, peace and reconciliation.
❖ the restoration of trust in the authorities.
❖ the families who have lost loved ones.
❖ the youth, that they may have hope.
❖ respect for the lives of others.
❖ justice, truth and reparation.
❖ those involved, that they might return to their homes and their daily activities.
❖ the violent acts to cease, and that we may live in harmonious and just conditions.
From our congregations, we encourage more and more institutions, organizations and the population in general to respectfully come together and show solidarity.
We long for days of hope to return to Colombia in which social transformation, rooted in dialogue that favours peace can take place.
“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10)