Colombian authorities are facing growing calls to investigate a botched army raid in which four civilians, including a 16-year-old boy, a pregnant woman, and an indigenous leader, were killed.
The raid took place early on March 28th in a remote village in the conflict-racked southern province of Putumayo. It was intended to target the dissident guerrillas from the now-defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Farc who are now involved in the cocaine trade.
The mission left 11 dead, including the civilians, in circumstances that remain unresolved in mystery. Witnesses and local journalists have said that the victims bodies and the scene of the killings appear to have been tampered with, adding to the suspicion.
Colombia's army has been accused of killing civilians and vehemently denied any wrongdoing, characterizing the raid as a legal operation to take out violent terrorists.
Juan Pappier, an investigator with Human Rights Watch, said that there was solid evidence that at least four of the killed were civilians.
The ministry of defense's explanation has serious errors and inconsistencies. A thorough, credible and impartial investigation by civilian justice authorities is urgently needed. Pain was further piled onto a traumatized nation when Eduardo Zapateiro, general commandant of Colombia's army, said on Monday that it is not the first operation in which pregnant women or underage combatants fall. Condemnation of the callous remarks was swift.
Katherine Miranda, a councilwoman for Bogot All deaths, said the lack of humanity of those who govern us is a Colombian disgrace. Only a few are more equal than others. Many Colombians were reminded of similar remarks made by Defense Minister Diego Molano, who described child soldiers killed in an air strike as machines of war. On Tuesday, calls for his resignation surfaced on social media while lawmakers called for a motion to censure the minister.
Colombia's army has a history of human rights abuses in its war against the Farc, which was formally demobilised in 2016. The war, which spanned five decades, left 260,000 dead and 7 million people displaced. State-aligned guerrilla groups and other leftist guerrilla groups contributed to the bloodshed.
In one of the most chilling episodes of the war known as the false positives scandal, the army abducted and murdered at least 6,402 civilians before dressing them in rebel fatigues and declaring them combat kills in order to boost stats and justify US military aid. The soldiers who were involved were rewarded with promotions and time off.
Critics say that the Colombian army's tactics against the dissident rebels in Putumayo prove that the army's atrocities are not limited to the past.
Iv n Cepeda, an opposition senator who has investigated Colombia's military, said that the army believes that if it violates human rights, it is valid as long as operational results can be obtained against terrorism. The doctrine has been the source of thousands of human rights violations in Colombia, which continue to be perpetrated. President Iv n Duque was in New York on Tuesday afternoon, as the scandal dominated news cycles in Colombia. He spoke to the UN Security Council about peace-building efforts.
His claim before the council that Colombia is a country that embraces the substantive principles of peace, drew incredulity back home.
In Colombia, there are very serious problems in terms of peace and human rights, which is why Duque lies to the international community, according to Cepeda. He goes to the UN to lie about his record on peace.