*warning* there might be triggers for some of you. Please be careful. Death & Violence
My mother was murdered. Shot in the head.
My father was murdered. Shot in the head.
There have been many times when I wished I had been shot in the head too.
Is that the fate that awaits my son?
Remember, I am not be fatalist here. He HAS BEEN threatened.
Let’s look at the facts. Homicide is still the leading cause of violent death in Colombia. According the a report released by the Geneva Declaration in October 2011, Colombia is the fifth most dangerous country in the world. A report published by the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, through its National Reference Center on Violence, states that the homicide was [still] the leading cause of violent deaths in Colombia during 2011.
By 2000, it was estimated that there were 71 homicides PER DAY. Not per year, not per month. PER DAY. I wasn’t able to find more recent statistics but methinks it hasn’t changed that much.
“Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights activists” says Human Rights First, a non-profit founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights to promote laws and policies that advance universal rights and freedoms.
The following societal problems and governmental human rights abuses were reported during the year: unlawful and extrajudicial killings; insubordinate military collaboration with new illegal armed groups and paramilitary members who refused to demobilize; forced disappearances; torture and mistreatment of detainees; overcrowded and insecure prisons; arbitrary detentions; impunity and an inefficient judiciary subject to intimidation; illegal surveillance of civilian groups, political opponents, and government agencies; occasional harassment and intimidation of journalists; unhygienic conditions at settlements for displaced persons, with limited access to health care, education, or employment; corruption; harassment of human rights groups and activists, including unfounded prosecutions; violence against women, including rape; violence against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons based on sexual orientation; child abuse and child prostitution; trafficking in women and children for the purpose of sexual exploitation; some societal discrimination against women, indigenous persons, and Afro-Colombians; and illegal child labor.
Emphasis is mine. Not because the others are not important but because those are the ones that could happen to my son.
The following is an excerpt from Amnesty International’s Colombia Human Rights page.
Colombia has a host of active community leaders, peace activists and human rights defenders who are bravely working toward a peaceful end to the conflict. These individuals face constant threats and have been subject to torture and murder, , and many have been forced to leave the country.
13 unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia were killed in the first three months of 2012 and 64 “acts of aggression” were carried out in the same period, According to Lisa Haugaard of the Latin America Working Group in a report for a U.S. congressional committee for the advocacy of human rights. Illegal surveillance of human right defenders by official agencies – even though more notorious during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe when it was carried out under the now-defunct Colombian intelligence agency DAS, is still in practice.
I could keep quoting till the end of time. But the bottom line is that human rights are non-existent in Colombia. So I’m not over-reacting here.
I am not going through a morbid spell, making things up in my mind. My son IS under illegal surveillance. He HAS received several threatening calls.
So far, his Canadian Citizenship has protected him. I truly believe that’s the only reason a forced disappearance hasn’t been brought upon him.
But how easy would it be to press bogus charges against him?
Human rights defenders in Colombia are frequently subjected to spurious criminal charges such as rebellion, alleging that they are members of guerilla organizations, or slander and libel for exposing human rights violations. These charges are often politically motivated and seek to discredit and stigmatize human rights defenders, thereby deterring them from performing their important work.
My son believes in changing the world. He believes that everybody deserves to have food on their table, a roof over their heads, an education, a job, a life without fear, the right to free speech, and freedom of religion and ideology. And he’s willing to risk his life to defend those basic human rights.
But what does that mean for me as his mother? Sure I am proud of him.
I wish him a long and productive life. A happy one. Alas, that will never be. He will never be happy when so many others are suffering.
Am I selfish for not wanting that his fate be the same one as that of my mother? As that of my father?
Is there a bullet with my son’s name in it?