As I was watching a video called “Colombian Churches Call for Peace” in Peace Media I started to think about my childhood.
It was the year 2001. I was in sixth grade and reading about the Holocaust history and about concentration camps. The idea terrified me and made me want to hide under my blankets. It terrified me because when I was reading these atrocities committed by human kind my country, Colombia, was in the middle of a war. Bombs were exploding everywhere, and my family and me were forced to stay in the city, the only safe place.
As I read the atrocities committed by the Nazis during World War II I was facing the deep reality of war and I was afraid that the Guerrillas and Paramilitaries would do the same to me. As a matter of fact, the newspapers were publicizing the idea that the hostages taken by the FARC were being treated in the same manner in which the Nazis treated the Jewish during the Holocaust. My paranoia went so deep that I told my mother “mom, if I ever get kidnapped I want to kill myself, I don´t want to be held like in the concentration camps.” Luckily, I was never kidnapped.
As I grew up and started to understand the complexity of my country´s conflict I understood that Colombia was nothing like the Holocaust, and that the acts perpetrated by the Colombian armed parties are really different from the ones performed by the Nazis. Yet, this does not mean that the acts perpetrated by the Colombian armed groups are not atrocious because I can tell you they are horrifying. For the pass 70 years we have been debauching our citizens we have been killing each other, we have been perpetrating violence against innocent people (who are sometimes not so innocent, but who are still human beings), 489,687 women have been raped in 8 years, and we do not seem ready to stop this violence.
11 years have passed since I felt that my country was headed towards Holocaust, and we still have not been able to resolve our ongoing conflict. As I read the newspaper today, an article of my home town came up showing how in the poor neighborhoods kids are not being able to go to school because gang members are murdering them. Those kids are probably reading about the Holocaust, and having similar reactions to the one I had.
The violence in those neighborhoods has a lot to do (in my personal opinion) with a failure to properly reinsert and reorganize previous demobilized combatants, with an ongoing war on drugs that keeps on feeding the country´s conflict and that has a murderous impact on local populations, and with the lack of commitment to peace presented by all warring parties. Kids do not have anything to do with violence, yet warring parties do not show any respect for them.
Today, as we seat through a peace process with the FARC (one of the many armed groups in Colombia) I continue to hear belligerent speeches from both the FARC and the government. As they talk about peace they both continue to do war and this is simply reproachable. As a civilian who does not want her kids to think that they are going to be kidnapped and incinerated in concentration camps I urge both the Government and the FARC to take this peace process seriously and to make sure that combatants are properly reinserted, and to help in the reinsertion of previously demobilized men and women. I, as a Colombian demand peace and have to quite frankly say that: I AM TIRED OF WAR! Solve your issues in other manners but keep civilians away from your conflict and understand that your decisions in the negotiating table affect our lives.