Luis Eduardo Guerra, the well-known leader of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community in Antioquia, Colombia, and seven other people, among them women and children, were murdered between the 21st and 22nd of February.
Luis Eduardo was one of the community leaders most admired for the clarity and consistency of his ideas and his total commitment to peace and human rights despite systematic death threats against him. He represented the peace community in numerous meetings with the Colombian government and state agencies, the diplomatic corps accredited in Colombia, and national and international organisations. He met politicians, journalists and solidarity committees during his tours in countries such as Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States.
According to eyewitnesses, on February 21, Luis Eduardo Guerra, his son, his partner and another person were detained by armed men in uniform who identified themselves as belonging to the 11th Army Brigade. They were then taken to a farm. Luis Eduardo Guerra, Alfonso Bolívar and their families were not seen again. Traces of blood and human remains were discovered the next day in the farm. When the Internal Council of the San José de Apartadó Peace Community received this information, it immediately requested that the relevant state agencies investigate these occurrences. On February 25, the Peace Community organised a fact-finding commission and invited state agencies and national and international NGOs to take part.
The judicial commission carried out the exhumation of a grave on the farm where the mutilated bodies of three adults were found in addition to the bodies of two children aged six and two. Later in the day, three more bodies were found (two adults and a boy of eleven). Members of the community recognised them as those of Luis Eduardo Guerra and his family. The body of Luis Eduardo Guerra bore signs of torture.
This massacre joins the list of constant attacks the San José de Apartadó Peace Community has faced since it was founded in 1997, resulting in more than 130 murders for which as yet no one has been convicted.
It is disturbing that a community of such international renown, the recipient of provisional protection from the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, and for which the Colombian Constitutional Court also requested effective protective measures in March 2004, should endure an attack of such cruelty and the loss of one of its historic leaders.
LRWC signed the Public Statement made by Peach Bridges International