The final report of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition of Colombia was presented at the Parliament of Catalonia on 12 July.   It was a very emotional event, featuring victims of the Colombian conflict living in exile in Catalonia and followed by nearly 250 attendees.

The event, organized by ICIP in its capacity as Technical Secretariat of the Truth Commission in Europe, opened with music by Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez and the opening remarks of the president of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, who highlighted “the commitment of the Parliament and the whole of Catalan society to the cause of peace.”

ICIP director Kristian Herbolzheimer then called attention to the three years of collective work of the Truth Commission and ICIP, which now comes to an end with the presentation of the final report: “After decades of armed conflict, Colombia is now paradoxically the leading international model for peacebuilding, while in Europe, we are once again amid polarization, bloc confrontation and war,” he pointed out.  The ICIP director also urged Catalan institutions and associations to maintain a strong commitment to the victims and to peace in Colombia.

Recognition for victims of the conflictlicte

The institutional ceremony was conceived as recognition of victims of the Colombian conflict exiled in Catalonia and all the people who have worked for years to build peace in Colombia.  That is why the highlight was a conversation between Marta Liliana Ramírez, a victim of the conflict living in Catalonia who contributed her testimony to the Commission, and Helga Flamtermesky, an interviewer in the process of taking testimonies and member of the Catalonia Node in Support of the Commission.  During the conversation, Marta Liliana Ramírez, mother of a disappeared person, explained that giving testimony to the Truth Commission and feeling listened to has given her dignity.

The event also featured the participation of two members of the Truth Commission, Carlos Martín Beristain and Alejandro Valencia, who presented the main conclusions and recommendations of the final report, placing special emphasis on the chapter on exile: “Exile is oblivion; it is the consequence of many forms of violence.  And the report is a recognition of these ignored and invisible stories,” said Beristain.  The final report includes a series of recommendations to ensure a “more complete peace,” including reparation and dignification of the victims.

After their speeches, the two commissioners symbolically presented the report to Marta Liliana Ramírez and Dorys Ardila, a committee member for the follow-up of the Commission’s recommendations, who received it on behalf of all the victims in exile.

The documentary “Para volverte a ver,” produced by ICIP and Mandorla Films, was screened during the event.  The film narrates the contribution of the Colombian diaspora in Europe to the Commission’s work.  The documentary features four stories of life in exile, and two of its protagonists, Yanira Restrepo and Juana Sánchez-Ortega, were also present at the ceremony in the Parliament.

The ceremony ended with a performance by the musical trio Ensamble Ocasa which was met with big applause.

This event received support from Taula Catalana per la Pau i els Drets Humans a Colòmbia, the Catalonia Node and the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation.

The final report features 30,000 testimonies of the armed conflict

The Truth Commission of Colombia began its mandate in November 2018 to clarify the patterns and causes of human rights violations during the Colombian conflict, promoting the recognition of victims and contributing to coexistence.  The mandate will end this summer by disseminating the report in July and August.

The final report covers the events that took place in Colombia from 1958 to 2016 and are the result of a process of investigation and analysis based on a broad and pluralistic listening process that included victims, perpetrators, state security forces, businesspeople, ex-presidents, and other actors and sectors of civil society directly or indirectly related to the Colombian armed conflict.

The Commission has collected over 30,000 testimonies of the conflict, of which 2,000 are from exiles living in 24 different countries, including 800 in Europe and one hundred in Catalonia.

The Colombian armed conflict left a toll of nine million victims, of whom half a million were killed and 100,000 disappeared.  During the decades of conflict, one million people were forced to leave the country in search of protection.  Exile is almost always the last resort after other acts of violence.

Reception at the Palau de la Generalitat

On Tuesday, 12 July, the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Victòria Alsina, received Commissioners Carlos Martin Beristian and Alejandro Valencia at a meeting at the Palau de la Generalitat. The reception was also attended by the President and Director of the ICIP, Xavier Masllorens and Kristian Herbolzheimer, respectively; Marta Liliana Ramírez, a victim of the Colombian conflict exiled in Catalonia; and Dorys Ardila, a member of the committee following up on the recommendations of the Commission’s final report.

During the meeting, President Aragonès stressed the pride in “the support of the institutions and social movements of Catalonia to the peace process in Colombia”. They highlighted the work of the ICIP as the Technical Secretariat of the Truth Commission in Europe.

For her part, Minister Alsina reaffirmed the Government’s commitment so that Colombia “continues to be a priority country for Catalan cooperation, as it has historically been”.