The Inter-Ecclesial Dialogue for Peace -DiPaz- intervened in the plenary of the Senate of the Republic on the 29th of November, 2016, on the occasion of the debates that are carried out in the Congress and that seek the endorsement of the agreements of Havana between the National Government and the FARC- EP. The intervention of DiPaz in the framework of the debate of endorsement is represented in Jenny Neme, director of Justapaz.
Describing the role of the churches in peacebuilding in Colombia, Mrs. Neme said that “our vocation for peace has led us to have a call to be on the side of the victims. Several of us churches and ecclesial organizations have done a serious job of documenting human rights violations against church people and committed by all armed actors including the security forces. An important work has been done in psycho-pastoral care, emergency care and legal support. Entrepreneurship and economic development initiatives have been developed. It is 60 years where we have witnessed the reality of the armed conflict in different parts of the country for this possibility of walking with our brothers and sisters who suffer in the territories and because we have also been victims.
In the midst of the rigor of armed conflict, churches in different parts of the country have independently developed initiatives for peace, generating hope in their communities. And we do not just walk with the victims. We have also walked with those responsible for crimes and victimizations. We have witnessed how restorative measures allow us to advance in the recognition of the truth of what happened, to assume responsibilities, to ask for forgiveness and to take measures of non-repetition. There are experiences in prisons and there are already experiences in community spaces where ex-combatants, victims and people not affected by the armed conflict live and work for their personal and social recovery. And the church has played a role of facilitator of restorative processes that are not easy. On the contrary, they have a high level of personal, community and ecclesial exigency.
The director of Justapaz also described the role of the Intereclesial Dialogue for Peace in the midst of the Peace Dialogues in Havana. “In 2012, announcing the beginning of the process of Conversations whose purpose was to contribute to the "ending of the armed conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace", we grouped several churches and ecclesial organizations and issued several communiqués greeting this important step. In these four years we have reiterated our support for the talks. We urge them not to get up from the table because of more tensions and difficulties that they experienced. We demand a bilateral cessation. We denounce serious acts against the civilian population. We participate in the various thematic forums convened by the Bureau. We carried out a citizen's denunciation to the unilateral ceasefire established by the FARC and the de-escalation measures by the army. At the same time we held peace events, pedagogy for peace and agreements, we went out to the streets to cry for peace, we mobilized our sisters and brothers from churches in other countries to support the process and results, with the firm Conviction that it is the moment that God has ready for a transformed Colombia.”
Regarding the approval and implementation of the New Peace Accords, Mrs. Neme stated that “We can spend all our time reviewing an agreement, but everything has its time and it is time to implement what has been agreed upon. History and facts will serve to readjust what is necessary, but it is time to advance. We value what has been achieved so far. We urge you not to continue to risk what has been achieved. We recognize that it is not a perfect agreement, but it is what exists and should proceed with it.
As churches we do not renounce our vocation for peace and continue our work, because our call and vocation goes beyond a particular process like this. We will not give up working and demanding because the different actors of society contribute to truth, justice and reparation, including the responsibility of actors in the religious sector and those who have responsibility for the armed conflict and different forms of violence. We will not fail to draw attention to the importance of restorative justice as a serious and demanding mechanism that must be considered in order to have true processes of personal and social transformation. We do not admit to being despised and less than when generously and voluntarily communities of victims and ecclesial organizations have offered our spaces, experience and vocation to advance in processes of healthy coexistence with those who have hurt us.”
On her last remarks to the Senate, Jenny Neme confronted the senators of Colombia to “show greatness or show smallness. What has come to your hands is not a simple document with good proposals, regular or bad. What you have in your hands to study and decide is nothing less than the future of Colombia, to continue seeking peace in the midst of war or to build peace amid the differences. We are tired of violence. We do not want a cheap peace where more pride and arrogance can lead to fragile conditions that will make democracy and coexistence in the country unviable.”
By Jenny Neme, JUSTAPAZ
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