We, Women in Black, meeting at the 16th International Gathering of Women in Black against War, which took place in Montevideo 19 – 24 August, with delegations attending from Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Chile, Congo, India, Israel, Italy, Guatemala, Great Britain, Palestine, Serbia, Spain, United States and Uruguay, wish to express our desire that in Colombia agreements for peace be achieved through the negotiations that are now taking place in Havana with one of the insurgent groups, FARC-EP; we hope that negotiations with the ELN will begin, seeking an outcome that will be less painful for a country that has been living through an armed conflict for half a century.
Our Encuentro (Gathering), attended by approximately 120 women, has been declared of national interest by the government of Uruguay and the Mayor of Montevideo declared Montevideo a “City of Peace” during the unfolding of our International Gathering.
The International Network of Women in Black against War (WnB) is an international network of women who are anti-military, feminist, and pacifists, and who advocate for a world where there are no wars or violence of any sort. The organization was begun in 1988 through an initiative of Israeli Jewish women, who came together to accomplish actions against the war that was being carried out by their government against the people of Palestine, choosing to dress in black – the color of mourning –, to remain silent with placards and posters in the shape of a hand that would speak for them. WnB denounce the shared responsibility of developed countries in all kinds of wars.
The Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres de Colombia is a member of the Women in Black and shares the struggle against war and the use of the bodies of women as booty of war in the framework of the armed conflict, and used as an instrument to humiliate, as a expression of scorn and disrespect and of power in dealing with the communities and especially the bodies of women. We have always given importance to the fact that respect for the rights of women who have been victims of violence should be included in the peace negotiations, taking into account the right to truth, justice, reparation and no repetition of atrocities, as declared in the international principles on the rights of victims of war and armed conflict.
We are activist women who promote and highlight the fundamental role of women against militarism, which in Colombia has spread the length and breadth of the country, impacting significantly the lives of women.
We are convinced that the use of war as an instrument to resolve conflicts is destructive for society, for the civil population and its communities and especially for women, because poverty and violence grow exponentially and life is characterized by fear, mourning and lack of liberty.
We ask that the government of Colombia and the FARC guerillas listen to our call to re-establish peace in the country and immediately begin work to make effective the rights of all, both men and women, to dignity and to life and that the demands of the women be included in the agreements reached.
For this reason, the organizations of women that have made an effort to achieve peace want to be parties to the negotiations, and we commit to utilize all our capabilities and accompaniment of the Network of Women in Black of the world to aid in building peace.
You can count on the Women in Black working for the goal to end the armed conflict in Colombia. For us, the heroes are those who surrender their weapons. In fact, we do not believe that the world needs heroes, rather the confluence of wisdom, interests and the capacity to create new visions, new agreements for the permanence and conservation of peace and of the planet, which today is in danger because of the patriarchy, capitalism, neo-liberalism, consumerism and the immense inequalities.
Montevideo, Uruguay, 24 August 2012