An unexpected blessing awaited us yesterday evening when we decided to cross the street to see the artisan fair in the Plaza de la Paz.
A youth network from the southern part of town had organized a theatrical protest. When we arrived, the majority of them were standing as a backdrop in silent rows, wearing white t-shirts that read “Nunca más (Never again)” and “Que ser falso no sea positivo (May being false never be positive).” In the foreground were several youth, some in civilian dress who were enacting their deaths and others in black representing the armed soldiers who had murdered them. Loved ones emerged, carrying flowers and weeping over the motionless bodies. They drew chalk outlines around the dead, and there was a heavy silence as we all kept watch. Finally a shout of horror broke the silence, and the rows of young people cried out with emotional voices: “NUNCA MAS!”
They were crying out against the newest outrage here in Colombia: “false positives,” or murdered civilians passed off as eliminated guerrilla targets. Incentives offered to soldiers for killing guerrillas have evidently stimulated this appalling practice. Public outrage is not limited to the human rights community, but also evident in the main news outlets, and was made quite palpable by these committed youth in the Peace Plaza last night.
Their flier announced that they were acting in support of life, that most precious right, creating a “monument for dignity and memory” as a symbolic action to say “Never again!” to assassinations, disappearances, and impunity.
At the end of this “ephemeral theatre” they set out white cinderblock tombstones, with pens available to write the names of people who had been unjustly killed in this way. They lay down flowers and lit candles, and embraced one another and the supporters who had gathered. It was a rich blessing to find ourselves there at precisely the moment to share in this profoundly prayerful act of protest. May God guide us in seeking justice, give us courage along the way to face our fears with love, and help us always to see others as precious beings.