The evening of the 7th October 1996, you say goodbye to your 19 year old daughter who leaves with a friend for the evening whilst you look after her daughter, your granddaughter, the baby who will grow up without a mother.
The morning of the 8th October, you receive news that four people have been killed in a municipality a few hours from where you live. Four people supposedly linked to the guerrilla, dressed in guerrilla uniforms, carrying guns. One of the victims is your daughter.
18 years later, hours, days, weeks going over the facts in your mind, going crazy remembering every detail of your daughter´s life, each moment, memory, her smile, her hugs, her potential.
“She was never part of any armed group, she was always with me, with her family, part of the rural workers movement, fighting for her right to work her own land. Why did they do it? What did my daughter do to deserve such an unfair fate?”
And the perpetrators? Where´s the justice? Who really cares about Colombian lives, victims of violence, injustice and impunity?
Unfortunately many of these questions remain unanswered for mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in Colombia. Judicial processes for extrajudicial killings last years and it seems achieving real justice is rare.
But justice has many faces. One of them is “the act of memory” that brings a certain peace to families and friends of victims of injustice by giving them space to remember their lost loved ones.
A simple, humble act of laying a plaque commemorating the unfairly lost lives is a way of showing that their lives will never be forgotten, that their unfair deaths will never be justified in the name of war and that their memory and story lives on, and continues to live for years to come.
PBI had the privilege of accompanying Father Alberto Franco from the Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission who facilitated this memorial event for the families of Gilma Yaneth Pineda Metaute and Manuel Humberto Mesa Lopera.
On the plaque the following words were written;
When love is killed,
forgetting is unforgivable
and justice is priority.