The following communiqué was released by the Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace of Antioquia, in response to the ELN kidnapping of over 100 civilians from a Cali church on May 30.
The Permanent Assembly of Civil Society for Peace of Antioquia, in response to the kidnapping committed yesterday, of more than 100 people who were attending a religious ceremony in the city of Cali, which has been attributed to an armed commando of the ELN, expresses its categorical rejection of this new act against civilians, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.
The civilian population cannot continue to be a military target nor the means by which an armed group seeks to call the attention of the national government or of sectors considered privileged.
We believe that acts such as this block the possibility of generating a climate propitious for initiatives to bring the parties in conflict together to seek a negotiated settlement to the conflict, compound the hatreds, and cause profound pain to the victims of these atrocities and their next-of-kin.
We call on the national government to establish clear channels for the participation of civil society in the peace processes, to hold conversations with the various armed actors on an equitable basis and without discrimination, and that it design and implement a permanent policy of peace and set the Consejo Nacional de Paz in motion, as necessary elements for getting past this long night of violence and barbarity in which Colombia has been submerged.
Finally, we call on the armed groups to cease any and all armed actions as a display of their good faith in the search for peace.
Medellín, May 31, 1999
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