Academic journal article Social Justice

The Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia

Academic journal article Social Justice

The Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia

Article excerpt

TODAY, I WOULD LIKE TO CHOOSE MY BEST FEELINGS AND MY BEST WORDS To SEND to all the children of the world my message of peace, since my youthful ness and my heart -- which is still that of a child -- belong to one who knows war, but who loves peace over everything.

I come from Colombia, but I could also say that I come from Yugoslavia, Angola, Somalia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, or Amsterdam 45 years ago. Unfortunately, all these places are famous not because of friendly people or their wonderful natural resources, but because of war and violence. Two days ago I visited the home of Anne Frank in Amsterdam. I remembered her words and her suffering. She was 15 years old when she lived in the war and today many children suffer as she did.

I live in Uraba, one of the most violent areas in Colombia and the world. Like Anne Frank, I was 15 years old when Mrs. Graca Machel came to our town because she was preparing a study on the impact of armed conflict on children. I listened to her again in December 1996 at the United Nations in New York when she said that "the Worst thing that can happen is for a society to accept violence against children as a normality." For the children of the Movement for Peace in Colombia, her visit and her words have always been with us and inspired us.

This is the reason 2,700,000 Colombian girls and boys voted in November 1996 for the Right to Peace and for all of our rights. Following this unprecedented example, 10 million adults -- our parents, teachers, and neighbors -- voted one year later in the Citizens Mandate for Peace, Life, and Liberty. In this Mandato Ciudadano, the people of Colombia demanded that the actors in the armed conflict stop involving children in the war, and end the use of torture, threats, kidnapping, massacres, and the displacement of the civilian population from their homes.

All these actions impressed our good friend Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1996, and who believes that we children are also part of this group of dreamers who fight to build a better world, one that is worthier and happier and in which boys and girls are the greatest treasure.

Our example of mobilization in 1996 unchained the current process of peace that is developing in Colombia. For that reason, I am convinced that today, the nations of the world have in their hands a great tool -- the opportunity of allowing children to participate actively in all matters that especially affect us. …

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