Women’s Rights Activist and Family Massacred in Colombia
News from Colombia |
on: Friday, 26 September 2008
A leading women's rights campaigner has been gunned down in her home in the Colombian city of Medellin along with her son and daughter-in-law and her five-year-old grandson. In a strange outburst shortly after the killings, which occurred on the evening of September 24th, regional police commander, General Dagoberto Garcia, rejected the possibility that the massacre was linked to her campaigning activities and claimed that it was more likely "a settling of accounts or a personal vendetta."
Olga Marina Vergara (55) was a senior member of the Colombian NGO 'Women's Route Towards Peace' (Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres) and, according to a press statement issued by the organisation yesterday, was a committed feminist and pacifist who had worked to promote women's rights in Medellin for many years. Among other backers, the organisation receives support from the British charity Oxfam.
Ms Vergara was killed by unidentified individuals along with her son Wilmar Alejandro Agudelo, his wife Yudy Andrea Alvarez, and their young son. However, despite regular assassinations of civil society activists in Colombia the authorities immediately discounted the possibility that the murders could have been related to Ms Vergara's NGO work.
Marina Gallego Zapata, the leader of 'Women's Route Towards Peace' called on the authorities to open a serious investigation into the death saying that "these murders and this massacre are unacceptable". She also pointed out that the killings occurred the same evening that the NGO was launching a new book in the Colombian capital Bogota entitled "Violence Against Women in a Society at War".
To date no information on the identity of the perpetrators has come to light.