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Preserving Memory and Pursuing Justice

Some have been forced from their homes in waves of mass displacement. Others have lost family members to decades of violence. And others still have suffered sexual violence in the context of armed conflict. Though their stories may differ, they are all here for a shared purpose: a tireless pursuit for peace and justice.

Women from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks
Our sisters from Guatemala leading a ceremony of thanks to start the transitional justice conference.

Over 30 women from Colombia and Guatemala have been brought together for a MADRE-organized, two day transitional justice conference in Bogotá. The courageous women have gathered to share their stories of survival in the context of the human rights abuses suffered during the armed conflicts in both countries. It will be a chance for these women to reflect on their experiences in a safe space, discuss the challenges they’ve faced in their pursuits for justice, learn from each other as they move forward, and benefit from a community of support.

This morning, we listened to the women share strategies for preserving their historical memories, an important process for building peace. As Magdalena Ceto from Centre for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) shared with the group, “Our memory is something that cannot be erased.” Preserving their memories, the memories of their ancestors and communities is a powerful tool for seeking justice. It promises that their struggles will not be forgotten. And it drives us all forward in our shared commitment to peace and justice.

These women have been inspiring to listen to and to learn from. I’m motivated by their dedication to justice and to human rights for all. And I can’t wait to share more updates with you as the conference continues!