‘Suicide’ of human rights defender Angélica Bello doubted by many
The men who kidnapped and sexually assaulted Angélica Bello said they would´t kill her. They didn´t want to make her a hero.
They failed miserably.
Before her purported Feb. 16 suicide, she was a giant: A defender of human rights, especially the rights of Colombian women to exist without sexual violence, which in Colombia is often politically motivated sexual violence.
Police say she lifted her bodyguard´s handgun and shot herself in the head.
That´s a claim some Colombians have difficulty accepting.
Her life story reads like a movie, a terrifying movie. But always, she was the hero who fought back for herself and others.
* She was a survivor of the campaign of genocide against members of the leftist Unión Patriótica political party which had thousands of members assassinated in the 1980s.
* She secured the freedom of her two daughters, aged nine and 14, who were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by paramilitaries in 2000.
* She was twice forced to flee her home as a refugee, because of political violence.
* In response to her displacement, she became an activist for the displaced.
* For that activism she was attacked in 2001 and left with a disability that affected one of her legs.
* In response to sexual violence, she created a national organization to protect the rights of women in 2006, the National Foundation in the Defence of Women´s Rights.
* She was kidnapped by two men and sexually assaulted while leaving the Ministry of Interior and Justice building in Bogotá in 2009. They were the ones who told her to stop her activism, and that her assault was because she should have kept her mouth shut.
Two versions of her death are related in a column published in Colombia’s national daily newspaper El Espectador, written by the director of the Colombian Commission of Jurists director Gustavo Gallón.
The chief of police in the municipality of Codazzi on the Venezuelan border supports the version that her death was a suicide.
The other version is that this defender of human rights had not lost her powerful will to survive and help others, especially since only days earlier her sixth grandchild had been born.
Gallón ends his column with a question.
“¿Usted qué cree?”
“Who do you believe?”￼
The national ombudsman´s office and human rights groups across Colombia are demanding an immediate autopsy.
To read an English-language account of the death of Angélica Bello, please follow this link:
Para leer la columna de Gustavo Gallón: