People take part in a demo against the murder of social leaders in Bogota, Colombia, on Friday. Juan Barreto/AFP
Thousands rallied across Colombia Friday to protest the killing of hundreds of human rights activists since the signing of a historic peace deal with FARC guerrillas.
Demonstrators gathered in major cities under the slogan "defending the peace" to denounce the deaths. 462 campaigners have been killed since 2016, according to the country's ombudsman.
"They are killing us but seeds of life and dignity are being born," Luis Acosta said as he walked toward Bolivar square in the capital Bogota, which was packed with protesters.
Colombian president Ivan Duque joined a rally in the port city of Cartagena but was jeered by parts of the crowd, videos posted on social networks showed.
"Today we are united in a fight against violence and drug trafficking, which has fueled the organized armed groups that have attacked social leaders in the country," Duque said earlier.
The rallies were called after the killing of activist Maria del Pilar Hurtado last month, in northern Colombia. A video of her son crying next to her body was widely shared in the country.
Some protesters carried banners of FARC, the former guerilla group, who signed a 2016 peace deal with authorities that ended half a century of armed conflict and established them as a left-wing political party.
The group has criticized the lack of security guarantees for its members after the signing of the pact and said 140 ex-guerrillas and 31 relatives have since been killed.
Armed drug-trafficking groups, National Liberation Army rebels, and the armed forces are mostly responsible for the deaths, prosecutors said.
The "Justice First" marches were called by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which has been spearheading the protests since December.
The protests followed an announcement before dawn on Tuesday by the election commission confirming that President Joko Widodo had beaten his challenger, former general Prabowo Subianto, in the April 17 poll.
The latest developments came as the prosecutor general's office said ousted president Omar Al Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month.
In a tumultuous year marked by economic and social upheavals worldwide as nations battled the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and compounded by tragic disasters such as the Beirut port blasts and several natural calamities including devastating floods in Sudan
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Improving technology and digitalisation have sure contributed to the coping of countries and governments with the one-year-old Novel Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, the most compelling realisation is that health is the key to happiness, dependent on one’s attitude and perspective in life; and for which each and every individual must be responsible for.