Sunday, 19 September 2021
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    'NO MAS/No more', Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)
    'NO MAS/No more', Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján. (Photo: Martin Melaugh)


    Title of Textile:NO MAS / No more
    Maker: Mujeres tejiendo sueños y sabores de paz, Mampuján
    Country of Origin: Colombia
    Year Produced: 2013
    Size (cm): 44cm X 55cm
    Materials: Scraps of material hand sewn onto burlap
    Type of Textile: Arpillera

    On 11 March 2000, a brutal massacre was carried out in the town of Mampuján, in northwest Colombia by the now demobilised United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), a coalition of right-wing, counter-insurgency paramilitary groups which was alleged to have links to the military and members of government and congress. Twelve people were killed, from nearby Las Brisas, and more than 1,400 civilians were displaced. Initially scattered, about half of the group settled in 2002 in Mampuján Nuevo, on small plots of land about eight kilometres away from their old community.

    Violence against communities in Colombia is not a recent phenomenon. Over the last thirty years more than 4.8million people have been forced to flee from their homes to escape violence, earning Colombia the unenviable title of having the world’s largest population of Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

    In 2011, the Victim and Land Restitution law (Victims law), enacted by the Santos government established a judicial process to return stolen and abandoned land to IDPs. On 27 June 2013, as part of this restitution programme, those displaced by the Mampuján massacre had their land rights officially restored, permitting them to return to their original land.

    This arpillera, made by a group of 15 Mampuján women, envisions their return eight years later to a community free from violence. The central figure clad in white, with his broken rifle and military apparel thrown aside is a powerful symbol of peace. Open mouthed and with raised hands he gazes upwards declaring: “NO MAS – I will not do it any more.” In the night sky, the white dove of peace, framed by the moon is clearly visible, whilst in the foreground we see crops growing, testimony to a return to peaceful stability for this community. The houses depicted in the vibrant colours of the Afro Colombian people further reminds us that life has returned to normal.

    In reality the process of returning is ongoing and not without its challenges. In the words of one of the arpilleristas: “There is fear and uncertainty on the side of the victim.” Such fear is not unfounded. A report by Human Rights Watch (2013) states that since January 2012, more than 500 land restitution claimants and leaders have reported being threatened and that crimes targeting IDPs for their restitution efforts almost always go unpunished.

    For the peaceful society envisioned in this arpillera to become a reality, it is imperative that prosecutors work with land restitution authorities to vigorously pursue crimes against claimants in the areas where restitution is being implemented.

    Owner: Conflict Textiles collection
    Location: Roberta Bacic, Northern Ireland
    Original / Replica: Original
    Photographer: Martin Melaugh

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