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Emergency Vigil for Peace and Social Justice in Colombia: Thursday 4pm

Alan | 15.11.2006 21:45 | Social Struggles | London


Emergency Vigil for Peace and Social Justice in Colombia
Thursday 16 November 2006, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

A generation of Colombian activists and leaders who have stood up to neo-liberal policies face being silenced through assassination or detention.

Friends who have visited Britain over the last six years seeking international solidarity for their fights against privatisation and for social justice are being targeted for reprisals. There are signs of co-ordination between the supposedly demobilised right-wing AUC paramilitary death squads, the military and the very state authorities charged with protecting citizens’ rights. Already 6,332 people have been deprived of their liberty in the last three years.

Teachers and trade unionists Samuel Morales and Raquel Castro have been in prison since 4 August 2004 when they witnessed the assassination of three colleagues in Arauca by the army. They have been charged with rebellion and terrorism, but at the point of decision the judge hearing their case resigned. They are still detained, victims of unknown delay.

The National Attorney General has a report (file no “FGN CTI SIA 358 and 359”) signed by its own CTI unit and by the Third Army Brigade in which 13 social leaders, trade unionists, political opposition leaders and human rights defenders from Cali, Cauca Valley are similarly falsely charged with rebellion and terrorism. The military is pressing for the capture and detention of Berenice Celeyta, President of NOMADESC, Alexander Lopez Maya, ex-leader of SINTRAEMCALI and Senator of the Polo Democrático Alternativo; Carlos Gonzalez, prominent member of university workers union SINTRAUNICOL; Luis Hernandez, Ex-President of SINTRAEMCALI, Martha Aschuntar, organiser the Committee for the Defence of Political Prisoners and several sacked SINTRAEMCALI workers. This attempted frame-up by the military continues their notorious Operation Dragon, exposed internationally two years ago.

Apart from the serious and false allegations against each of the leaders, the latest report contains their personal data including addresses, phone numbers; family names; children; time of leaving home and transport routes.

Juan Carlos Galvis, President of the CUT in Barrancabermeja and Vice-President of SINALTRAINAL, the union leading the international boycott of Coca Cola, has been told that Interior Ministry funding and authorisation for his bodyguards will be removed. This occurs when he and all CUT trade unionists in the region have received a public threat from the supposedly demobilised paramilitary group ‘AUC Central Bolivar Block’ to “locate, exterminate, disappear and do away” with them.

Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, President of mining union INTRAMINERCOL, has survived several assassination attempts. He too has been informed that his protection scheme decreed by the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights will soon be cancelled. Other trade unionists who had their protection withdrawn were murdered days afterwards. This latest move follows action taken by Francisco against US mining company Drummond and his opposition to the liquidation of state mining corporation Minercol Ltda.

Julian Hurtado was assassinated by two hit-men in Cali on 4 October. He was a member of the truth commission investigating the murder of fellow student Jhonny Silva in September 2005. Despite ample evidence that Jhonny was shot dead by the riot police, this case remains in complete impunity. Several members of the Truth Commission - an alternative legal process convened to investigate Jhonny’s murder in the absence of the state bringing his killers to justice - have received threats and intimidation.

These cases show the price of opposition in Colombia. Each one of them has touched our hearts and sharpened our minds. Let us show the Colombian government that state terror and repression will not be forgotten, nor forgiven.

Let us stand in solidarity with our Colombian friends. Join us on the Vigil.

Location: Colombian Embassy, 3 Hans Crescent, London SW1 (back of Harrods, nearest tube Knightsbridge)
Contact: Andy Higginbottom


Colombian Indigenous Leader Luis Evelis Speaks Out
Thursday 16 November 2006, 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Luis Evelis Andrade is a member of the Indigenous Embera People of Colombia and is current President of ONIC, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia.

Indigenous Peoples in Colombia are in the process of reclaiming some of the territory that has been illegally seized from them over the past century and a half. They are organizing to protect their languages, cultures and authority over their own lands. Those lands are often coveted by multinational corporations involved in the oil, mining, timber and palm oil industries. Indigenous communities are caught in the crossfire of an armed conflict in which they do not wish to be involved.

They are calling for the army, police, paramilitaries, guerrillas and all other armed groups to leave Indigenous territories and respect Indigenous control of Indigenous land. Luis Evelis is on Britain for one week and will be speaking about the Indigenous struggle to Reclaim Mother Earth.

Organised by Colombia Solidarity Campaign, all welcome.

Location: Union Tavern, 52, Lloyd Baker St, WC1 (nearest tubes Kings Cross, Russell Square, Farringdon, Angel)
Contact: Andy Higginbottom