- Calls for dismantling of repressive machinery, guarantees for right to peaceful protest
THE African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) on Thursday raised a strong voice in condemnation of what it described as brutal state repression by the Colombian government against Colombian trade union activists and people who came out to exercise their right to freedom of expression against the tax reform bill and other anti-social policies of the government.
In a letter addressed to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Mr Ivan Duque Marquez, dated May 6, 2021 and captioned: “Urgent Action: Brutal repression against protestors in Colombia,” Comrade Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of ITUC-Africa, stated that information available to the organisation indicate that there is a prevailing vicious military escalation in which state repressive agencies are intimidating, persecuting, repressing and injuring as well as murdering not only union leaders but also the people of Colombia in general.
According to Adu-Amankwah, reports from different human rights organisations have confirmed that already, the ongoing repression has visited on unions and the people of Colombia more than 1,089 cases of violence, 726 arbitrary detentions, with 28 protesters killed, 234 wounded, 5 demonstrators disappeared, 12 people with ocular mutilation and rape of 6 women, all of which were orchestrated by repressive agencies such as the National Police and the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) along with social cleansing groups and plainclothes police officers with the help of the army.
While noting that the protests have yielded dividends as the government has announced the withdrawal of the tax reform bill, Adu-Amankwah however told President Marquez in the letter that this triumph by the protesters “does not satisfy the demands of the Colombian people, because since then your government has proposed the immediate presentation of another bill, through methods that are still unclear.”
Comrade Adu-Amankwah stated that it is against this background that ITUC-Africa has thrown its weight behind the “continuity of the strike and peaceful mobilizations in line with the decisions of the National Strike Committee (Comité Nacional del Paro) and multiple social organizations that accompany it.”
ITUC-Africa said in furtherance of its support for the protests, it calls on President Marquez to acceded to the legitimate demands of the Colombian people for the demilitarisation of the urban areas and cities; the dismantling of ESMAD; the punishment of those responsible for the brutal repression against the demonstrations; guarantees for the right of peaceful protest, and start negotiations over the Unified Emergency Plan with the National Strike Committee.
Follow the link to read the letter : ITUC-Africa Protest Letter Against State Repression in Colombia