October 15th is the Day of Solidarity with Colombia’s more than 7,500 Political Prisoners. In Colombia, the movement for the freedom of political prisoners is closely tied to efforts to end the civil war and begin a legitimate peace process. It is widely held that a first step toward dialogue for peace will begin with a humanitarian exchange of prisoners of war, and freedom for all political prisoners. Right now, there are signs both hopeful and worrisome. Both guerrillas and the government have spoken of possibilities for such an exchange and the commencement of negotiations. At the same time, there has been an increase in war violence and assassinations of unionists. And during the last ten years, Colombia’s prison capacity has grown by 40% while documented arbitrary arrests of members of the political opposition have grown by 300%. Very troubling is the attack on peace negotiators in Colombia, coupled with efforts to intimidate international solidarity activists. The removal of Senator Piedad Córdoba from office by Colombia’s Inspector General was a direct blow to peace efforts, since she has been the most important negotiator in securing the releases of captives held by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). One cannot help but note that this occurred just days before FBI raids were carried out against US anti-war activists. Specifically mentioned were their efforts in solidarity with the people of Colombia and Palestine.
This day has become even more relevant to US human rights defenders due to revelations that the US has funded and designed prisons that are notorious for their inhumane conditions. The first of these prisons was La Tramacúa, where beatings and torture are common and prisoners have access to running water only ten minutes a day. Recently, La Tramacúa political prisoner Felix Sanabria ended a 46 day hunger strike calling for better conditions–yet there has been no improvement at the jail. More than ever, we need to speak out and demand that there be an end to political violence and repression in Colombia, and that there be a humanitarian exchange and freedom for political prisoners as a first step toward peace.
During the next week, the Alliance for Global Justice is asking that human rights defenders download and copy our petition calling for better conditions at La Tramacúa Penitentiary in Colombia and to send the filled out petition to:
The Alliance for Global Justice
1247 E Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
You can download the petition here.
Or, you could consider signing on and forwarding the online version to a friend.
We also urge people to visit the website for the International Network in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (of Colombia) and read the latest two statements for the Day of Solidarity with Colombia’s Political Prisoners (in English) and the statement of solidarity with Piedad Córdoba (in Spanish).
Finally, we ask that you participate in a call-in day on Tuesday, October 19th, for US activists targeted in recent FBI raids. We are asking people to Call Pres. Obama at 202-456-1111 and US Attorney General eric Holder at 202-353-1555 and demand:
End repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists! Return all materials seized in the raid! Call off the Grand Jury!
For more information click here.