Update on the National Strike in Colombia: ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

Members of the Francisco Isaias Cifuentes Human Rights Network in Cali, Colombia put themselves between police and a crowd participating in the National Strike.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT THE NATIONAL STRIKE IN COLOMBIA

  1. Send an email to Colombian authorities and the White House demanding an end to the repression.
  2. Send an email to your Congress person urging them to take appropriate actions to end the assaults on the National Strike.
  3. Send an email to Colombian, U.S., and international authorities to demand an end to    the brutal repression of the national strike

 

Greetings to all. The popular strike and national demonstrations continue in Colombia, as does the repression. We want to thank everyone who contributed to the fund to support victims of police violence in the region of Cali, Colombia, where the repression has been concentrated and especially fierce. We have collected more than $4,000 from over 70 contributors. This not only helps the movement in the streets with vitally needed materials; this is a form of solidarity that reaches deep into the heart and soul of Colombia’s popular resistance to encourage them to stay strong.

We will be following up in a few days with more detailed news and analysis about the strike. Briefly, the government has been impeding the flow of information with rolling electrical blackouts, interruption of internet, suspension and censorship of Facebook accounts, and disruption of telephone communications. Nevertheless, reports do continue to get through, and what we are hearing is very concerning. We have heard reports of two youth burned alive by police in Cali, of takeovers of major cities by the U.S. funded and armed ESMAD riot police and Colombian military, multiple reports of troops saying they have received orders to “shoot to kill” (which top officials deny), of houses being set on fire by police, of random shooting into Cali neighborhoods by helicopter gunships. Some things we can confirm—for instances, we have videos of the helicopters flying over and firing on residential parts of Cali. Some we cannot. But so many reports are coming in, the situation is certainly dire and chaotic.

As always, we in the U.S. must remember that Colombia’s weapons of repression flow south from Washington, DC—whether the Democrats or Republicans are in power. We have to change that.

Darnelly Rodriguez’ shoulder showing one of the bruises she sustained from police beating of human rights defenders.

One of the most troubling allegations has been that the police are not respecting even officially recognized human rights monitors.  The following is from a notice that details aggressions against human rights monitors including Darnelly Rodriguez, who coordinates the Cali chapter of the Francisco Isaias Human Rights Network (REDDHFIC). REDDHFIC, along with the Alliance for Global Justice and five other popular movement organizations, are members of the Centro Pazífico Human Rights Center.

According to a notice released on May 5, 2021:

At around 8:40 p.m., the verification mission arrived at the Fray Damian police station, informed the police officers of their presence, and requested to conduct a verification because they had information of people detained at the site. The police officers let them pass on the condition that they do so individually.

Delegates from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Attorney General’s Office entered the National Police facilities while human rights defenders Darnelly Rodríguez (REDDHFIC), Ana María Burgos (Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners Foundation and Defend Freedom Campaign), James Larrea (Unitary Workers Center – “AFLCIO of Colombia”), Rubén Darío Gómez (Observatory of Social Realities of the Archdiocese of Cali) and an official from the Ombudsman’s Office waited their turn to enter.

Outside, a police officer began to shout at the defenders saying that they were “good for nothing”, accusing them “why didn’t they defend the police” and kicking them out of the place, saying “you are good for nothing, go away, you useless people”. Immediately, police officers came out of the station, surrounded the defenders, and started shouting at them.

This part of the Verification Mission was forced to try to leave the site, but one police officer assaulted human rights defender James Larrea and others assaulted human rights defenders Darnelly Rodríguez and Ana María Burgos. The police officers surrounded them and shouted at them to leave the place, so the defenders accelerated their pace to leave and received threats that they were going to be killed.

Nevertheless, these brave human rights defenders are not daunted. The very night of this beating, after being treated in the emergency room, Darnelly was back in touch with us at AFGJ, telling us about the latest news, strategizing on how to keep up the struggle in the streets and how to build international solidarity. Bruised, beaten, in fear for their lives—they keep on.

When will the repressors learn: the resistance will never die, not until the repressor is gone forever.