Since April 28, 2021 thousands of people took the streets across the country calling for the withdrawal of a tax reform and for better social and economic measures in a national strike (“Paro Nacional”) called by several social movements. The authorities responded by deploying the military to several cities, publicly stigmatizing protestors, and crushing protests with excessive use of force, including with weapons causing dozens of deaths, and hundreds of injured, arbitrarily detained and disappeared. We call on the President to guarantee the people’s right to peaceful assembly.
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Mr. Iván Duque
President of the Republic of Colombia
Palacio de Nariño
Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Bogotá, Colombia
Email: [email protected]
I write you to express my deepest concern for the violent response that your government is giving to people protesting on the streets calling for better social and economic measures developed in an open and fruitful dialogue with the society as a whole to address the many challenges Colombia faces nowadays.
According to Colombian Civil Society Organizations, since the start of the “Paro Nacional”, and until May 4, 2021, the deployment of the military, police forces and the anti-riot squad (ESMAD) to repress protests caused 31 deaths, 216 people injured, and 814 arbitrary detentions. There are also reports of acts of sexual violence, and the office of the Ombudsperson published a list with 87 people disappeared in the context of the protests.
These human rights violations are nothing new in similar situations that happened in the recent past of the country, and it is time to stop them. Problems in Colombia will not go away by trying to supress the voices of the people who should have a say in how the country recovers and flourishes after these difficult times.
As the highest authority in Colombia, I call you to end the stigmatization of social protest and give a clear order to stop repression. You have the obligation to guarantee an enabling environment where the people’s right to peaceful assembly is fully respected, by condemning and deescalating the violent response from law enforcement officers against people protesting, and making sure that all human rights violations taking place in the context of the recent protests are fully investigated and sanctioned.