Bogota, Colombia- Colombian authorities illegally detained, tortured and used lethal weapons against peaceful protesters during protests Demonstration A new report from Amnesty International claims that it has swept the country since April.
Through “exhaustive digital verification” of images and videos, Amnesty International also confirmed that national police officials allowed armed civilians to commit violence and urban paramilitarization against demonstrators and human rights activists.
Since the beginning of the demonstration, the National Police and the Mobile Anti-riot Team (ESMAD) have been criticized for excessive use of force and suppression of peaceful protests. The largest protest occurred in Cali, where the African-American population is the largest in Colombia and second in Latin America, racism, Classism, And the country’s internal armed conflicts have caused losses.
The amnesty report documents some of the most serious allegations against the authorities.
“[P]The police and armed civilians attacked the protesters with acquiescence and tolerance, and in some cases committed acts of torture,” the report said.
“[I]As a country that has suffered decades of paramilitary violent attacks, these incidents are extremely serious and must be investigated carefully, independently and impartially. “
The report specifically analyzes the violent police invasion of the Cali neighborhood in Siloé, armed civilians’ attacks on indigenous Mingas under police surveillance, and police and civilian attacks on protesters at the University of Valle, where several demonstrators claimed to have been illegally detained. Subject to torture and inhuman treatment.
The three protesters described in detail how the police beat them, forcing them to confess to crimes they did not commit, and threatening to let them “disappear.”
The report concluded that these practices were not isolated incidents, but reflected the violent repression of Colombian authorities, including President Ivan Duque, who sent military units “formed by more than 60 years of armed conflict” to the city. Protests have ignited in the streets.
The Amnesty report was released three weeks after the release of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous body of the Organization of American States. in conclusion The Colombian government used “excessive and disproportionate” force during the protest. IACHR calls on the government to make structural reforms of its police force.
Human Rights Watch also last month Call out During the protests, the “shocking” police abused their power and demanded that the government “take urgent measures to protect human rights.”
In an interview with Al Jazeera, the author of the amnesty report, María José Veramendi, pointed out patterns of police violence in the past two years, including Dilan Cruz During the 2019 protests and Javier OrdonezHe died in police custody after being repeatedly electrocuted by the police, triggering a deadly protest last year.
Official sources of the national police pointed to the violence and destruction caused by the protesters, pointed to the proposed police reforms, and stated that any crimes committed by the police were isolated incidents and did not represent a systemic problem.
The source wrote in a message: “Although some policemen have made mistakes and abuses, as I said, they should be severely punished, but the situation is different.”
“That is, the gentlemen did not get up from their bed with the intention of murder and assault, just as those who caused the terrible atrocities that the country has experienced over the past few weeks had premeditated.”
Call for the police to be held accountable
Velamendi said that although Amnesty International has also worked hard to document the crimes committed by the demonstrators, the authorities responded in this way to avoid responsibility.
“Unfortunately, what we have seen is that every time the government is faced with such evidence of human rights violations, the government will immediately shift its focus to blockades, attacks on police, attacks on bus stations, etc.,” she said.
“Of course, all the injuries and damages caused to public goods at bus stations and police stations need to be properly investigated. But the government cannot change the topic and needs to address their responsibility for human rights violations.”
The report also made a series of recommendations, including hearing human rights violations in ordinary courts rather than military courts, ending the stigmatization of protesters and allegations of alliances with armed groups without evidence.
“We found that we saw this [violence] The intention caused fear and prompted these peaceful protesters to stop protesting,” Villamendi said. “Unfortunately, we have been seeing this in the past three months of the Colombian national strike. “
Andres Carmona, a 25-year-old resident of Melendez, one of Cali’s main protest locations, said that the police crackdown had achieved the desired effect to some extent. He witnessed several friends demonstrating. Lost and injured during the event.
“There are many people who suddenly don’t have the same adrenaline to continue to endure these things. Only the boys stay, they are always ready to fight,” he told Al Jazeera via Melendez’s phone.
“But the rest… don’t want to be shot just because they are just there. People have lost a lot of support because of fear. And currently only the people there are not afraid of anything.”
Cali’s activist Diego “Largo” Leiter said that Siloi has more or less returned to normal, and unless there is a lockdown and other disturbances, the state is basically non-existent.
He said: “The same crimes still exist, the same violence still exists, the same poverty and inequality margins still exist.” Seen by the country, and they are not important.”