NUPGE denounces the death threat made against the executive committee of the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (FECODE)

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: The banner says: “We demand respect for life and for peace! United, we go with FECODE.”

The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (FECODE) has been a key organizer of the national strike mobilizations in Colombia.

PBI-Colombia accompanied organizations including the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), Nomadesc, CREDHOS, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) and the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) have participated in these massive mobilizations.

They have affirmed a series of demands including an end to the killing of human rights defenders, an immediate dissolution of the ESMAD riot police, a ban on fracking, and a full implementation of the 2016 peace agreement.

Following the repression, arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force by security forces against the first national strike mobilization in November 2019, PBI-Colombia stated: “Social and peaceful protest is a human right above all else.”

Now we are receiving word about a death threat recently made against all fifteen members of the Executive Committee of FECODE and Diógenes Orjuela, the president of the Unitary Workers Central (CUT) and a former leader of FECODE.

And just yesterday, FECODE denounced the murder of two teachers – Douglas Cortés Mosquera and Bayron Revelo Insuasty – in the department (province) of Risaralda. This follows the murder of 14 unionized teachers in Colombia last year.

Furthermore, FECODE president Nelson Alarcon has stated that over 1,100 teachers have been killed in Colombia over the past 30 years. There have also been 49 attempted murders, over 3,000 threats and more than 1,500 forced displacements.

And this past February, FECODE reported that 230 teachers had received death threats in just the first few weeks of this year alone.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has denounced this and the recent death threats against FECODE executive committee members and the president of the Colombian trade union federation CUT.

NUPGE President Larry Brown says: “The news of the death threats sent to Colombian unions leaders is horrific. Such violence is never acceptable but is even more shocking because it comes in response to noble union-led efforts to stand up for the health and wellbeing of teachers, workers, and students.”

Brown highlights: “NUPGE strongly condemns the death threats and the ongoing repression of union leaders and activists in Colombia.”

NUPGE has also shared this LabourStart campaign petition that states:

“The authorities are accountable to ensure immediate protection measures for the entire FECODE leadership and for all union and social leaders and activists in Colombia exercising their right to express opinions, to demonstrate and to organise to defend the public education system.”

NUPGE supports CCAJAR, a legal collective that works to protect human rights and represents labour activists in Colombia. Similarly, PBI-Colombia has provided protective accompaniment to CCAJAR since 1995.

CCAJAR lawyer Dora Lucy Arias Giraldo has stated: “International accompaniment, especially the accompaniment of Peace Brigades International, has been decisive in enabling us to continue our work as human rights defenders and lawyers, accompanying processes and victims who have suffered grave human rights violations.”

To watch a recent 7-minute PBI-Colombia video with CCAJAR lawyer Reynaldo Villalba speaking about illegal military intelligence operations against CCAJAR and other repression they have experience, please click here.

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