Canada’s NDP condemns the “ongoing extreme use of force by Colombian police and military to suppress peaceful protests”
NDP Member of Parliament Jack Harris.
On May 20, Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) issued this statement on the police and military violence against peaceful protests in Colombia.
Their statement says: “NDP MPs responded to the ongoing extreme use of force by Colombian police and military to suppress peaceful protests in the country.”
“Already, more than 40 people have died, hundreds have been injured, and there are reports of sexual violence and forced disappearances at the hands of the police. Among those targeted are community leaders, including union organizers, Indigenous community leaders, and Afro-Colombian activists.”
It then highlights: “Canada needs to condemn these actions in the strongest terms, but also needs to be vigilant regarding arms sales to Colombia. In the past, Canadian Light Armoured Vehicles were sold to Colombia, which have potential risks for use against citizens. The ongoing violence Colombian protestors are facing is a clear example of why New Democrats want to ensure that we are scrupulous to avoid contributing to human rights violations.”
NDP foreign affairs critic Jack Harris says: “The Liberal government needs to do a lot more to show that they are applying the arms export risk assessment criteria rigorously, to ensure that Canadian arms are not being sold to countries where there are concerns about human rights violations. Canadians expect their government to be an active participant in building peace and not permitting companies to profit from human rights abuses in other countries.”
The full statement from the NDP can be read here.
Others have also expressed concern about Canadian military exports to Colombia and their potential role in the repression against the national strike.
In an Americas Policy Group op-ed recently published in The Hill Times, the Americas Policy Group notes: “In 2014, Canadian-made light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) were sold by INKAS Armoured Vehicles Manufacturing to the Colombian government. Could these same vehicles be the ones now being used to attack peaceful protests?”
And the United Church of Canada in their letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau commented: “Canada´s sale of the Light Armoured Vehicles and Armoured Personnel Vehicles to Colombia regardless of their intended use is deeply concerning.”
We continue to follow this situation closely.
For a photo-journal of accompaniments by the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project during the national strike, click here.