Supporters of human rights in Colombia were justifiably thrilled last month at the news that human rights activist, trade unionist and documentary filmmaker Liliany Obando had been released from prison. She had spent almost four years in harsh conditions in detention and subjected to abuse by Colombian prison authorities.
Liliany was held without conviction on politically motivated charges of “rebellion” and aiding “terrorism”, i.e. gathering finances for leftist guerrillas involved in decades’ long insurgency arising from the appalling social injustice in Colombia. This type of abuse of the legal system by the Colombian government to silence critics is still all too common in Colombia.
Until recently Liliany had been denied her constitutional right as a single parent to home detention to look after her young family. International pressure, including the presence of an international forum in Bogotá in February, the initiatives of an international commission of women seeking a negotiated resolution to the armed and social conflict in Colombia appear to have forced the Colombian authorities’ hand in Liliany’s case.
The development is to be welcomed but Liliany is not out of danger. Her bogus case continues and she could be taken back into custody at any time. She and members of her family have been under surveillance, received death threats, followed and photographed by unidentified persons outside her residence in Bogotá. Colombia is still terrorised by vicious paramilitary forces serving the interests of the reactionary political elite in power in the country. People regularly disappear off the streets of Colombian cities or are killed or are incarcerated on bogus charges in a dirty war against opponents of the government and the big business interests it serves.
Liliany still needs the support of the international community. She needs the Colombian government to provide the security she and her family require. She has been released on bail and her charges have not been dropped so she is unable to obtain paid work. The International Network in Solidarity with Colombia’s Political Prisoners – which has supported Liliany and other political prisoners since its foundation four years ago – has launched a fundraising appeal to provide Liliany and her family a financial lifeline until she is acquitted and can return to the workforce.
Please consider making a donation. Put yourself in Liliany’s shoes – what sort of solidarity would you expect from trade unionists and supporters of human rights in more peaceful and affluent countries if you and your family were being hounded by a government hell-bent on destroying legitimate political opposition and trade union activity?
Bob Briton & Vinnie Molina
For the International Network in Solidarity with Colombia’s Political Prisoners, www.inspp.org
Send cheques or money orders to: Electronic transfers can be made to:
PO Box 612 Bendigo Bank
Port Adelaide BC, SA 5015 BSB: 633 000 Account no: 141895391