British and Irish trade unions condemn Colombian state violence

Letter notes human rights abuses on a ‘massive scale’, with up to 37 people reported killed

UNISON has joined a number of British and Irish trade unions in condemning the latest human rights abuses, including the killing of protestors, by state forces in Colombia.

General secretary Christina McAnea and TUC president Frances O’Grady are among those who have written to the foreign offices in London and Dublin with their “profound condemnation” of the violence in the South American country.

Their open letter notes that since the latest round of trade union-led national strikes began on 28 April, human rights abuses have been committed on “a massive scale”.

According to national human rights organisations, state forces have killed at least 18 people, with some reporting up to 37 deaths, and left numerous others with permanent eye injuries.

There are also several reports of sexual violence committed against detainees, while human rights observers and journalists have been attacked.

This current violence comes despite Colombia’s own supreme court’s condemnation of the police killing of protestors in 2020, and in the face of repeated warnings by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other bodies.

The letter states: “We support the right of every Colombian to protest and to raise their voice to call for a brighter future … The Colombian state must respect citizens’ democratic right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.

“On behalf of the millions of workers across both Britain and Ireland who our unions represent, we call separately on both our governments, in Britain and Ireland, to publicly condemn the state violence which has taken place over recent days and to demand an immediate end to the violence and full accountability for the perpetrators.”

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