Return to Bogota

I returned to Bogota on Feb 23rd to take part in an international conference regarding political prisoners in Colombia. I once again had the opportunity to visit my friend, political prisoner Liliany Obando, on Saturday at Buen Pastor prison. She has been here for three and half years without being convicted of anything, and her trial process seemingly is on hold for almost a year or more. Punishment without trial. She is still in the high-security Patio 7 cell block with only paramilitary and drug prisoner cellmates.

The visitor entry routine has become even more difficult and time consuming, but Liliany was in good spirits and thanks all the people writing letters to her. She is waiting for her 8th appeal to allow her constitutional right as a single mother to house arrest so she can take care of her young family. Liliany is the perfect example of why this conference is taking place. There are 8,000 more political prisoners like her in Colombia.

A new group called Women of the World for Peace, led by Colombian Dr. Piedad Cordoba with dignitaries from around the world, is one of the main groups attending this conference. They have sent a letter to the FARC guerrilla movement asking that they release 10 of their prisoners in order to start a negotiated peace process with the government. The FARC replied today saying that they would consider such a proposal if negotiations happen for the release of political prisoners held by the Colombian government. Unfortunately the Colombian government does not acknowledge that there are any political prisoners here, in spite of examples like Liliany Obando and many many others charged with “rebellion” and other undefendable trumped up charges.

There are representatives at this conference from Spain, Denmark, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Honduras, Mexico, Great Britain, Philippines, Australia, USA, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, Palestine, Guatemala, Venezuela, Belgium and others. We will be meeting for the two days and then spend two days attempting to visit the various prisons in Colombia to meet with political prisoners in person. But so far the Colombian government is saying we can’t visit these political prisoners because Colombia has no political prisoners. It appears there are going to be some tough negotiations but these people are committed to bring peace to Colombia and I’m honoured to be a part of the process.

Bye for now.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Colin Smith on February 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Brilliant Kevin. Good to see you in there slugging for peace and justice. If I ever get my health back I’d like to join you. Meantime if there’s anything I can do to help just plug me in. Take Care and Good Luck
    Colin

    Reply

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