After a strike call in Colombia, the protests have not stopped since the end of April. Special forces act brutally against the people. Amnesty accusing the government of fomenting fear.
Bogotá / Berlin (dpa) – About three months after protests began in Colombia, Amnesty International has accused the South American country’s government of illegal practices against protesters.
The documented cases represent hundreds of other reports and show the violent crackdown by security forces across the country, according to a report released by the human rights organization on Friday.
It is based on 500 recordings and other material and addresses three cases of human rights violations in Cali, the epicenter of the protests. The focus is on the special unit Esmad, which Amnesty says used excessive force during the protests. “What happened in Cali makes the violent response of the authorities to the protests abundantly clear and reveals the real goals behind the repressive approach: to fuel fear,” said Matthias Schreiber, regional expert of the German amnesty department.
Since a strike was declared at the end of April, there have been protests in several cities in Colombia, which also sparked riots. Protesters destroyed infrastructure, blocked major access roads and attacked police stations.
On Wednesday, the initially peaceful demonstrations were followed by violence, vandalism and chaos. At least two dozen people have been killed in the protests so far, most of them as a result of police brutality. Cali was particularly affected
Initially, the protests were against a controversial tax and health reform, both of which have since been withdrawn. Most recently, trade unionists, indigenous peoples and students demonstrated for fundamental reforms in the country. President Iván Duque’s government relied mainly on toughness and condemned the vandalism during the protests.