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OPEN LETTER British and Irish trade unions condemn state violence in Colombia

TRADE unions in Britain and Ireland express our profound condemnation of the terrible state violence currently taking place in Colombia.
 
Since the latest round of trade union-led national strike mobilisations were initiated on Wednesday April 28, Colombian state forces have committed human rights abuses 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.
 
Following the police killings of up to 13 people during protests in September 2020, Colombia’s Supreme Court found state forces to act with systematic violence towards peaceful protest. 

Despite this ruling and repeated warnings by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other bodies, state violence in Colombia has continued.
 
We cannot stay silent in the face of these brutal attacks against protesters. We support the right of every Colombian to protest and to raise their voice to call for a brighter future. 

We congratulate the trade unions, the social movements and particularly the thousands of young people who have had the tenacity to stand up and continue their protest in the face of so much intimidation and violence from the police. 

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.
 
Signed:
 
Frances O’Grady, general secretary, TUC
Gerry Murphy, president, ICTU
Roz Foyer, general secretary, STUC
Ged Nichols, general secretary, Accord
Mick Whelan, general secretary, Aslef and chair, Justice for Colombia
Sarah Woolley, general secretary, BFAWU
Dave Ward, general secretary, CWU
Larry Flanagan, general secretary, EIS
Matt Wrack, general secretary, FBU
Kevin Callinan, general secretary, Forsa
Eoin Ronanye, deputy general secretary, Forsa
Horace Trubridge, general secretary, MU
Patrick Roach, general secretary, NASUWT
Mark Dickinson, General Secretary, Nautilus
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, NEU
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary, NEU
Alison Millar, general secretary, Nipsa
Mark Serwotka, general secretary, PCS
Steve Gillan, general secretary, POA
Mark Fairhurst, chair, POA
Michael Lynch, general secretary, RMT
Manuel Cortes, general secretary, TSSA
Jo Grady, general secretary, UCU
Vicky Blake, president, UCU
Christina McAnea, general secretary, Unison
Len McCluskey, general secretary, Unite 
Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Usdaw

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