Student Killed by Bomb Thrown From Bridge

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Colombian National Student Roundtable (MANE) has reported that a student has been killed by a bomb thrown from a bridge overlooking a student demonstration in Cali. The bomb killed 4th year medical student Yan Farid Cheng Lugo, blowing his leg off and causing severe wounds to his abdomen.

The march was part of a national mobilisation of more than 200,000 people across the country protesting against the Santos government’s proposed education reform which would see the privatisation of higher education. The students and their supporters are proposing a new and fairer, more inclusive educational model that would help the development of Colombia as a whole, and not just benefit business and multinational companies as they fear government reforms will.

In Cali a student march of some 15,000 people was approaching Calle 5 and Carrera 36 at just after 11.00am, when there was a large explosion that killed Yan Cheng and wounded 10 other students with shrapnel.

Police have insinuated that Yan Cheng was killed by a pipe bomb he was allegedly carrying, a story that has been picked up by international and national media. However, students say that this is untrue, that the bomb was thrown at the demonstrators from an overpass. Student organisations claim that the attack is part of an effort that has seen them stigmatised through accusations of ‘terrorist’ infiltration. They also accuse state agents of trying to intimidate and persecute students involved in the protests, citing the extreme violence that their demonstrations have met at the hands of the notorious ESMAD riot troops.

In the past students have repeatedly reported the infiltration of their mobilisations by police agents, which they allege is done to seek to legitimise the violent repression of their mobilisations. Another student demonstration in the town of La Macarena saw police accuse students of provoking a violent response by trying to storm a police station in order to steal weapons, an allegation that was later withdrawn, but not before a dozen students had been injured and one young student subjected to an attempted rape by police.

Students are now calling on the police to carry out a proper investigation of this incident, as well as requesting that the government respect their human rights.

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