Protest Highlights Ongoing State-Sponsored Violence in Colombia, Calls for End to UK Military Aid

Justice For Colombia News | on: Thursday, 6 March 2008

Over 200 people today attended a vigil in front of the British Parliament to commemorate the victims of state-sponsored violence in Colombia and call on the British Government to end their policy of providing military aid to the Colombian regime. The vigil, organised by Justice for Colombia and the British trade union Unite amongst others, formed part of an international day of protest against the ongoing human rights crisis in Colombia. Participants included Members of Parliament from both the Labour and Conservative parties, as well as a visiting delegation of nine Colombian trade union leaders.

Speaking at the event Labour MP Colin Burgon said "The UK Government has got it wrong on Colombia. The Uribe regime is responsible for gross and systematic human rights violations and Britain should not be supporting this brutal regime".

Labour parliamentarians including Jim Sheridan MP, Ann Moffat MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Katy Clark MP and Frank Doran MP also attended the event as did the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Tony Lloyd MP, and Labour Party National Executive Member Ellie Reeves. Conservative parliamentarian Peter Bottomley MP also joined the vigil.

In addition to the politicians and members of the Colombian community in London, around 100 British trade union activists were present. Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, Britain's largest union, told the vigil "Colombian President Uribe personally, and with great force, promotes an anti-trade union climate. His government is not only assassinating trade unionists but through a plethora of anti-union laws is assassinating the very existence of trade unions themselves."

Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists and Chair of Justice for Colombia, added "We need to make our Government understand that aiding a regime that murders innocent civilians is simply not acceptable. The UK's current support for the Colombian regime is shameful."

Nine Colombian trade union leaders, including the head of the CUT federation, Carlos Rodriguez, also attended the vigil. Mr Rodriguez thanked participants for their support and solidarity and reiterated the opposition of the Colombian trade union movement to British military aid.

Britain currently provides secret military assistance to the Colombian security forces, including to units, such as the High Mountain Battalions, that have been repeatedly condemned for human rights atrocities. Justice for Colombia's campaign to end military aid currently has the support of more than half of all Labour MPs, the entire British trade union movement and every Labour Member of the European Parliament.

Photos of the event are available here

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