Political Prisoners Freed!

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 24 April 2008

A judge yesterday ordered three leading members of the Rio Cimitarra Peasant Farmer Association (ACVC) to be freed from jail citing a lack of evidence against them. Mario Martinez, Oscar Duque and Evaristo Mena, who were all detained last year and accused of 'rebellion', have all been released partly thanks, according to the ACVC, international pressure on the Colombian regime. However, three other ACVC leaders remain unjustly imprisoned and human rights groups have urged people to continue campaigning for their freedom.

The ACVC, which works in the Colombian departments of Antioquia and Bolivar, has spent more than ten years campaigning for the rights of small farmers, for increased social investment in their region and in defence of human rights. As a result of this work they have been subjected to extreme persecution by the Colombian authorities and numerous members and activists have been killed by the Colombian Army in recent years.

In addition to the killings, several leaders of the ACVC have been subjected to arbitrary detentions or forced to flee their homes in the face of threats. Last year six members of the elected Executive Committee of the organisation were detained and accused of rebellion. Three of these were those that won their freedom yesterday though the other three Andres Gil, Miguel Gonzalez Huepa and Ramiro Ortega all remain imprisoned in the city of Bucaramanga.

In addition, the Colombian authorities have issued arrest warrants for five other members of the 12-strong ACVC Executive: Luis Carlos Ariza, Gilberto Guerra, Miguel Cifuentes, Wilson Vega and Eladio Polo.

For previous news on the ACVC, including articles about the detentions outlined above, see:

Peasant Farmers Call on Army to End Executions, March 2008 http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/news/article/212/

Two Peasant Leaders Taken Away by Army, January 2008 http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/news/article/148/

Colombian Army Assassinate Peasant Farmer, Agricultural Leaders Detained, September 2007 http://www.justiceforcolombia.org/news/article/40/

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