Further Education Trade Union Attacked in Colombia

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 22 May 2008

A raid on the headquarters of the further education workers' trade union in the Colombian capital Bogota has been described by the union as "not an isolated incident, but rather the product of a policy of anti-trade union persecution overseen by the Government." The union, known as SINDESENA, also says that requests to have union activists who have received death threats transferred to other further education institutions in order to safeguard their lives have been repeatedly denied and points out that only last month a senior SINDESENA activist was assassinated.

The most recent attack took place on May 18th when armed men violently forced their way into the union's headquarters and attacked and beat the female caretaker, the only person in the building at the time. The men then went to one of the bedrooms in the headquarters – used for visiting union officials from other regions of the country – and searched the bags of Carlos Rodriguez.

Mr Rodriguez, the regional president of SINDESENA in the northern Colombian region of Atlantico, had come to Bogota with evidence of death threats against union activists in Atlantico and the results of a recent investigation into the murder of SINDESENA member Jesus Heberto Caballero. Mr Caballero, a close colleague of Mr Rodriguez, was killed last month in Barranquilla, the capital of Atlantico.

After finding and taking papers and other evidence relating to the threats and killing, as well as a USB memory stick containing other union documents, the men left the building.

A May 19th communiqué signed by SINDESENA's national leader, Aleyda Murillo Granados, blamed the attack on the government and accused the authorities of not caring about the danger faced by trade unionists in the further education sector. Evidence of this, according to the union, is that the authorities have repeatedly refused requests to transfer union activists whose lives have been threatened to other regions of the country where they would be in less danger – as in the case of Carlos Rodriguez who has been told he will be killed for his union activities but whose requests for a transfer to another further education institution have been denied.

For further details see "Union Leader Tortured and Murdered"

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