Three agricultural trade unionists sentenced to 693 months in prison
Justice For Colombia News |
on: Wednesday, 9 October 2013
In Colombia there are reportedly more than 7,000 political prisoners. Most of those are peasant farmers involved in organisations and trade unions campaigning for improved infrastructure, credit opportunities, and ultimately an end to the poverty in which they are forced to live in rural Colombia. As a result of their union activity they are often met with death threats and attacks by private armies set-up by those with a vested interest in maintaining the inequality. These private armies, also known as paramilitaries, operate side-by-side with elements of the Army and the Police. In addition to the threats and attacks, the activities of these peasant farmers are disrupted by the conjuring up of false charges which see them arrested and put in prison in a systematic campaign to silence and punish those involved in the struggle for equality and social justice.
The Colombian agricultural workers’ union, Fensuagro, has suffered the worst of all of this. Recently its vice president Huber Ballesteros was arrested and now, on 27 September 2013, three of its members were sentenced to 693 months in prison on the false charges of terrorism and murder.
Justice for Colombia has campaigned for the release of Manuel Antonio Marquez Mejia, Alexi Antonio Arroyo Moreno and Eulogio Tapiero Galindo since they were first arrested on 22 June 2011. Three other Fensuagro members faced the same charges with the same evidence yet were released after a JFC and trade union campaign. The case against the Fensuagro 3 is based on evidence provided by a paid witness. In Colombia there is what has been referred to by the Attorney General as a carrousel of false witnesses who are used to testify against union activists.
Justice for Colombia, with the support of the British and Irish trade union movements will continue to campaign for the release of all three men.