Updated: Oct 3
Srishti Chhaya 26th September 2020
21st September 2020 saw thousands of Colombians participate in a protest against the right-wing government of President Iván Duque. It was reported by News Click that huge crowds of people were mobilised in different cities around Colombia, carrying massive demonstrations in this national strike, making it the biggest anti-government protest during a global outbreak. This was done in rejection of the brutality of the police, the economic crisis that the nation is facing due to coronavirus, and the constant increase in numbers of the killings of social leaders.
As reported by different organisations, there was a high presence of state security. Though the protest had a peaceful character in Bogota, the anti-riot police broke up the mass demonstration. This gave a dictatorship outlook of the right-wing government, despite assurance from the authorities that the police officers would not carry firearms during the marches to repress the people. Unfortunately, the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) responded to the peaceful protest with violent repression.
On 8th September 2020, during action against the mass protesters, the Colombian police tortured and killed Javier Ordóñez, reported DW. The police had previously killed fourteen individuals on 9th September 2020 using gunfire in a systematic manner. The killing included eight young workers in the service sector, two engineers, one university student, and three others whose identities are not clear. This police brutality also left seventy-two people wounded by the bullets.
Demonstrations were held in more than 14 parts of Bogota with protests in other cities like Cali, Ibague, Pereira, Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Manizales, Medellin, Barrancabermeja, Barranquilla, Cartagena, and Popayan, among other smaller cities from the coastal Tumaco to Magangue. A report by The Guardian pointed out that the protests in Medellin and Bogota were socially heterogeneous with citizens from LGBTQA+, left-wing political parties, human rights organisations, Indigenous and Afro-descendent organisations, women, university students, and teachers. This made Bogota, the capital city of Colombia, the epicentre of the national protest.
Following Javier Ordóñez’s assassination, an initiative was taken to break the mainstream blockade of the protest through national media. As part of the ‘Informative Alliance in Defence of Social Protest,’ a live stream was made with interviews with political leaders by a group of more than 10 alternative media project parts. Throughout the day, live footage from the protest across the country was telecasted.
“What is being done in Bogota is a clear violation of human rights. Peaceful citizens cannot be prosecuted just for protesting,” tweeted Progressive leader Gustavo Petro, urging the mayor, Claudia López, to take actions to protect the people. He participated in the protest march in Bogota’s Plaza Bolivar that was repressed by ESMAD, also known as the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron.
(Source: NewsClick, The Guardian, DW)
Edited by Satvik Pandey