Letter to Colombian president protesting the arrest of Liliany Obando

August 21, 2008

President Alvaro Uribe Velez
Vice-president Dr Francisco Santos Calderon

Dear Srs President and Vice-President,

The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) in Australia is writing to protest in the strongest possible terms the arrest and detention on August 8 of workers' and human rights advocate Liliany Obando.

The DSP has met with Liliany Obando during two of her visits to Australia on behalf of trade union federations and human rights organisations in Colombia. We have heard detailed reports from her about the situation of Colombia's people and the peaceful solutions she always advocated.

Liliany Obando is well known in our region of the world for her tireless defence of human rights and we believe that she has been targeted because of her international work with social movements, religious institutions, human rights groups, academics and trade unions on behalf of the people of Colombia.

We reject the all-encompassing charge of "rebellion" that has been laid against Liliany Obando as morally and legally indefensible, and call on the Colombian government to respect her fundamental human right to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

We warn that any attempts to silence Liliany Obando will strengthen the world community's condemnation of the tragic condition of human rights in Colombia. The world is aware that trade union leaders and other social justice activists in Colombia face persistent harassment, threats, arbitrary arrest and assassination at the hands of the paramilitaries and the state's security forces: in the past 20 years, more than 3000 Colombian unionists have been assassinated.

We therefore call on the Colombian government to not only release and guarantee the safety of Liliany Obando immediately, but also act to end all repression of trade union and other social justice activists in Colombia.

Yours sincerely,

National Executive
Democratic Socialist Perspective

Sent to:

Senor Presidente Alvaro Uribe Velez
Presidente de la Republica, Palacio de Narino, Carerra 8, No 7-2 Bogota
Fax: +57 1 337 5890 / 342 0592
Email: auribe@presidencia.gov.co

Dr Francisco Santos Calderon
Vicepresidencia, Carerra 8A, No 7-27 Bogota
Fax: +57 1 565 7682
Email: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co


1. Embassy of Colombia
Fax: + 61 (0)2 6257 1448
Email: embassyofcolombia@bigpond.com and ecanberra@cancilleria.gov.co

2. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd