Campaign “Freedom for Colombian unionist Liliana Obando”, Update 1
/ Monday 18 August 2008
A network of people in Australia concerned at the appalling human rights situation in Colombia – particularly as it affects trade unionists, workers and rural communities.
Red australiana de personas solidarias con sindicalistas, trabajadores y comunidades rurales afectadas por la crisis humanitaria en Colombia.
Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC), thanks everyone for the numerous letters sent to the
Colombian government protesting against the arrest and detention of Colombian trade unionist
Liliana Obando. We also thank you for supporting the campaign to free her by signing the online
It has been now one week since Liliana Obando was arrested in her home in front of her distraught
mother and her two young children by a special wing of the Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Colombian
National Police and the Criminal Investigation Directorate (DIJIN).
PJFC is in contact with Liliana’s legal team and her family and spoke yesterday with her 13 years
old son who is emotionally affected by the detention of his mother and upset about all the lies the
Colombian media are spreading about her. The police also confiscated his computer that he uses
for his studies. We reassured him we are aware that all the accusations are based on lies and for
that reason in Australia there are people who have mobilised to demand the government free her.
As a matter of clarification,
PJFC has become aware of disturbing information (rumours) that Fensuagro stated that Liliana was
not part of Fensuagro. PJFC obtained a copy of the true statement that was issued by Fensuagro in
which they acknowledged that Liliana is a recognized sociologist of the National University and a
Human rights defender who worked for their Federation as a Coordinator of Human Rights
Projects and who they regarded as an honest person, responsible and very hard working; as well
she participated in several international events with the endorsement of the federation.
As PJFC asserted in its statement of 13 August, the accusations and charges against Liliana
Obando are based on lies and the Colombian government is again using the media to not only
discredit unionists, but to mislead the national and international community.
As our unionist brothers and sisters in Canada have stated “Liliana was one of Fensuagro’s most
important contacts with social movements, religious institutions, human rights groups, academics,
and unions outside Colombia” and this is the only reason she is being targeted by the regime. “In
silencing her activities, the state hopes to squash the rise in awareness of the violations being
committed against trade unionism, peace and community activists, the poor and workers in
Colombia and to discourage trade unions around the world from supporting the struggle for peace
and social justice and from expressing their solidarity with their Colombian people”.
PJFC expresses its solidarity with Fensuagro against this new campaign of intimidation and
harassment. We urge trade unions, social and political organisations and peace loving people in
Australia to keep demanding that the Colombian government release Liliana Obando and that the
persecution, kidnapping and assassination against members and affiliates of Fensuagro must be
PJFC also condemns the murder of Manuel Gamboa, Vice-President of the Peasants Association
for the Defence of the Putumayo (ASCAP), a Fensuagro’s affiliated union.