More than 600 people from all over the country met in the city of Bogota the 15th of October, the National Day of the Political Prisoner and Detainee, to reflect on the peace talks, political crime, and the situation of political prisoners in Colombia and in the world.
As a result of this conference, family members and friends of the political prisoners from different regions of the country, recognized analysts and researchers, human rights defenders from countries such as Argentina, Chile, Basque Country, Palestine and Venezuela, we declare that:
The social inequality, the institutional repression, the lack of guarantees for the exercise of fundamental rights, the fragility of democracy and the hold over the state by corrupt, exclusive political elites, the forced displacement of peasant, indigenous, and afro-descendant communities from their land with the consequent resource extraction by multinational companies with help from paramilitary forces, are all structural causes at the root of the social, political, and armed conflict that has been going on for more than 50 years in the country. In Colombia the population continues to suffer from the social political violence from a state that implements various forms to persecute, repress, and eliminate the opposition, such as the criminalization of social and popular protest.
In spite of the fact that the social and popular struggles of the Colombian people have had peaceful expressions, the context of military repression, of political and economic exclusion has caused many from different social and impoverished sectors to take up arms and the emergence of the insurgencies in the middle of the 20th century. It is important to contextualize the emergence of political armed actors through the combination of various forms of struggle and that have been proposing taking power and creating a true transformation of political and economic structures of Colombian society. However this social and political subject motivated by altruistic purposes, is treated as a political criminal in national and international law; as a disturber of social order. The status of political crime, that includes its philosophical and juridical bases in the recognition and respect towards the political opponent and their legitimate right to dissent, has been weakened. Through the strategy of “war on terror,” the person who fell into category of political crime, is no longer considered a rebel who looks to transform the society and uses violence as a last resource, necessary to establish a just social order. They are seen as a terrorist who threatens the national and international security of the capitalist economic model. This situation has distorted the political nature of the Colombian armed conflict and intensified the persecution of the processes of popular resistance, which is reflected in the increase in repression and criminalization of poverty, supported by a criminal policy whose general rule is the permanent deprivation of liberty.
The prison crisis that exists in the country is not only reflected in the high rate of overcrowding (more than 53%), but also in the sharp increase in the violations of human rights of the incarcerated people and their family members. Today, the prison system is going through a grave humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the “New Prison Culture” that was imposed in the country through the signing of Plan Colombia by which they have been militarizing and privatizing the prisons, affecting the rights of the entire incarcerated population, with grave consequences for political prisoners and detainees. This crisis, consciously ignored by the Colombian state, is the result of political and armed conflict and serves to silence the thousands of voices of protest that denounce the people who have historically stolen from the people their right to live with dignity.
With that in mind, and given that we are in the actual moment of Peace Talks, the International Conference has emphasized three fundamental points, necessary to construct peace with social justice:
The recognition and development of the notion of political crime as a central mechanism that permits the advancement towards a political and negotiated solution to the conflict.
Respect for critical thinking, to the right of protest, and the different organizational forms of the Colombian people, as a right to peace and the satisfaction of fundamental rights.
To include in the peace agenda: the solution to the prison crisis, the ratification of the Protocol against torture and the transformation of the criminal policy, such as the inclusion of guarantees of participation for the incarcerated population.
Due to this, the different organizations that came together for this International Conference, will assume to task to revive, politically and historically, the notion of political crime as the base for recognition of the causes that are at the base of the political and armed conflict, and an important contribution to the construction of peace with social justice. We also make a call to the National Government to make a real effort at peace and expedite the dialogues with the National Liberation Army (ELN). We also ask for the presence of a representative of the political prisoners and detainees in the next delegation of victims to the talks in Havana, Cuba.
Last but not least, we would like to make a call to all of the social movements and the society in general, to support the acts of civil disobedience that is being developed in the prisons in the country in the month of October so they decree a social emergency in the prisons which can help establish the basis for a true transformation to the prison and jail system and of the criminal policy which sustains it.
Bogota, Colombia October 2014
Asociaciones de familiares y amigos de los presos políticos de Colombia
Colectivos de presos políticos de Colombia
Asociación de ex - Detenidos Desaparecidos (AEDD) de la Argentina
Organizaciones Internacionales en Apoyo a los Presos Políticos Colombianos.
Congreso de los pueblos,
Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos,
Universidad Pedagógica nacional
Translated by PASCoriginal: colombiainforma.info