Among the members of the Red de Hermandad, PASC has been accompanying the Foundation « Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners » since 2006. The criminalization of social movements is an integral part of the conflict in Colombia, as this legal process aims to isolate and delegitimize political opposition. The action of support and unconditional solidarity helps to disrupt one of the main mechanisms of criminalization.
Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP)
The Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) is an organization for the Defense of Human Rights which was created in 1973 by the joint effort of several organizations and well-known personalities (like Gabriel Garcia Marquez) concerned with the rights of prisoners, jailed for political reasons. CSPP is fully dedicated to the protection and promotion of the Human Rights of political prisoners and is mainly composed of volunteers. CSPP provides psychosocial support to prisoners and their families, as well as legal support for their defense. CSPP also participates in various contexts to denounce arbitrary arrests, abusive criminalization of political actions and social activities. It also denounces the Human Rights violations rampant in penitentiary establishments throughout Colombia.
CSPP employees and volunteers are often subject to death threats and have been victims of rights violations. In 1990, Bogota-based CSPP lawyer Jesús Pedraza Becerra “disappeared” and in 1995, Javier Alberto Barriga Vergel, a lawyer active in the Norte de Santader branch of the CSPP was killed on his door-step. In 1999, Jésus Puertas and Julio Ernesto Gonzalez, both members of the CSPP in Medellin were likewise assassinated and the list keeps growing. Although CSPP was forced to close down in 1999 due to many threats received by its members, it is now back in operation and its volunteers maintain their efforts, in spite of repression and the criminalization of their activities.
Accompaniment of Political Prisoners and the Committee.
Foundation CSPP has its central office in Bogota and is divided into 6 regional sections, in the following departments: VALLE, ANTIOQUIA, TOLIMA, ATLÁNTICO, CUNDINAMARCA, SANTANDER. PASC has provided its accompaniments mainly in the Santander section. It has visited or kept in contact with prisoners in the high security jail of Palo Gordo Giron, with the detainees of the prison for women in Bucaramanga, and with the inmates in Cucuta. PASC accompanies the Committee, but specifically prisoners whose particular situation makes them all the more vulnerable. Such is the case of Diomedes Meneses Carvajalino, who was tortured and left for dead by the Colombian Forces. Still locked in his prison cell, he is now suing his torturers.
Developing awareness of the daily reality of political prisoners.
To open a space for debate in North America on the topic of State Terrorism and hightened security trends. Using the key concept of “Political Prisoner”, recognized in International Law, affords a link with similar situations and concepts, in Canada and elsewhere, like Security Certificates, Repression, Criminalisation of Political Activities, etc… Responding to, translating, and distributing the CSPP's Urgent Actions are an integral part of the PASC's accompaniment work.
Visits to Colombian Prisoners and their families.
To create a space for exchange with Political Prisoners, and simultaneously to demonstrate to the penitentiary administration that international groups support political prisoners in Colombia. Also, to break the social marginalization of families and to denounce the constant threats and persecution under which they live.
Accompaniment of CSPP members.
CSPP members are threatened and their work is continually under attack, as is their personal security. Thus this accompaniment includes participating in the Committee’s activities. The Committee organizes its own activities as well as participates in many other events organised by UIS, CUT, Sinaltrainal, the Association for the Disappeared, the Movimiento de las Victimas, etc... These activities could be demonstrations, vigils, movie showings, discussions and conferences, tributes, etc.
Letter-writing with Political Prisoner groups.
Most Political Prisoners are social activists who suddenly find themselves isolated from the outside world. Correspondance with the outside world helps break their isolation. These Political Prisoners are detained by a system which accuses them of rebellion, keeping them in a particularly vulnerable state. Indeed, many social leaders are sentenced as rebels because of their social activism.
Diffusion of texts, videos and witness statements of Political Prisoners. Support of their demands.
In the PASC’s publication, la Piedra en el Zapato, as well as on our web site and in our brochures, we regularly publish analyses and poems written by Colombian Political Prisoners. We also encourage the exchange of articles among other publications like 4strugglemag or Certain Days Calendar, written by Political Prisoners of North America and their allies. PASC also diffuses materials Video and Audio created by prisoners.