We, the Latin American Movement Assembly of the People’s Social Forum in Toronto state that:

July 8, 2015

On July 8, 2015, 15 people were detained in the city of Bogotá simultaneously in operations conducted by the District Attorney of the Nation, along with the National Police. The detained were accused of being responsible for the explosions that occurred last week in Bogotá. Even without a judiciary order, official pronouncements of the Presidency, local authorities and massive media were already targeting these 15 people as responsible of such attacks.

Regarding these incidents, we denounce that the majority of the detained and accused are well known student leaders, peasants, journalists, public servants and human rights defenders who have been publicly fighting for the rights to public education, the rights of peasants, and the construction of peace. Furthermore, eleven of the detained people are part of organizations that make up “Congreso de los Pueblos” (The People’s Congress).

Despite all their help and work for Colombia, different media characterized them as “terrorists”, considering their social engagement and activism as an indicator of violent actions. Besides the stigmatization and discrimination against these people, authorities are undermining the presumption of innocence and criminalizing the freedom of expression in Colombia.

In solidarity with this situation, the Latin American Movement Assembly denounces the violation of these people’s basic human rights and demands for their immediate release until the case is investigated according to the article 8 of the Human Rights Inter-American Convention, ratified by Colombia in 1985. We are worried about the multiple cases of legal false positives that have happened and continue to happen since last year and have been generating stigmatizations and risks to the members of the social movement in Colombia.

We demand justice for these 15 activists who, through their hard work and commitment have greatly contributed to the creation of a social and political movement that promotes peace and social justice and who represent structural changes for the country.

We demand the freedom of the people deprived of their liberty with the guarantee of a due process and the recognition of the legitimacy and legality of their actions.

We call on the General Prosecutors of the nation to act in line with the principal of judicial independence by making a reasonable and technical assessment of the alleged evidence that has been collected, as they were in public and work-related activities to testify and provide justification.

We demand guarantees to political participation, the exercise of social protest and the freedom of expression in Colombia, and to detain all the mechanisms that obstruct the defense of human rights.