Saturday, 7 June 2008

Students mobilize in Cali

On Friday 7th June students from the Universidad del Valle (Univalle) in Cali marched to the city centre to denounce state repression against their university, which has seen 4 students murdered in recent years and the imprisonment of four students two months ago, one of whom remains in prison, accused of 'terrorism'.
June 7th marks the anniversary of a national strike in Bogota in 1929, supported by students, who for the first time fell at the hands of the police. This tradition of targetting students in Colombia, has continued to the present day, especially at Univalle. In September 2005 Univalle student Jhonny Silva was murdered by police at a demo in the presence of international observers, which was followed by the murders of students William Javier (April 2006), Julian Hurtado (October 2006) and Katherine Soto (August 2007).
Andres Palomino, who hasn't actually been charged with anything but has spent the last two months remanded in custody, is coincidently one of the witnesses of the Truth Commission into Jhonny Silva's murder. The other three students arrested alongside Andres have all been released without charge.
Attempts to hold the police to account for Jhonny's murder are continuing despite the Cali criminal court's foot dragging. In 2007 three senior riot police officers were linked to the murder with the court recognising that armed police had entered the university and fired live rounds at the students. The police were ordered to present their defence but have yet to do so.
On Friday's march to the city centre, several hundred students demanded justice for those murdered and the release of Andres Palomino. The march was accompanied by around 50 cops who looked on disapprovingly as students flyposted the route and a few redecorated bus shelter adverts and empty walls. They spent a couple of hours in the square outside the regional government offices before gradually dispersing.
Click here for photos.

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