Country's leading peace activist arrested while preparing to board a plane at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport en route to a meeting in Barcelona, Spain.
Bogotá (19 Sept. 2012) – Andrés Gil, one of Colombia's most prominent peace activists, was arrested and charged with “Rebellion” on September 13, 2012. One day later, a series of arrests were carried out in the Department of Antioquia, including the detention of two members of Colombians for Peace and the Patriotic March.
These arrests are taking place as Colombia claims to be engaging in peace negotiations with guerrilla groups in the country.
Gil has been released thanks to the intervention of ex-Senator Piedad Córdoba, also the founder of Colombians for Peace, but the charges against him are still pending. The other detainees are still being held.
Gil is a leader of the Peasant Organization of the Valley of the Cimitarra River (ACVC), winners of Colombia's National Peace Prize in 2010. He is also a spokesperson for the Patriotic March, Colombia's leading popular mobilization for a political solution to the country's armed and social conflicts. He helped organize the August, 2011 National Encounter for the Land and Peace, attended by over 27,000 persons. The ACVC were co-conveners of the Patriotic March, along with 1,500 grassroots organizations from across the country, turning out 100,000 persons in the streets of Bogotá in April, 2012 to demand that the Colombian government agree to seek a negotiated settlement.
Gil was arrested while preparing to board a plane at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport en route to a meeting in Barcelona, Spain. He was traveling there at the invitation of Vicenç Fisas, director of the School for a Culture of Peace at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
In 2009 Gil he was released after having spent two years in prison on charges that were eventually thrown out for lack of evidence.
To send and email to the administration of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos a letter asking that all charges against Gil be dropped use the following addresses:
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Dear Pres. Santos and members of Cabinet Members,
I am writing to express my support for your country's peace process—and to express my concern over the arrest of Andrés Gil, a member of the ACVC (Asociación Campesina del Valle del río Cimitarra ) and the Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica). It is inexcusable that the Colombian state would begin this crackdown against social and political opposition movements as the nation prepares for negotiations to end its civil war. The arrests of Mr. Gil and other Patriotic March members function to intimidate and exclude social movements from broad participation in achieving a political solution to the armed and social conflict. I express my solidarity with the people of Colombia as they call for a legitimate peace process that protects the right to dissent rather than represses it, and for all charges against Mr. Gil to be dropped.
[Your Name, City and Country]
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