Duque Regime’s Crimes Against Humanity to Reach ICC

Kawsachun News
Scene from a protest in Santiago de Cali on April 29, 2021. Photo: Jahfrann

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will soon receive a communication from Bogotá on the crimes against humanity committed by the Ivan Duque regime against Colombian citizens since national strike mobilizations began on April 28th.

Senator Iván Cepeda Castro announced that he would be relaying the information alongside the organizations Defender la Libertad, Temblores, and La Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, “informing the possible responsibility of President Duque, Uribe, Minister Molano, Gr. Zapateiro and Gr. Vargas in crimes against humanity committed during the strike.”

Former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe Vélez, a current Senator and advisor to President Duque, has been widely denounced for encouraging members of security forces to make use of weapons and repress mobilizations within a climate a systematic violence against young people and social leaders in which murder is being carried out with impunity.

Since the beginning of the strike, Uribe has used social media to spread hate against political opponents and stigmatize citizens participating in mass mobilizations. Paramilitary-linked Uribe, has been one of the loudest voices working with powerful media houses to construct a ‘vandalism’ narrative in order to justify repression by regime forces against people in the streets. He’s also said that ‘violence’ which he attributes to protesters, is a “stage on the road to socialism.”

State security forces are responsible for a high number of killings which began on April 30th. Human rights groups and NGOs have calculated approximately 30 murders by police as of Thursday, during demonstrations first ignited by a now withdrawn neoliberal tax reform bill.

Neither the Ombudsman’s Office nor the National Police have issued a report with consolidated figures on injuries and deaths in the context of protests.

Other functionaries who will be named before the ICC are Duque’s Minister of Defense, Diego Molano Aponte; Commander of the Army, General Eduardo E. Zapateiro; and Director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas. Police and ESMAD riot forces have carried out countless acts of police brutality and excessive use of force including: the killings of unarmed demonstrators, arbitrary detentions, sexual violence, causing serious injuries, and the frequent discharging of firearms. Additionally, numerous protesters have gone missing since the national strike began, many whose whereabouts remain unknown.

In recent days, state security forces have terrorized neighborhoods with low-flying helicopters from which tear gas was dropped into homes and other enclosed structures while residents have also recorded as gunfire was discharged from the aircraft.

Human rights defenders in Cali, where the largest number of killings by police have been carried out, have called on the Duque regime to respect international treaties which give special protection to medical missions and denounced that security forces aren’t allowing ambulances to enter areas where police are repressing citizens.

Human rights defenders themselves have been beaten, arbitrarily arrested and threatened while going about their work to accompany peaceful demonstrators in the streets. Independent reporters continue to denounce the difficulty in fulfilling their duty to inform, in a context of criminal complicity by Colombia’s oligarchy-controlled television networks and press.

Statements made by lawmakers from various countries and international organizations denouncing ‘violence’ have all ignored Colombia’s tight relationship with the United States, which includes a permanent U.S. presence in Colombia, as well as high-level cooperation on security matters.

Social movements and unions in cities and rural areas of the country have stated their intention to remain mobilized in the streets with a wide range of new demands related to the serious economic, social and human rights crisis in Colombia.