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Open Statement from Sociology Graduates of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the National U

by Sociology Graduates, UNC Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017 at 11:34 PM

Open statement (translated to english, original in Spanish) of Sociology Graduates of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the National University of Colombia, in response to the targeting against those who belong to this university as scapegoats for terrorist acts by state authorities and the media

Open Statement from Sociology Graduates of the Faculty of Human Sciences at the National University of Colombia

Monday 26 June 2017

We, the graduates of Sociology, reject vehemently the way in which the General Prosecution of the Nation and National Police have gone about stigmatizing and persecuting systematically people who belong to public universities, in particular, those who are part of the National University of Colombia.

Through the 'Witch Hunt' that have come out of rushed results by the National Police and the National General Prosecution, captured were eight people presumably linked to the MRP - Movimiento Revolucionario del Pueblo, since, according to the words of Néstor Humberto Martínez, these were responsable for the lamentable attempt committed on 17 June in the Andino shopping centre. Yesterday, they captured another person presumed to be responsible for the attempt.

It appears to us to be completely strange and suspicious the speed with which the 'results' that have come about from the authorities' investigation, given the slowness of the investigative processes that characterise the Prosecutors Department. We consider to be terribly concerning that our compañeras and compañeros of the National University of Colombia are being made victims of political persecution by the Colombian state.

What is known as 'Judicial False Positives' are nothing new in our country, nor are aggressions against people who belong to the National University of Colombia, and especially the department of Sociology. One of the most aberrant cases of this illegal proceeding has been the violation of liberty and political persecution by the state against Doctor Miguel Angel Beltrán, professor of the sociology department, who had to spend two prolonged periods imprisoned, accused of belonging to FARC, through supposed evidence that have linked him to ghe guerrilla group, the 'evidence' having been taken from supposed computers of Raúl Reyes.

It is also worth pointing out that these 'evidence' were obtained illegally in an air raid against our neighbouring country Ecuador that was ordered by our then president Alvaro Uribe, and by the then head and minister of Defence, Juan Manuel Santos.

In this case, and as is characteristic in other cases, the medias have lightly and irresponsably, togehter with other accusing bodies, presented the professor Beltrán to the Colombian society as a 'terrorist' of FARC, defaming his good name and violating his constitutional right of presumption of innocence.

Finally, facing the lack of solid evidence and after having damaged Professor Beltrán's image, and having affected his psychological and economic well-being, the Prosecutor had to order his immediate release and, to date, they have not carried out any act of compensation or reparation that mitigates the disgrace of which the professor was put through.

Another example of such judicial false positives was the capture of 'the 13', which took place on 8 July 2015. The then Vice Prosecutor, Jorge Perdomo and the National Police director of this time, Rodolfo Palomino, in an irresponsible way, affirmed before the media that the fire crackers that exploded in the Porvenir buildings on 2 July 2015 were the responsability of these 13 people 'supposed members of ELN'. This capture occurred six days following the incident.

It was due to the pressure of families, friends and political platforms, and given the weakness of supposed evidence, that the majority of these persons were freed. However, just as in the case of professor Beltrán, their image were destroyed, their rights made vulnerable and there was no attempt to any reparations for the damages caused.

Currently, Mateo Gutiérrez León, sociology student, is being imprisoned and faces a judicial process, accused in principle and according to versions from the media, of participating in the detonation of a propagandist bomb in La Macarena neighbourhood on 19 Febrery 2017. Mateo was captured on 23 Febrery 2017, four days following the incident, but, mysteriously, they also concluded that he was linked to other 'terrorist acts' that had nothing to do with what took place in the Macarena neighbourhood.

As is evident, the National General Prosecution, National Police and National Government, have set themselves on a 'Witch Hunt' in search of the presumed responsables of these terrorist acts, giving place to injustices and violations against dued process, against presumption of innocence and against other fundamental rights sacred in the political constitution. In this sense, the facts point to a clear political persecution against the disciplines that have tendencies towards critical thinking, and work towards procuring rights and social justice. Critical thinking is not terrorism.

We reject that the public university, in particular, National University of Colombia, continues to be the target of the state authorities as well as of the media in getting some quick reslults in the hour of putting on a show that they have captured people responsible for the terrorism. We raise our voices to express that the National University of Colombia, and the public university, are not the cradle of terrorism in this country, that the students, the graduates, and the knowledge and the actions that emerge from these spaces, cannot be arbitrarily stigmatized for the benefit of the intolerant investigative and judicial state authorities.

On the other hand, the assassination of social leaders - women and men; 35 such have been killed so far this year - defenders of processes of land restitution, of human rights, of the implementation of the peace agreements, is a clear example of the state incapacity to protect and investigate systematic abuses that have taken place in these terrible acts. It seems that the Prosecution is selective, while it pressures to irresponsably capture youths of the public universities who through their fields contribute to building peace, it at the same time allows others (eg linked to killings of social leaders) to move around freely in impunity around the national territories.

The graduates of sociology we reject the terrorist acts committed on 17 June in the Andino Shopping Centre, we also express our solidarity with the victims of this terrible act and with their families. We hope that the authorities in charge of the investigation act responsibly and quickly and that the medias responds in the same way and not with the lightness that some of these media outlets have been known for.

Lastly, we reject any form of violence, including state violence, we believe that in this time of the implementation of the Habana Peace Agreement and of the negotiations with ELN, that the Colombian society needs to be at the disposition towards resolution of conflicts through non-violent means which can strengthen us as community. We need to dispose of the dominant ideas of not recognising the other's humanity for being different.


"First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the intellecutals, and I also did not speak out

Then they came for the priests, and I did not speak out either,

since I was not a priest

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me"

Bertolt Brecht


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