Colombian nationals protest in Glasgow and Edinburgh against violent government

Demonstrations in Edinburgh and across the UK have taken place to force the British and Scottish governments into challenging their Colombian counterpart on their human rights.

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The Colombian community in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London has been demonstrating and standing in solidarity with its fellow citizens in Colombia, who have been protesting against President Ivan Duque and his government.

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Demonstrations took place at the Iron Duke monument on Princes Street with demonstrators showing their solidarity with protestors in Columbia.

Several demonstrations have also taken place in George Square, Glasgow.

Those involved are hoping to pressure the Scottish Government and UK Government into condemning the acts of violence propagated by the state against Columbian citizens.

Maria Reyes Mesa, who runs communications for Columbian citizens in Edinburgh, said: “The number of missing people varies according to the source, but Human Rights organisations claim there are more than 300 people whose whereabouts are still unknown who took part in protests. There are also 10 cases of sexual violence allegedly by the police, and thousands of injured.

“We call on the Columbian government to withdraw all of their troops from the cities and to guarantee the safety of protestors. The government must also now commit to improving healthcare, education, policing and look towards introducing a universal basic income.

The Colombian government has come under severe pressure for their use of violence against protesters domestically.

“We hope that both the UK and Scottish governments can pressure the Columbian government into committing to respecting human rights and to engage with demonstrators genuinely.”

On May 12 statistics were released showing that 42 people had been killed during protests - one of which was a police officer.

Demonstrations began on April 28 as protestors rallied against a proposed tax reform that would hurt middle-low earners in the country.

The government had argued that this was a necessary step to help the economically challenged nation.

Colombian protests in Edinburgh

GDP plummeted by 6.8 percent in 2020 whilst unemployment shot up as the coronavirus pandemic caused economic chaos.

After four days of protest in late April, Duque said that he would cancel the tax reforms but from there things began to escalate.

It is believed that the protests are a continuation of those seen across 2019-20 where citizens hit out at rising levels of inequality.

As a result Protesters have blocked key roads leading to shortages of essentials in some areas.

Colombian demonstrators gather to demand action from UK and Scottish governments.

Since then the government has agreed to meet protest leaders but with more and more groups adding their demands, the demands have widened and a quick resolution seems unlikely.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government strongly supports the efforts being made in Colombia to uphold human rights and secure equality and social justice.

“We share the deep concerns over the violent response to peaceful protest expressed by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and call on the Colombian authorities to ensure that all human rights, including the right to life and the right to freedom of assembly, are fully protected.”

Wendy Morton MP, the FCDO Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, said: “I am deeply saddened by violence in Colombia. My thoughts are with the families of those who have died or been injured. The right to peaceful assembly and association must be guaranteed. We call for the end of violence, and the start of dialogue and transparent investigations.”

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