9 October 2008 Edition
Campaign to free Liliany Obando
BY EMMA CLANCY
COLOMBIAN trade unionist and human rights activist Liliany Obando was arrested on 8 August by anti-terrorism police and charged with “rebellion” against the state in what she has called a “new witch-hunt against the political opposition in Colombia”.
Obando is a leading activist in the agricultural workers’ federation FENSUAGRO and has travelled to Europe, Australia and other international destinations outlining the human rights violations of the Colombian Government, led by President Alvaro Uribe.
Writing an “open letter to the national and international community” from Bogota Women’s Prison, Obando explained that on 22 May, Colombia’s attorney-general launched cases against a list of political activists, in which she was included, who the Government claimed were implicated in illegal activities by e-mails found on the laptop of FARC commander Raúl Reyes after he was killed by the Colombian military when it bombed Ecuador on 1 March.
Obando has rejected the e-mails as valid evidence “not only because they were obtained after an illegitimate act of war” but also “because a cloud of doubt exists over their veracity and the manipulation they were subjected to”.
The mother-of-two is appealing the decision to deny her home detention to care for her children (aged 15 and five) and her mother. Her letter also expresses “profound concern” at the state surveillance of her 15-year-old son since her imprisonment.
Several political activists are now accused of illegal actions based solely on “evidence” from this magic laptop, which not only managed to survive the bombing but also just happened to contain uncoded evidence against anyone and everyone the Colombian Government has a problem with: the Venezuelan and Ecuadorian Governments, as well as leading pro-democracy activists in Colombia.
A report by Ecuador’s public prosecution proves through the timestamps of the files that the Colombian army manipulated the so-called FARC computers before handing copies of those files over to Interpol and the Ecudorian Government.
Obando writes: “I request the solidarity of all progressive and human rights organisations and ask them to take the necessary measures for the protection of my family.”
The full text of Obando’s letter and more information about the international campaign for her release are available at http://freeliliany.org.