The Global Education Union condemns threats, harassment and murders of trade unionists

The Executive Board of Education International has passed a resolution condemning human rights violations in Colombia that have resulted in thousands of unionist deaths.

Decades of attacks on human rights and the lives of more than a thousand trade unionists and social activists were at the center of a resolution adopted today, December 9th, by the Executive Board of Education International, which is meeting for the 56th time.

Attempts by groups controlling power in Colombia to eradicate social organization and mobilization, suppress protests, and suppress the right to organize and proclaim the validity of the public education system have resulted in thousands of victims, including many educators, who actively engaged their unions. According to the Colombian Educational Federation (FECODE), a member organization of Education International, since 1986 more than 1,100 teachers have been murdered during the armed conflict. According to the Institute for Development and Peace Research (Indepaz) in Bogota, more than 280 social leaders were murdered in Colombia in 2020.

Ongoing violence

Despite the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the guerrillas in 2016, the violence has continued. The conflict has taken the form of a territorial dispute that has resulted in the persecution and stigmatization of activists without the government taking any measures to protect their lives and ensure their safety and the free exercise of their right to organize and to disagree.

Both educators and social leaders were murdered simply for raising their voices to defend their rights and the validity of the public education system. Whenever the affiliates of the Executive Committee of Education International in Colombia – FECODE and the Federation of University Professors' Union (ASPU) – announce a mobilization to defend the rights, threats are issued to the lives of the members of their national or regional executive committees.

Government inaction

According to the Executive Board of Education International, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez has maintained "complicit silence" in the face of thousands of threats against FECODE and ASPU and the teaching profession. He has done this by lifting or denying security measures for union and social leaders while allowing the ruling party to attack the constitutional freedom of association and academic freedom.

International solidarity campaign

In the face of these threats, a major campaign of international solidarity was waged. More than 60 members of Education International have already asked the Colombian authorities to protect union leaders and members.

Education International has urged its affiliates to step up their demands that the government guarantee human rights and the right of trade unions and the teaching profession to work freely in Colombia.

You can access the full text of the resolution by clicking here.

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