April 27, 2012

Liliany Obando is Free!

Liliany Obando 

by Kevin Neish

The Colombian government arrested Liliany Obando four years ago on August 8 2008, the mother of two, was serving as human rights director and fund raiser for Fensuagro, Colombia’s largest agricultural workers’ union. A week earlier, she had issued a report documenting 1500 union members murdered or disappeared since 1976. Trade unionist, outspoken progressive and documentary film maker, Obando's release is a victory for the people's struggle in her country and Latin America. - RY

On Thursday night, after waiting outside the Buen Pastor prison gates late into the night, Liliany Obando was finally released into the arms of about 70 overjoyed supporters.

Supporters greet labour activist Liliany Obando as she's released from prison.

In particular a bus full of British trade union activists happened to be in Bogota and so added a much needed internationalist presence, as I am the last internationalist left here from the recent political prisoner conference.

Telesur was the only media to attend the release and has given Liliany extensive coverage on their website. The rightwing controlled media here in Colombia has tried to completely ignore Liliany's release, or else they attack her.

On the night of her release, it was very interesting watching the off duty guards timidly walking through the crowd of Liliany supporters. I have spent dozen or so mornings waiting for hours to enter this prison while these same guards arrogantly stride around barking orders and trying to intimidate the visitors. For once the shoe was on the other foot and it was obvious that the guards did not like it at all.

Liliany and her family are now in great danger from right wing death squads, like the Black Eagles, who threatened all the participants at the recent conference.

One very good response tho ugh came from the British embassy, which invited Liliany to lunch with the ambassador and has issued a letter to the Colombian government expressing concern for the safety of Liliany. Of course a piece of paper will not guarantee her safety but all the internationalist support that has been flowing into her little apartment is very heartening.

Sadly just a day before her release a new political prisoner arrived in her cell block and has now made Liliany's former cell her new home, unfortunately likely for a very long time.

This makes the point that there are 7500 more political prisoners still languishing in Colombian prisons. The first thing Liliany announced upon her release was that she would continue to work for her jailed companeras and companeros freedom.

Thank you all for your support and well wishes. Liliany sends her hugs to everyone.

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