The Guardian 28 September, 2005

police shoot and kill student protestor

On September 22, students at the University of Valle in the city of Cali held a peaceful protest on their campus to draw attention to the fact that the authorities had cut-off the drinking water supply to the nearby poor neighbourhood of Villa Gorgona. In the late afternoon Colombian riot police moved into the campus in tanks and fired tear gas at the students in an attempt to break up the protest.

The police subsequently opened fire on the students with live rounds and at approximately 7pm shot and killed 21-year-old chemistry student and student union activist Jhony Silva Aranjuren. Psychology student German Perdomo was also shot and is currently in intensive care.

This most recent crime is only the latest in a series of attacks against Colombian students. Some examples of the many other cases include:

On September 15 the Colombian Army attacked a student protest at the University of Tolima indiscriminately shooting at the students. Eight students were taken away by the military and have not yet been released — their whereabouts are unclear.

On September 9, Colombian riot police entered the University of Francisco de Paula Santander in the city of Cucuta. The police fired tear gas and violently beat various students including a secondary school student who was visiting the university. During this incident the riot police also attacked the 11-year-old son of a worker in the university cafeteria. The child was stripped naked by the police and then brutally beaten whilst other officers filmed and photographed the incident.

On September 7 the homes of various University of Tolima students were raided by the Colombian police at 4am. Two of those targeted, Diana Moreno and German Acosta, were taken away by the police and, though they have not been charged with any crime, they remain in detention.

On August 17 members of the Colombian Navy kidnapped a leader of the student union at the University of Cartagena. Edgar de Jesus Avendano Perez was forced into a car that subsequently passed unhindered through various police checkpoints before reaching the outskirts of the city of Cartagena where he was tortured and threatened with execution.

On July 27 police officers in the city of Riohacha murdered student leader Jahir Estrada Mendoza of the University of Riohacha. The police, who have not been investigated or punished in any way, then dressed his corpse in military fatigues and attempted to present him as a guerrilla killed in combat.

On May 1 riot police beat to death 15-year-old Nicolas Neira during the May Day march in the Colombian capital Bogotá.

Readers are urged to send protest letters to the Colombian Government
about the ongoing attacks against Colombian students by the security forces
(please add in a specific mention of at least one of the above cases).
Mail to: Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón at

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