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  • A student blows soap bubbles at a policeman during a march in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 28, 2018.

    A student blows soap bubbles at a policeman during a march in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 28, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 December 2018

As part of a strike that began on Oct. 11, Colombian university students mobilize to reject violence against social leaders and rights defenders.

Colombians march Thursday in nationwide protests. The National Union of Higher Education Students (Unees) announced that these mobilizations will be in rejection of the recent wave of killings of social leaders.

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"We will mobilize throughout the country to reject the murder of social leaders and the violation of human rights, as well as to defend public higher education," said Santiago Gomez, a spokesman for Unees in Antioquia.

According to Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, 74 community leaders have been killed between Jan.1 and Nov. 27. 

Over 400 social leaders have been killed since the Colombian state signed a peace agreement with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), whose demobilized fighters are also being targeted in the country.

The agreement signed in 2016 ended the military conflict between the Colombian armed forces and FARC but violence is rampant in Colombia's rural areas, where drug trafficking networks and paramilitary forces retain territorial control.

Colombia: The students mobilized for two months dream of yellow vests?

Colombian students have organized ten nation-wide protests so far, within which expressions of creativity and peaceful strategies have predominated.

In addition to convening street demonstrations, the students have participated in 12 talks with Colombian authorities during the past two months.

However, the government, represented by the Ministry of Education has been unable or unwilling to secure a higher dubget for Colombia's historically underfinanced public education

Student mobilizations will resume on Jan. 17, 2019 if there is no agreement with President Ivan Duque's government.

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