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This high-ranking official put a price tag on the capture of young people, most of whom are social leaders of well-known organizations.
Colombia's human rights defenders on Sunday called for the resignation of Defense Minister Diego Molano and rejected statements through which he stigmatized citizens who have been protesting against President Ivan Duque.
"Molano could affect any agreement between the government and the Strike Committee's representatives. His provocative and stigmatizing speech against protesters will prevent the country from returning to calm," human rights advocate Alirio Uribe said.
On Friday, Molano justified the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron (ESMAD)'s brutal attack on protesters in Popayan City by describing them as "vandals" and "members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidence."
Molano's statements unleashed a wave of criticism, as he even put a price on the capture of a group of young people, who are mostly social leaders of recognized organizations.
#MVFACT#Colombia NGO's death toll data following protests mounts as national unrest continues. Iván Duque has brutally responded to the protests with the same militarized police force he often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime. pic.twitter.com/L1hiclGSZB
"What he did is dangerous and irresponsible. His statements were not considered during the security council we held in Popayan after Friday's violent incidents," Cauca governor Elias Larrahondo assured.
The Institute for Development and Peace Studies (INDEPAZ) also rejected the minister's unfounded statements and called for proper investigations into the events in Popayan before holding innocent people responsible.
"Jose Gallego is a philosophy student at the University of Cauca, Andres Maiz is an Indigenous community member, and Andres Duque is a social leader... They are not paramilitaries, nor vandals, as the minister claims," INDEPAZ stressed.