"The ESMAD treats peaceful protesters like soldiers from an enemy army. President Duque cannot continue to legitimize its excessive violence. He must respect the right to protest," Alternative Indigenous and Social Movement President Martha Peralta stated.
Although the Duque administration promised these forces would ensure the safety of demonstrators, the ESMAD used tanks, tear gas, and stun bombs to suppress protesters in Cali City, where a minor suffered eye injuries from these attacks.
In Bucaramanga City, these forces also surrounded the Santander Industrial University (UIS) where underage and injured protesters were trapped. "Officers must defend civil society, not repress it," Bogota Councilman Luis Leal condemned.
The violence in Colombia is out of control. Trade unionists and human rights defenders are being targeted every single day.
On Tuesday, opposition senator Ivan Cepeda sent a report on the cases of police and military violence during the April anti-government protests to the International Criminal Court (ICC). He denounced delays in the investigations against the officers who committed crimes and the lack of impartiality in the judicial processes already opened.
"Our prosecutors have not investigated the higher echelons for these crimes but have confined themselves to convicting a few perpetrators," Cepeda stressed.
On Tuesday, social organization "We Are Defenders" recalled that officers have perpetrated 35 percent of the aggressions registered against Colombian social leaders so far this year. "Anti-government protests exacerbated widespread violence against social leaders in our country," this NGO Coordinator Lourdes Castro stated.