Article by PBI-Canada

After a police bullet killed 18-year-old Julieth Ramirez last September,  a local Centros de Atención Inmediata (police sub-station) was burned down, then reclaimed and transformed into a library with a portrait of Julieth.

Last September, the BBC World News reported (in Spanish): “The Supreme Court of Justice ordered the national government to take administrative measures that guarantee peaceful protest because the control forces are making a ‘systematic, violent and arbitrary intervention’ against protesters.”

That ruling stated the “uncontrolled activities represent a risk, a serious and current threat for those who intend to go out and mobilize to peacefully express their opinions. …Far from being isolated, [this] is constant and reflects a permanent aggression.”

PBI-Colombia explains: “Several non-governmental organizations, lawyer collectives and student movements had felt the need to demand the protection of the right to social protest [through this constitutional action].”

Among the authors of that court challenge were dhColombia, the CCAJAR lawyers’ collective, and the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), three organizations accompanied by PBI-Colombia.

After the historic court ruling, the CSPP tweeted: “This is thanks to the efforts of the victims of police violence, human rights organizations, professors and students from the Universidad de los Andes and Rosario.”

Unfortunately now, Colombia Reports notes: “The government of Colombia’s far-right President Ivan Duque asked the Constitutional Court to revoke a Supreme Court order that restricted the use of police violence against protests.”

PBI-Colombia comments: “There is still a long road ahead with many obstacles for protesters and those who defend the rights of peaceful protest, but the glimmer of hope has never been completely extinguished.”

It adds: “In a CAI in the city of Bogota, the site of the death of citizen Julieth Ramirez which was completely destroyed and burned by protesters, the community built a library two days after the event. And it is not the only site: all over the capital city the population began to transform those sites of fear into cultural and commemorative sites.”

To read the full article by the PBI Bogotá Field Team, please see Social Protest in Colombia: The Hope for a Dignified Life for All.

The Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE): “A group of people convert what used to be a CAI [police sub-station] into a library, in homage to Julieth Ramírez, who was murdered last Wednesday by the police. Torture spaces turned into living spaces!”