Source: Nodal, Facebook, TeleSUR TV / The Dawn News / April 20, 2018
The hunger strike
Jesús Santrich, member of the political leadership of the FARC, has been on hunger strike since April 9.
The leader of the former guerrilla—now a political organization since the signing of the Peace Agreements with the government—has been detained and remains in prison. However, his hunger strike is not about that.
“As for myself, I don’t want anything”, he explained in a communiqué issued on April 10, “because as I have said before: we are going through a period of treachery. I’d rather be dead than imprisoned”.
What he does expect to bring forth with his hunger strike is: “freedom for all political prisoners, the fulfillment of everything that was agreed upon in Havana [where the peace negotiations took place], reparations for the victims [of the armed conflict between the Colombian state and the guerrilla], and for the government to stop threatening the FARC with extradition”.
Santrich was arrested at the request of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) via the United States Embassy in Colombia, accusing him of drug trafficking.
A U.S. federal judge had written to the Colombian attorney general on April 4 making the request for the arrest of Santrich and asked that Colombian authorities seize and make available all his electronic and computer storage systems, bank accounting and money transfer information, and any firearms associated with the accused. The United States now has 60 days to ratify the extradition request.
Santrich’s lawyer told El Tiempo that his case will have to be reviewed first by the Special Peace Jurisdictions set up by the peace accord. He insisted that no evidence had been revealed against his client, one week after his arrest.
The defense considers that the detention and capture of the 51-year-old former guerrilla leader is illegal and irregular. But the request for an habeas corpus measure was rejected last Monday. The next step for Santrich’s defense will be contesting this decision by the Superior Court of Bogotá and request a second hearing at the Supreme Court of Justice.
The FARC has demanded the immediate release of Santrich and other 600 ex-fighters that are detained inside and outside Colombia, despite the passing of an amnesty law.
Pablo Beltrán, leader of the ELN guerrilla, currently negotiating a potential peace agreement with the Colombian government, has called this case “meddling, clearly, by the United States government to trash the peace process”, and said that Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, approves of that strategy.
The UN “calls on the state institutions to assess current developments with the utmost discernment, bearing in mind that the decisions taken will have profound consequences for the peace process in Colombia,” said the international organization in a press release.