President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Dear President Santos,
The undersigned are writing to call for the immediate release of Dr. Miguel Ángel Beltrán, a university lecturer and trade unionist. Dr. Beltrán was sent to prison in May 2009 by the Álvaro Uribe government, charged with rebellion and breaking the law for terrorist purposes. One year after his imprisonment there has been no evidence to support the allegations against him.
We are deeply concerned that professor Beltrán has been imprisoned for his political beliefs, like so many other teachers in Colombia, without having committed any crime.
We firmly believe that freedom of thought and expression is not something to be granted by the state, but rather is a fundamental human right, necessary for understanding between peoples. We also believe that when the freedom to debate ideas and opinions is obstructed, the effective working of the democratic process is limited. The detention of Dr. Beltrán shows that Colombia does not respect these fundamental human and trade union rights.
The large number of political prisoners in Colombian prisons – be they academics, trade unionists or other social activists – and the number of unionised teachers that have been murdered are also proof that human rights are not respected by the Colombia state.
On behalf of teachers throughout the world, we therefore urge you to put an end to this shameful situation by ordering the immediate release of Dr. Beltrán.