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Eighty-four activists of the Movement Rios Vivos (in Defense of Territory and People Affected by Dams) were arrested without a warrant on Saturday morning, while they were peacefully demonstrating against Hidroituango dam in Valle de Toledo municipality, Antioquia department, Colombia.
After the arrest, they were taken by ESMAD (riot police) officers to a court in El Valle de Toledo, in Antioquia, where they tried to press charges against 12 of the 84 persons in Donmatias municipality.
CENSAT-Agua Viva/ Friends of the Earth Colombia, a member of environmental organization Friends of the Earth International, issued a press release to expose the illegal detention of the activists of Rios Vivos. They were demonstrating against a hydroelectric project owned by Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM), “and the government and the company are now trying to criminalize the environmental and social struggle in Colombia”.
Real World Radio’s correspondent in Colombia and member of CENSAT, Danilo Urrea, reported on the incidents. He is also the press officer of Rios Vivos.
At Donmatias there was a hearing with the prosecutors where charges were filed against 12 people. However, the judge considered that the arrest was illegal and they were released on Sunday midnight.
“The day of protests began on March 10th aimed to expose the social, cultural and environmental impacts of Hidroituango Project. However, the national and departmental authorities have violated the constitutional right to freedom of speech and demonstration”, claims CENSAT in its release. “During the day of mobilization the riot police threw tear gases to try to disperse the demonstrators and some police officers dressed in civilian clothes stayed in the areas”.
The demonstrations took place at the “International Day of Action Against Dams, for Rivers, Water and Life”, celebrated on March 14. Similar actions were held in tens of countries around the world.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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