New protests in Colombia amid concern over violence


Colombians around the country were preparing to demonstrate on Monday against police brutality, massacres and labour policies amid concern that the rallies could turn violent.

Protesters started to gather in several parts of Bogota, City TV reported. Trade unions, student and civil society organizations had called for marches or car caravans also in half a dozen other cities.

The rallies followed three days of violent protests in the second week of September, after two police officers were accused of killing a man in Bogota.

The officers accused law student Javier Ordonez of violating coronavirus restrictions, shocked him with a stun pistol and took him to a police station, where he was allegedly beaten to death.

The subsequent rioting reportedly claimed 13 lives amid accusations that police had fired indiscriminately at demonstrators.

Thousands of police were deployed in Bogota to prevent further unrest on Monday, but police chief Oscar Atehortua said police would no longer use firearms.

In addition to protesting police brutality, the demonstrators were on Monday calling on President Ivan Duque’s government to stop massacres by armed groups.

About 60 massacres have claimed more than 200 lives in Colombia so far this year, including seven people killed in the south-west on Sunday.

In addition, the protesters criticized government policies which they saw as making it easier for employers to pay workers by the hour, and demanded the elimination of university fees during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Andean country already saw a string of large-scale anti-government rallies late last year.

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