Student Killed by Anti Riot Squad in Bogota
Oscar Leonardo Salas, a linguistic student from the University of Bogotá, was killed during a protest in the Colombia capital the 8 March 2006. He was 20 years old. Students were holding a protest at of the National University of Bogotá against the singing by the Colombian government of the Andean Free Trade Treaty with the US, Peru and Ecuador.
It is reported that agents from the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD: Escuadrón de Asesinos Móviles al Servicio de Uribe y la Oligarquía), a unit of the National Police, tired to disperse the protest attacking the students at close range with tear gas grenades and rubber bullets.
At around 1.20pm of the 8 March 2006, Salas was hit in the face by either a tear gas grenade or a rubber bullet which apparently passed through his eye and lodged in his brain. He was then taken to a local clinic, but doctors were unable to save him; he was pronounced brain dead and disconnected from artificial life support early the next morning.
The Colombia Association of University Students issued a statement denouncing these events and declaring that ‘ESMAD riot police clearly overreacted to what was a peaceful protest, reflecting the national police that President Alvaro Uribe Velez has implemented to repress opposition social movements’.
On the aftermath hundreds of students marched on the 9 March in Bogota to protest Salas' death and to demand the immediate dismantling of the ESMAD.
NEAR is seriously concerned and has issued several alerts about the situation in Colombia, were University Professors, trade unionist and students are, with increasing frequency, attacked, harassed and often killed in Colombia. (Please see related NEAR Alerts).
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