LabourStart and Education International have launched an international campaign to free imprisoned Colombian academic Miguel Ángel Beltrán Villegas. Dr Ángel Beltrán Villegas, Associate Professor of Sociology at the National University of Colombia, was tried in 2009 by Álvaro Uribe’s government, on charges of “rebellion” and “breaking the law for terrorist purposes”. One year after his imprisonment there has been no evidence to support the allegations against him. During his teaching career, Dr Ángel Beltrán Villegas has published various articles and academic papers questioning the official version of the Colombian civil war. He has also criticised Colombia’s education policy and human rights abuses in the country. Education International is deeply concerned that professor Beltrán has been imprisoned for his political beliefs, like so many other teachers in Colombia, without having committed any crime.
Dr Beltrán has written to his students from jail encouraging them to continue to campaign for democratic freedoms.
“It is through open and pluralistic debate of ideas – not of the silence and the adulation of individual thought – that the university can guarantee the fulfilment of its social function and be elevated to a true instrument for social transformation… My academic life has closely been linked to the fight for democratic ideals, first as a student, later as a teacher and now as political prisoner of an establishment that criminalises committed educational work.”
You can send an email supporting Dr Ángel Beltrán Villegas at the Labour Start website.