Protesters of April 28 strike judicially persecuted in Colombia

In the last 40 years, Colombia has not seen a social mobilisation on the scale of the 28 April 2021 strike, to which the state has had only one response: violence. There were 89 murders, 192 forced disappearances, 1,929 people injured, 106 victims of gender-based violence, 3,546 arrests of protesters[1]  and 200 cases of criminalisation of protesters.

Since the beginning of the strike, more than 200 active members of the frontline have been arrested, most of them for crimes such as terrorism or premeditated crimes. One of the first events recorded was the arrest of 14 protesters at the end of April 2021, who were also beaten and tortured by members of the security forces[2].

Between the end of October and the beginning of November 2021, five members of the “front line” in Bogotá were charged, after several technical failures, with terrorism and theft.[3] And 13 young community leaders were charged with inciting and carrying out acts of terrorism, violence against public officials, damage to property and bodily injury.[4]

In the department of Boyacá, in mid-November 2021, mass arrests of frontline youths took place. Several raids were carried out by the judicial police in different homes of young people who had participated in the strike, recording the arrest of 3 people for the alleged commission of a conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of dangerous objects and assaulting a state employee.[5] Among the arrests was that of a young environmental leader, associated with people involved in politics and movements opposing the government.

The criminalisation and judicial persecution suffered by members of the front lines is such that the ‘Blue Shields’, a front line in Bogotá, have requested precautionary measures to ensure their physical and legal safety before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is in addition to the judicial persecution suffered by peasant leaders and organisations, demonstrating a systematic practice that undermines the political participation of popular sectors.

Photo: AFP

[1] Según información de la Campaña Defender la Libertad. Ver: El sometimiento de la democracia. Un balance del derecho a la protesta social en Colombia en el año 2021. Disponible en:

[2] En libertad los 14 detenidos por vandalismo en medio de las protestas. El Heraldo. Abril 30 de 2021. Disponible en:

[3] Legalizan captura de presuntos integrantes de la ‘primera línea’ en Suba, acusados de terrorismo. Revista Semana. Edición del 29 de octubre de 2021. Disponible en:

[4] Capturados 13 presuntos integrantes de la primera línea señalados de vandalismo. El País. Edición de 9 de noviembre de 2021. Disponible en:

[5] Allanamientos a viviendas de jóvenes que participaron en el paro nacional de Paipa. W Radio. Nota del 22 de noviembre de 2021. Disponible en: