The University and College Union has invited an imprisoned academic, Dr Miguel Angel Beltran, to address our Congress which takes place in Manchester in a month’s time, from 30 May to 1 June. In fact, Dr Beltran is expected to be in court in Bogota at that time, after a year in prison without trial. He is now accused of ‘rebellion’, which is a term we believe the government is using to suppress legitimate, peaceful inquiry and criticism by a respected academic. UCU is working to ensure that the trial of Dr Beltran is as fair and open to public scrutiny as circumstances permit, and we are urging the British embassy in Bogota to attend the trial as an indication of the international community’s interest in this case. Details of Dr Beltran’s case are here:
The latest letter by our General Secretary Sally Hunt to the British embassy in Bogota is reproduced below.
We would welcome other pressure by the international academic and trade union communities for a fair trial and the release of Dr Beltran. If you would like further information about the case of Dr Beltran, please contact me or Justice for Colombia < http://justiceforcolombia.org/ >
Thank you for your interest and support.
Senior National Official
Letter from UCU to the British embassy in Bogota
To: ‘Oriel.Willock@fco.gov.uk’ <Oriel.Willock@fco.gov.uk>
Sent: Tue Apr 27 11:46:24 2010
Subject: Dr Beltran
Thank you for your reply of 20 April to my email and I realise I am now on my second reply to that but having talked with others I’ve had further more considered thoughts.
I would strongly assert that the case against Miguel Angel Beltran is not only a judicial matter as it is a clearly politically motivated case- he has been held without trial for nearly a year on charges of ‘rebellion’. He is in fact an academic and a trade unionist, plain and simple.
There is evidence that many other innocent trade unionists and others have been held on this charge for months without trial. For example, the recent case of trade unionist Alirio Garcia, detained August 2009, on charges of ‘rebellion’. He was detained for more than six months without trial, and when the trial finally took place, he was absolved of the charges and set free 25th March 2010. I am worried the same is happening here with no guarantee of freedom.
Chris Bryant has said in a parliamentary debate, that the charge of ‘rebellion’ “certainly does not seem like a law that respects human rights”. I believe Dr. Beltran’s case is analogous, and this is a politically motivated case against a critical academic.
Since you last wrote I still haven’t heard from the foreign office and also now , numerous letters from academics in this country have been sent to the minister.
Please. Would you think again or ask the ambassador to consider representations being made from the British Embassy or to send an observer? The trial is in Bogota and I honestly feel that having an observer from the Embassy could help make the trial fairer or possibly enable a reconsideration of the charges.
General Secretary University and College Union
International spokesperson TUC General Council