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Celebrations as Colombian political prisoner Lily Obando officially released

By Tom Burke |
January 26, 2016
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Lily Obando
Lily Obando (Fight Back! News/Staff)

As the Colombian peace process enters its final months of negotiations, the Colombian government set Liliany (Lily) Obando free the week of Jan. 22. Obando is a leading and renowned human rights defender. While in prison, Lily Obando never ceased to raise her voice in protest against the ongoing and systemic violations of human rights by the INPEC (Colombian prisons administration), and turned the prison into a place of struggle.

A press release from Obando’s supporters said the court, “decreed the final release and restored the political rights and public office to the citizen Liliany Patricia Obando Villota, sociologist and graduate in Modern Languages.”

The statement concluded, “We greet and welcome Liliany Obando to her full freedom and thank each and everyone who expressed their solidarity to her in this long process. We invite all human rights organizations to continue fighting for the freedom of all the political prisoners and rally for their amnesty and pardon.”

There are upwards of 8000 political prisoners and prisoners of war in Colombia. It is expected that they will all be set free as part of the Colombian peace process.

Many groups in Colombia, including the International Network in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (INSPP) campaigned over many years for the freedom of Liliany Obando. Obando was subjected to a series of abnormal and outrageous arrests, prosecutions, long periods of detention without charges, and imprisonment. Back in 2008, Lily Obando was set free after serving three years for the charge of ‘rebellion.’ Police arrested Obando just as she was finishing an academic report and documentary movie about the union FENSUAGRO, and its 1500 members killed by Colombian military and paramilitaries over the past 30 years.

The freeing of Lily Obando is a good sign for the success of the Colombian peace process. As the time to sign the agreement draws near, the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is demanding the U.S. government release Simon Trinidad, held in the Florence supermax prison in Colorado, as well as Anayibe Rojas Valderama, or “Sonia” who is imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas.