World-renowned philosopher Noam Chomsky called on the Colombian government Friday to release prisoner David Ravelo, a prominent human rights defender who was controversially imprisoned in 2010.
In a letter addressed to President Juan Manuel Santos, the MIT linguistic professor, together with nearly 300 individuals and organizations, demanded Ravelo be released, arguing he has been a victim of a “long, unvarying record of injustice.”
Ravelo was arrested in 2010 for the murder of the municipal officer David Núñez Cala in 1991 and sentenced to 18 years in jail.
According to the letter, the sentence was based on false testimony and motivated by political interests.
As a labor organizer and member of the Patriotic Union party, Ravelo was actively involved in campaigns to curtail the power of paramilitaries.
In 2007, Ravelo circulated a video showing then-President Alvaro Uribe socializing with Barrancabermeja paramilitary leaders in 2001.
The letter claims “the video, embarrassing to President Uribe, provoked his taking action against Ravelo.”
During the trial, there was also a number of judicial abnormalities, the letter continues.
This included testimony from bribed prisoners, the denial of 30 defense witnesses and a four-week delay between the conviction and the announcement of the conviction, a mishandling considered a “flagrant violation of due process.”
Family members and supporters of Ravelo were also subjected to “paramilitary death threats and harassment while the trial was in progress,” according to the open letter.
Chomsky, along with leading social organizations and activists from across the world, has condemned the handling of Ravelo’s case and demanded the political prisoner receive justice.
“Ravelo,” the letter explains, “is emblematic of thousands of political prisoners in limbo now as Colombia implements its peace accord. Imprisoned combatants and civilian political prisoners may soon be eligible for amnesty.
“Ravelo needs to be one of them.”
The letter comes after Huber Ballesteros, a renowned campesino union leader and political prisoner in Colombia, was freed last week as part of the peace process after 40 months behind bars.