Colombia’s defense minister said Monday that 134 alleged anti-government government activists have been arrested over the past week.
The alleged members of so-called “Frontline” groups were arrested “for a variety of crimes,” Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Twitter.
Young people formed frontline groups in cities throughout Colombia in response to violent attempts to crackdown of largely peaceful protests against far-right President Ivan Duque in April.
The violence has left at least 79 people dead and more than 1,900 people injured, according to human rights organizations.
The police brutality triggered the human rights commission of the Organization of American States to create a special monitoring mechanism for Colombia.
In turn, the government has consistently claimed the protests were aligned with a “low-intensity terrorism campaign,” and has accused the Frontline groups that have set up urban “resistance” points of being criminal groups.
Sine April, more than 3,350 protesters have been detained, “a large number through arbitrary procedures” and “were submitted to torture and/or cruel and inhumane treatment,” according to human rights organization Defender La Libertad.
The IACHR has pointed out that, due to structural and historical discrimination, Afro-descendants and members of indigenous peoples, as well as residents of geographic areas in situations of poverty and extreme poverty, are more exposed to racial profiling practices by State security forces, and therefore to being arbitrarily detained and abused.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
The mass arrests spurred hundreds of lawyers to form the “Judicial Frontline,” which provides free legal aid to detained anti-government protesters.
These lawyers have successfully secured the release of a number of the protesters whose arrests were announced by Molano.
These arrests were deemed arbitrary and thus illegal by judges before the defense minister took to Twitter to boast the fake results of his “fight against crime.”