“This is a victory of people’s movements,” declared Julián Gil as he left the prison and was greeted by dozens of family members, friends as well as militants and leaders of his organization Congreso de los Pueblos (the People’s Congress). Gil, who worked as the technical secretary of the organization was arrested 902 days ago outside the organization’s office and falsely accused of having participated in and planned acts of terrorism.
On Tuesday November 24, the Specialized Judge of Cundinamarca absolved Gil of all charges and declared that he should be released immediately. Gil had been accused of rebellion and pertaining to the insurgent group National Liberation Army (ELN) as well as of trafficking and transportation of explosives and arms. The charges were levelled based on one testimony which, Gil’s defense pointed out, was contradictory in explaining how Gil was allegedly involved in the crimes. The prosecution team was unable to find any evidence to support the unreliable testimony, but kept him in prison while they attempted to build a case.
Since day one, Julián and Congreso affirmed his innocence as well as the deeply political nature of his arrest and incarceration. They classified it as another attempt of the Colombian state to silence those who dare to think differently and fight for a country with peace and dignity, against the interests of the ruling class.
Following the announcement on Tuesday, members of Congreso de los Pueblos gathered outside La Picota Prison where Julian has been held for the past 900 days in order to pressure the prison authorities to release him. However, they informed that the process was delayed and he would not be released until Wednesday. Finally on Wednesday November 25, at around 19:00h, Julián was free.
Throughout the 900 days, Julian never lost hope or determination. The prison became his new trench of struggle from where he and other prisoners in his cell block organized libraries, donation drives and political education classes.
Following his release Julian declared that the struggle is far from over and that it must intensify so all prisoners are free. Gil declared: “This is why we are convinced that we must fight and transform all of this. Together we can achieve this comrades. The hope and joy of all of you always has been contagious and we will continue in the fight for a long time.”