Tom Burke, spokesperson for the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera, urgently requests, “Help and aid from Americans, Colombians, and the international community to stop a crime.” Professor Palmera is being put on trial in Colombia while held in solitary confinement in the U.S. He is being forced to wear prison clothes, shackled at the hands and feet and then chained together around the waist, with the ever-present threat of electrical shock if he moves too quickly. This ‘trial’ is a violation of Professor Palmera’s dignity and his rights as a prisoner of war. Tom Burke says, “There is nothing fair or just about the trials and imprisonment of this brave Colombian freedom fighter Ricardo Palmera. Ricardo Palmera should be set free.”
Professor Palmera is held by the U.S. government in solitary confinement, under inhumane conditions in the Florence, Colorado Supermax prison. Tom Burke says, “We need friends and sympathizers to support freedom for professor Ricardo Palmera (popularly known in Colombia as Simon Trinidad). We denounce the wrongs committed against Ricardo Palmera by the U.S. and Colombian governments, along with the abuses and violations of human rights.”
Following four unfair trials in Washington D.C., including one where Chief Judge Hogan was forced to step down after cheating with U.S. Prosecutor Ken Kohl, Professor Palmera is now the victim of a new judge, named Montado, sent by the corrupt Colombian government of President Uribe.
In a public denouncement, Ramiro Orjuela Aguilar, Palmera’s Colombian lawyer said “Ricardo Palmera is in chains, with electric shock equipment attached to his body that paralyzes him if he moves abruptly. This is the third time this happened in front of the ‘virtual’ courts of Neiva.” The Colombian government is accusing Palmera of planning a FARC guerrilla attack that killed six travelers and injured six more on May 7, 2000.
“Ricardo Palmera is handcuffed, with his feet shackled, and then chains running between his hands, waist and feet” says the Lawyer Orjuela Aguilar. “He is taken to the courtroom with a machine that shocks him. They attach equipment to his body so if Ricardo moves too much, then it shocks him with enough voltage to paralyze him. During the trials, he cannot move easily enough to see the documents in front of him,” the lawyer explained.
Ricardo Palmera was one of the negotiators in the discussions for peace between the Colombian government of Andres Pastrana (1998-2002) and the guerrilla organization FARC-EP that ended in San Vincente del Cagauan, in Caqueta, Colombia.
Following these negotiations in 2002, Palmera was illegally detained in Ecuador by U.S. intelligence agents, then extradited, put on trial, and imprisoned by the U.S. government. Palmera went to Ecuador to meet James Lemoyne, a UN official working for the prevention and resolution of internal conflicts, including the 60-year-old social and armed conflict in Colombia.
Next Palmera faced four trials in Washington DC. Two of the trials were repeated because the American juries refused to convict Palmera. The U.S. State Department demanded new trials, until Palmera was found guilty of one charge – membership in the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). During the four trials Palmera was proud to say and explain why he belongs to the FARC, the largest rebel guerrilla army in Latin America. However, the U.S. government defines FARC as a criminal conspiracy.
There is nothing normal about Ricardo Palmera’s case: the UN official was not allowed to testify in his trials, he is held in solitary confinement, the U.S. press cannot interview him, he cannot make phone calls, he is not allowed to interact with other humans, to breath fresh air, nor to see the sky. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera recently denounced the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for not allowing Professor Palmera to read letters sent by his American supporters.
Instead of allowing a peaceful negotiation to the 60-year-old armed conflict, the U.S. is choosing war. The U.S. government is abusing the U.S. court system in an effort to criminalize the national liberation struggle of the Colombian people. Tens of thousands of Colombian revolutionaries are not criminals. Solidarity is necessary and urgently needed. The National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera urges friends and sympathizers to denounce U.S. authorities for these violations against this brave fighter for peace, justice, and the Colombian people. Free Ricardo Palmera!
“Free Ricardo Palmera” letters can be addressed to:
Eric Holder, the US Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
To contact the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Tom Burke 773-844-3612.