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Colombia: Take Action to Protect Threatened Earth Defenders

Posted in: Activism Guide, Colombia
    Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 23:23

    Can you imagine risking your life to defend land, water and oxygen? That is an everyday reality for courageous community leaders in Colombia who protect natural resources from the economic interests that threaten them. 

    Campesino, Afro-descendent and Indigenous defenders of territory and the environment in Colombia are facing a terrifying increase in threats, attacks and assassinations. Hundreds have been killed in the last two years alone. According to the latest report by Front Line Defenders, Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend land, Indigenous territory and the environment.

    As the bloodshed continues, women defenders face the additional threat of sexual violence against them or their daughters. 

    Colombian authorities promise programs to protect defenders and their communities yet fail to implement them. Meanwhile, companies are allowed to proceed with projects that damage the environment, violate rights and fuel violence.

    TAKE ACTION ... STARTING IN OCTOBER

    This fall, Amnesty Canada will continue to mobilize activism in support of Isabel Zuleta and members of the Rios Vivos Movement (Spanish for Living Rivers), persecuted for denouncing a disastrous big dam project financed with millions of dollars of public money by Export Development Canada. Thousands of messages of concern sent by Amnesty supporters have brought Canadian authorities to the table to seek solutions. 

    But as repression worsens across Colombia, we will roll out a campaign of action in support of other emblematic cases of threatened environment defenders and their organizations:

    • Jani Silva and the Association for Comprehensive and Sustainable Development of the Perla Amazonica (ADISPA), who defend this biodiverse Amazon region against oil industry contamination and paramilitary groups seeking control via terror.
    • Danelly Estupiñan and the Black Communities Process (PCN) that coordinates more than 140 organizations working for the rights of persecuted Afro-descendant communities, their lands and the environment in Colombia's Pacific region.
    • María Ciro and the Catatumbo Social Integration Committee (CISCA), who defend community land and with it, the right to food, work and a healthy environment amidst ongoing armed conflict and militarization.
    • Joel Chipiaje and the Sikuani-Kubeo Indigenous families of ASEINPOME, who defend ancestral territory full of natural resources, water and food amid systematic killings of Indigenous people and efforts to forcibly displace them from lands rich in economic potential. 

    Our Colombia campaign will seek action that addresses the root causes of violence against defenders and their organizations. It will run until December 2021 and include e-action, creative social media action, letter writing and solidarity. We will organize online events in order to hear directly from defenders. We will also focus on Canadian connections to what is happening in Colombia.

    For information, key dates and action links, visit this campaign hub page [note this page will be available in October]. Contact campaigner Kathy Price at kprice@amnesty.ca if you have questions or ideas.