“PBI´s accompaniment has been fundamental to the work of human rights defenders in Colombia, particularly to myself, David Ravelo Crespo, as a human rights defender in Barrancabermeja and in the Magdalena Medio region, the accompaniment has allowed our work to be protected in the whole region and has enabled us to attend many different spaces and has guaranteed our lives.
On April 3, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted, “@PBIColombia with organizations from the @espaciopazencol [the Cooperation Space for Peace] has signed a statement supporting the call from @ONUHumanRights [UN Human Rights Colombia] for a ceasefire in Colombia and calling attention to the continued assassinations of and threats towards human rights defen
“PBI’s accompaniment is extremely important in the country because the Colombian State has not provided guarantees for human rights defenders to carry out our work. PBI’s accompaniment enables many defenders to stay in the country and not have to abandon our work.”
- Jorge Molano, lawyer and human rights defender
“I arrived at PBI a long time ago and I pass by the house a lot to visit. These visits give me the strength to continue fighting for justice – the hugs and conversations with the PBI volunteers are like a vitamin for me that gives me strength”
- Doña Blanca, member of the Victims of State Crimes Movement, MOVICE and victim from La Guajira where paramilitaries killed her husband and daughter.
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project is drawing attention to the situation of continued violence and threats against human rights defenders during the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting quarantine measures.
Marco Rivadeneira, Ángel Ovidio Quintero, and Ivo Humberto Bracamonte killed
At the beginning of the New Year in 2019, there were concerns about the situation of defenders in Colombia. 2018 had been a particularly violent year, in which figures related to violence increased to an alarming extent, including reported attacks, killings and forced displacement. This pattern sadly continued throughout the year.
“They were heaven sent. They always seemed to be there at the right time.” - Tita Dadilla, Mexican human rights defender, on PBI volunteers
In celebration of International Human Rights Day, we are proud to announce the release of ‘The Defenders’, a short film by Manu Valcarce exploring the experience of being a human rights defender in countries where the rule of law is fragile.
This December, and continuously, PBI puts human rights defenders at the center, in the position they deserve given the fundamental role they play in the protection of human rights and the construction of fair and peaceful societies.
Human rights defenders continue to provide voices for the voiceless, pushing for social justice. They often risk their lives to stand up for what they believe in, holding states to account and pushing for human rights to be respected, protected and fulfilled.
On October 29, Governor Cristina Bautista Taquinas, the leader of the semi-autonomous Indigenous reservation of Nasa Tacueyó, and four unarmed Indigenous Guards – Asdrubal Cayapu, Heliodoro Finscue, José Gerardo Soto and James Wilfredo Soto – were killed in an attack by illegal armed groups.
Five other members of the Indigenous Nasa community were injured in the attack, which took place in the village of La Luz in the Tacueyó reservation in the department of Cauca.
Steve Law and Evelyn Jones from Kennetcook, Nova Scotia were Peace Brigades International volunteers in Colombia in 1998-99.
On March 26, 1999, the head of the largest paramilitary organization in Colombia issued a death threat against international workers who were providing human rights protection and humanitarian aid to communities displaced by the civil war.
Steve says, “That was the most blatant demonstration by the paramilitary that they didn’t want us there. Things became very, very difficult for everyone living in this area, and for us.”