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Colombia

    March 21, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    Amnesty activists in Canada are joining with courageous families in rural Colombia to celebrate an inspiring anniversary: an anniversary of resistance, hope and the importance of solidarity.

    March 23rd marks twenty years since families in the verdant countryside of San José de Apartadó, desperate to protect their children from a vicious armed conflict, joined together to form a peace community.

    With enormous courage and determination, the families actively asserted their right as civilians not to be drawn into the armed conflict. They formally declared that they would refuse entry into their territory by any armed combatants – whether soldiers, paramilitaries or insurgent forces -- and also refuse to comply with demands by combatants for information or supplies.

    June 02, 2016
    Kimy Pernia Domicó

    By Kathy Price, Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    June 2nd is a day of painful remembering for me. I will never forget the phone call 15 years ago that delivered heart-stopping news. Embera Katío indigenous leader Kimy Pernía Domicó had been abducted by paramilitaries in northern Colombia. He was never seen again, despite courageous efforts by his people to find and rescue him.

    Kimy won many friends in Canada. I feel honoured to be among them.

    Two years before he was disappeared, Kimy travelled from his rainforest home to our nation's capital to testify to a committee of MPs charged with oversight of foreign affairs. He told them about the devastating impact of a hydroelectric megaproject, built with financing from Canada’s Export Development Corporation.

    The dam had flooded the land and food crops of Embera Katío communities. Fish stocks had disappeared bringing hunger and disease. Kimy's young grandchild was among the sick.

    September 29, 2015

    By Kathy Price,  Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    It was great news, the kind of news that underscores how incredibly important our activism is.

    March 31, 2015
    By Rosemary Ganley, Group 46

    Three lively community groups came together in Peterborough on March 22 to meet Father Alberto Franco, a Redemptorist priest and dedicated human rights defender from Bogota, Colombia.

    Father Franco leads the Colombian Justice and Peace Commission in a dangerous and unstable atmosphere. He is known to Amnesty International as the subject of an Urgent Action appeal two years ago. He was threatened many time and shot at once. He smiles as he admits that, at the behest of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, he now travels with guards.

    Father Franco’s work involves accompanying peasants and indigenous people in the region of Choco in northern Colombia as they strive, first to survive in a warring area, and then to return home and re-establish communities of peace. His office provides legal and social-psychological support, education and communication for exploited groups as they assert their rights to livelihood and stability.

    August 21, 2014

     

    A trusted partner of Amnesty Canada urgently needs our support

    By Kathy Price
    Colombia Campaigner, Amnesty International

    The terrible news came via a skype call from Colombia. Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, the big-hearted, creative, hard-working advocate for the rights of threatened Indigenous peoples and collaborator with Amnesty Canada, told me about receiving an envelope containing a death threat from the notorious Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles), a feared paramilitary group.

    The message warned that Juan Pablo was now a paramilitary target and would be killed for his work with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), a coalition with whom Amnesty International Canada has worked closely in recent years.

    The death threat had been delivered to Juan Pablo as he waited for public transit near his home, en route to work, making clear that the paramilitaries had been monitoring his movements and knew where to find him.

    June 19, 2014
    Street protest for the survival of Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    By Kathy Price, Colombia Campaigner

    It was two years ago that courageous Indigenous women and men in Colombia sent photo messages to Canada to tell us about deadly assaults on their lives and lands.

    Photo messages like the one from this Kankuamo woman - who writes "We want to live in peace on our lands" - put faces on an acute yet hidden human rights emergency. The very survival of more than a third of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, including the Kankuamo, is in jeopardy amidst attacks, forced displacement and the imposition of resource extraction projects that are increasing with promotion by Canada’s free trade agreement with Colombia.

    Indigenous rights defenders in Colombia, many of them threatened with death for their vital work, urged us to speak out with them. In attention-grabbing numbers, you have done just that!

    April 29, 2014
    Canadians deliver 65,000 messages in support of Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    by Kathy Price, Campaigner for the Americas, Amnesty International Canada

    A message that can't be ignored

    Today we brought the faces and voices of concerned Canadians to Parliament Hill, along with an urgent message: Canada's free trade deal with Colombia creates special obligations to protect the rights and survival of threatened Indigenous peoples in the South American country.

    On the steps of Parliament, we displayed beautiful, heartfelt photo messages from activists across Canada. Then we went inside to present the government with a box jam-packed with petitions - thousands and thousands of them. In total, more than 65,000 people signed actions calling for immediate measures to protect the rights and survival of Indigenous peoples on their lands in Colombia.

    April 07, 2014

    Over 9,000 Amnesty supporters have spoken up about the grave danger facing Flaminio Onogama Gutiérrez, following death threats and the assassination of two of his family members.

    January 20, 2014
    Flaminio Onogama, Indigenous leader from Colombia, visiting Hampton High School, New Brunswick, Canada. Flaminio is in the foreground, at right. Photo @ Kathy Price

    By Kathy Price, Campaigner for Americas, Amnesty International Canada

    A threatened Indigenous leader in Colombia needs your help. 

    See our Urgent Action

    There are many things I remember about my trip to the Maritimes in 2010 with Flaminio Onogama Gutierrez. I remember the soft-spoken, yet passionate words of the Embera Chami Indigenous leader as he met with community activists in Saint John and Hampton, explaining about the bombing of Indigenous communities in Colombia, the terror that made families run for their lives. I remember his warm smile as he talked to high school students and helped them to understand the human rights crisis in Colombia and Canada’s connections. It is so important to teach the next generation, he told me.

    October 22, 2013

    By Kathy Price, Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

     

    Witnesses report that security forces fired tear gas canisters filled with shrapnel directly at demonstrators.

    Dozens of indigenous protesters have been injured when Colombian security forces appear to have used excessive force against demonstrations. © LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images

    July 26, 2013
    Adolfo Ich’s Grave in “La Uníon”
    Ground-breaking ruling paves the way for Indigenous Guatemalans to have their day in a Canadian court

    On 22 July 2013, Amnesty International Canada welcomed a precedent-setting decision by Justice Carole Brown of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto.
    In her carefully reasoned judgment, Justice Brown affirmed that claims brought by 13 Guatemalan Indigenous people against Canadian company HudBay Minerals and its subsidiaries should be permitted to go to trial. HudBay and its subsidiaries had attempted to prevent the claims from going forward, arguing that a parent corporation can never be held liable for murder, shootings and rapes allegedly committed by security personnel employed by a Guatemalan subsidiary.

    May 14, 2013

    by Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada's campaigner on Colombia

    Photo:Though he did not dare risk giving his name, this Indigenous man wanted to share an appeal that cannot be ignored: “No” to human rights violations. We need help. “Yes” to life!...by Juan Pablo Gutierrez 

    The reality of what is happening in Colombia, the spectacularly beautiful and diverse country with whom Canada is now linked via a free trade deal, is hard to take in. The immensity of it is shocking. According to the Constitutional Court of Colombia, at least a third of Indigenous Peoples in the South American country are threatened with physical or cultural “extermination” amidst armed conflict in their territory by third parties and grave human rights violations linked to efforts to take control of their resource-rich lands.

    You can raise your voice for action

    March 19, 2013

    by Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada's campaigner on Latin America

    Even if you didn’t listen to the words, the video images spoke volumes at the hearing on Colombia on March 14, 2013, at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington. 

    Maria Patricia Tobón Yagarí, of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), sat alone but with enormous dignity and strength of purpose as she spoke out about the ongoing violence and denial of human rights which threaten the very survival of Indigenous peoples in Colombia.

    The situation is so desperate that an increasing number of suicides by Indigenous women are being reported, testified Ms. Tobón, underscoring the risks posed by a lethal mix of armed conflict and the imposition of resource extraction on Indigenous lands.

    November 29, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada's Colombia campaigner Kathy Price reports on the urgent crisis facing Indigenous Women in Colombia.

    “Each sentence that you send to the government of Colombia, every letter that you send gives us strength and helps us to continue fighting for our lives. It’s like a kind of shield. The government knows you are watching what happens to us. That’s why today they are being a bit more careful. Because they know you are watching.”

    A.I. Canada campaigner Kathy Price (left) met Dora Tavera on a recent mission to Colombia. 

    This is the heartfelt, empowering message to Amnesty Canada activists from Dora Tavera, a Pijao Indigenous woman who works with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia. She delivers it in a moving 5-minute video recorded by Amnesty International Canada during our recent observation mission to the South American country.