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    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.

    June 12, 2013

    Members of Colombia ’s Congress should reject a proposed law whose purpose is to give greater powers to the military justice system and which will shield members of the armed forces and the police from justice for crimes under international law, Amnesty International said today.

    The law, due to be debated soon, will entrench impunity for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by Colombia ’ssecurity forces.
    The security forces, either acting alone or in collusion with paramilitaries, and guerrilla groups continue to be responsible for serious abuses, including unlawful killings, forced displacement, torture, abductions or forceddisappearances, and sexual violence.

    Very few people have been brought to justice for these human rights breaches, and the proposed law will insulate Colombia ’s security forces from prosecution before civilian courts.

    June 07, 2013

    The Colombian authorities must ensure the safety of a human rights defender and his family after an anonymous source warned local police that paramilitaries are intending to kill them, Amnesty International said.

    On 3 June, the police commander of the Department of Sucre, in northern Colombia, received an email saying paramilitaries were intending to kill human rights defender Juan David Díaz, his wife and "another person close to the family".

    “This is by no means the first time that a human rights defender from the area has been threatened, while some have even been killed. The Colombian authorities should take all threats seriously and ensure appropriate security is provided to those at risk,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia researcher at Amnesty International.

    Juan David Díaz is a member of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, MOVICE), a coalition of civil society organizations campaigning for truth, justice and reparation for the victims of the armed conflict.

    May 21, 2013

    This week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Colombia for talks hosted by Colombia’s President about a new trade bloc, the Pacific Alliance. The Prime Minister is reportedly “sounding out” what the trade bloc has to offer.

    In Canada, Members of Parliament are hearing concerns from Amnesty International and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia about Canada’s human rights obligations under its existing free trade agreement with Colombia.

    What:             Press conference of Amnesty International and the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) with interventions by

                          Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International  and

                          Maria Patricia Tobón Yagarí, lawyer with ONIC’s Territory and Natural Resources Council

    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! 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.

    February 26, 2013

    For years Angélica Bello, a human rights defender from Colombia, rarely spent a day alone – that would have been, simply, too dangerous.

    A number of threats against her because of her job helping the many survivors of sexual violence – women caught up in Colombia’s long-running armed conflict - meant that it was too dangerous for the 45-year-old mother of four to travel alone.

    In 2000, two of her daughters were kidnapped and kept as sexual slaves by paramilitaries, and were only released after Angélica personally intervened.

    In November 2009, she herself became the victim of sexual abuse, allegedly committed by paramilitaries in retaliation for her human rights work.

    The attack followed a string of threats she had been receiving. These threats and attacks forced her to move within the country several times.

    By early 2010, the wave of threats and attacks against Angélica was so worrying that she requested protection measures from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, a regional human rights institution.

    February 14, 2013

    Yolanda Becerra and Gloria Amparo Suárez are amazing women.

    Amidst an ongoing, vicious armed conflict in Colombia, a dirty war that the rest of the world has largely chosen to downplay or ignore, Yolanda and Gloria face fear on a daily basis yet steadfastly refuse to be paralysed by it.

    Via an organization known as the OFP (in English, the Popular Women’s Organization), Yolanda and Gloria have provided a haven for women whose families have been devastated by attacks, disappearances and killings – many perpetrated by army-backed paramilitaries. On behalf of these women, and knowing the danger of doing so, Gloria and Yolanda have worked relentlessly for truth, justice and reparations.

    Gloria and Yolanda should be applauded for these efforts, so urgently needed if women’s human rights and the rule of law are to become more than a pipe dream in Colombia. Instead they face persecution and a mother’s nightmare - the threat of harm to their children.

    January 22, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release, as well as respect for the lives and personal safety, of five mining workers taken hostage last Friday, reportedly by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group.

    The five workers, including two Peruvians, one Canadian and two Colombians, were taken captive in the northern department (province) of Bolívar.

    Amnesty International condemns hostage-taking, which is a serious breach of international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime.

    The organization is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the five men and any other civilians being held by the parties to the Colombian armed conflict.

    Amnesty International also calls on the authorities to identify those responsible for this and other cases of kidnapping and hostage-taking and ensure that they are brought to justice.

    For further information, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332 email:


    December 04, 2012

    Note: The following action updates the action posted in September 2011 and includes important new "asks"

    Maria (not her real name because of safety concerns), an Indigenous woman from Putumayo, left her home to look for food for her livestock on 18 May 2012. As she was returning home, an army soldier grabbed her, dragged her into some bushes and raped her.

    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.

    November 08, 2012

    Threats and violence against Indigenous Peoples are intensifying amidst Colombia's ongoing armed conflict.

    Guerrilla groups, state security forces and paramilitaries are responsible for killings, enforced disappearances and kidnappings, sexual abuse of women and recruitment of child soldiers. Thousands of Indigenous people have been forced from their land because they live in areas of intense military conflict and that are valued for their natural resources. Indigenous leaders and communities that try to defend their land rights commonly experience threats, killings and mass displacement.

    The vast majority of these crimes have not been investigated. Lack of justice fuels further abuse.

    The situation is nothing less than a human rights emergency.

    According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and Colombia's Constitutional Court, more than a third of 102 distinct Indigenous nations in Colombia face the risk of being wiped out as a result of the armed conflict, the impacts of large-scale economic projects and lack of state support.

    Nine women (actresses and activists) arrive at an imaginary tribunal and become modern Antigonas requesting justice for the murder of their loved ones. Amnesty International Canada is honoured to partner with Aluna Theatre and its presentation of the award-winning play Antigonas: Tribunal of Women. The cast includes human rights defenders and activists, including one of this year's Nobel Peace Prize nominees, Luz Marina Bernal, a mother whose courageous work to expose killings of civilians by the Colombian military has been supported by Amnesty International. Her testimony is all the more important as Colombia moves forward towards peace building, after years of devastating conflict.

    This poetical and lyrical rendition of the Greek tragedy is in Spanish with English subtitles and will address the horrors of political and social violence, transforming pain into power and rebelliousness, and making women key actors in the Peace Process in Colombia.

    An emergency as serious as it is invisible

    More than one third of Indigenous peoples in Colombia are threatened with "extermination", according to the country's highest court, and face an "emergency as serious as it is invisible." This crisis is fueled by violent incursions into Indigenous territory, forced displacement and the imposition of megaprojects.

    Canadian resource and mining companies have secured government permits to operate in Colombia, amidst complaints by Indigenous peoples that their right to decision-making about projects that will impact their land is routinely denied. Indeed expressing opposition to projects brings threats and attacks. Through the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the Canadian government is promoting further expansion of these operations without human rights guarantees.


    An urgent message from Colombia

    The Colombian government recently signed a peace accord with FARC rebels and initiated peace talks with ELN rebels, yet violence and human rights abuses continue in Colombia, particularly in areas of economic interest that are often in or near the territory of Indigenous Peoples. The rights and survival of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia, many of which are literally threatened with being wiped out, is central to a lasting peace.

    Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear:

    Luis Fernando Arias, Chief Counsel of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and a Kankuamo Indigenous leader, during the Toronto stop of a Canadian visit co-sponsored by Amnesty International.

    The event will also feature:

    Terrylynn Brant, Turtle clan of the Mohawk Nation of Grand River, Six Nations and traditional Mohawk Seedkeeper. Music by Ruben Esguerra - multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and arts educator born in Colombia.

    Food and refreshments will be provided.

    When: Tuesday March 7th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm


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