“We want to raise awareness about the importance of our land, water, trees and all the animals that live there … We are threatened and persecuted for protecting something that benefits all humanity…But we won’t give up.”
These are the words that Jani Silva, a courageous woman environment defender in the Amazon region of Colombia, shared at Amnesty Canada’s Sparking Connections online conference in November (watch a video of what Jani said at the conference on our YouTube channel here). Not long after we talked with her, Jani had to flee her home and go into hiding because of dangerous new threats that put her life in danger and reduced state protection.
During December’s Write for Rights campaign, more than 9,000 Amnesty Canada supporters raised their voices to demand strengthened, not reduced, protection for Jani and other threatened defenders of her organization, ADISPA.
From hiding, Jani sent a message of heartfelt appreciation for all the messages of concern sent to Colombian authorities from Canada. She told us how important it is for people in Canada to speak out, help to make visible the worsening crisis for environment defenders in Colombia and call for action to stop a terrifying increase in attacks and assassinations.
The South American country is now one of the most dangerous 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. This horrendous situation is documented in Amnesty’s 2020 report Why Do They Want To Kill Us? Lack of Safe Space to Defend Human Rights in Colombia.
On Earth Day, April 22, Amnesty Canada will launch a new campaign for the protection of land and environment defenders in Colombia.
Bookmark this page and revisit it in April for emblematic stories of environment defenders at risk and details of the actions we will be asking Amnesty Canada supporters to take. Our Colombia campaign will run until December 2021 and include e-action, creative social media action, letter writing and opportunities to make visible our 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.
Meanwhile, be sure to sign this online action for Jani Silva and ADISPA.
Also be sure to sign this action for Colombian river defender Isabel Zuleta and the members of Rios Vivos (Living Rivers) movement, persecuted for denouncing a disastrous big dam project financed with millions of dollars of public money by Export Development Canada.