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    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.”

    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.

    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

    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

    Amnesty International is co-sponsoring a panel discussion about pressing challenges for human rights in Colombia as peace talks continue.


    FRANCISCO RAMIREZ CUELLAR, Colombia trade unionist, human rights defender and expert on the proliferation of multinational and Canadian corporate investment in Colombia's mining-energy extractive industries. Author of The Profits of Extermination: Big Mining in Colombia

    FELIPE UNCACIA, U'wa Indigenous spokesperson for the Association of Indigenous Traditional Authorities in the Department of Arauca and Indigenous rights defender involved in the protection of U'wa territory against pipelines and large oil extraction projects

    JASMIN HRISTOV, Assistant Professor of Sociology at McMaster University. Author of Paramilitarism and Neoliberalism: Violent Systems of Capital Accumulation in Colombia and Beyond (2014) and Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia (2009)

    After five decades of armed conflict and massive human rights violations in Colombia, hopes soared with the signing of a peace accord in 2016. Since then a wave of violence against human rights defenders, community leaders and their families is sowing fear and new forced displacement.

    Join our panel discussion with three inspiring women human rights defenders from Colombia and learn what we can do to support women courageously weaving peace with rights and justice.


    * Erlendy Cuero is Vice-President of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES)
    * Yolanda Becerra is National Director of the Popular Feminist Organization (OFP)
    * Kelly Campo is a youth leader with the Popular Feminist Organization

    WHEN: Thursday May 3 from 7 - 9 PM

    WHERE: Amnesty International Canada's National Office, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa

    LIVESTREAMING: This event will be livestreamed via Facebook Live via Amnesty Canada's Facebook account


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