PBI helps to protect hundreds of human rights defenders - people working nonviolently to promote and protect the human rights of others. They work on a broad spectrum of social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights. Here some of them speak about their work, their experiences, and the challenges they face.

Dina Meza, journalist, Honduras

"We can't have this evil continuing... I have a commitment to my brother, who was tortured and imprisoned, and also to my children. I owe it to them not to pass on the same Honduras that I grew up in."

 

Marcos Leyva, EDUCA, Mexico

"Our work is part of an effort to transform Mexican society, to strengthen the democratic processes of our country through respect for human rights, especially the rights of indigenous communities."

 

Rosalinda Dionicio, United Peoples' Network of the Ocotlán Valley, Mexico

"We have been persecuted. But we have to look at it as a reference, so that other communities don't have the same experience."

 

 

Aurelia Arzú, OFRANEH, Honduras

"Our main issue currently is the seizure of our own lands for which we are facing criminalisation... For us it is unthinkable that foreign businesses can take us to court in our own communities'".

 

Olga Silva, Humanidad Vigente, Colombia

 "Protective accompaniment is not only persuasive in the field, it is also a way of generating international support for the work of human rights defenders."

 

 

Dipendra Jha, Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance, Nepal

"In 2015, approximately 45 people were killed after police opened fire on protests staged over Nepal’s new constitution. On the 6th of March 2017, seven Madhesi were killed when police again opened fire on a protest."

 

Wangui Kimari, Mathare Social Justice Centre, Kenya

"Our principles are collective leadership, solidarity, and a strong commitment to achieving justice for all." 

 

 

Cristina Auerbach and Esmeralda Saldaña, business and human rights, Mexico

“The campaign against me has been horrendous, I have been libelled and followed and threatened. That is why the work of PBI has been so crucial. We really value it." 

 

Donald Hernández, Honduras Center for Community Promotion and Development (CEHPRODEC), Honduras

“Honduras has become such a violent country that ordinary people say goodbye to each other in the morning, not knowing if they will return that evening."

 

 

Jehovany Cruz, The Pico Bonito National Park Foundation (FUPNAPIB), Honduras

“Berta Caceres’ death was terrible. We wept […]. But this incident is just the tip of the iceberg.”

 

 

Luis Guillermo, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), Colombia  

"Physical accompaniment is very important in the field, as it helps to dissuade attacks against us, but also PBI’s international support network, the dialogue with the authorities, all of that has an important preventative role that protects us."

 

Alirio Uribe, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CCAJAR), Colombia

"In 2001, a plan was discovered between the military and the paramilitaries to assassinate me. They had plans of my house and the routes they would use."

 

 

Mandira Sharma, Advocacy Forum, Nepal

"They started to get nervous and we had to be cautious. We were constantly threatened. Our offices were monitored. We were followed everywhere by undercover agents." 

 

Lorena Cabnal, Association of Indigenous Women of Santa María Xalapán, Guatemala

"I’ve been threatened several times for our work denouncing sexual violence against women and children, for promoting the right for education and the recognition of our ethnic identities here in the mountains, as women and as an indigenous people."

 

Héctor Cerezo Contreras, Cerezo Committee, Mexico

"My name is Héctor Cerezo Contreras, I am 29 years old and I am a human rights defender. I was a prisoner of conscience for seven and a half years." 

 

 

Wilfrido Mayrén Peláez (Father Uvi), “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” Regional Centre for Human Rights (Barca-DH), Mexico

"They shot to kill me, and ever since we have been convinced that working for the defence of human rights is a risk." 

 

 

Maurilio Santiago Reyes, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Advice for Indigenous People (CEDHAPI), Mexico

"That day we received death threats for the first time. I had to leave Oaxaca… We went back, but it was the first time we felt afraid to do our work." 

 

 

Tita Radilla, Mexican Association of Relatives of the Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations (AFADEM)

"The relatives of the disappeared have a great need, and they have waited many years, to know what happened to their disappeared relatives. They have hope and faith in our association and we can't let them down." 

 

Alma Gomez, Center for the Human Rights of Women (CEDEHM)

"As an advocate of human rights of women what I do is basically empower women about their rights... Since I can remember, I have been repressed for fighting for social justice."

 

Father Martín Octavio, “Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño” Regional Centre for Human Rights (Barca-DH), Mexico 

"I went to San José to hold the mass and as I arrived, a truck blocked the road, and the people in it forcibly took me out of the car and hit me with a pistol right here. They threw me to the ground and started to kick me, hit with sticks and stones, hurling insults." 

 

Reinaldo Villalba, José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), Colombia  

"The work of human rights lawyers seeks to bring the Colombian constitution to fruition, in the sense of us being a society with a democratic rule of law... It is those who violate human rights who destabilise the state, not we who seek to sanction those responsible.”