Of course, everybody has their own personal history. In my life, I grew up in a poor family, in a poor village in Colombia, so I saw all of the injustice related to that from a very early age. At university I was a student leader and I worked with trade unions. When I became a lawyer, I represented social causes. For most of my professional career over the last 22 years, I have worked in a collective of lawyers, an organisation which PBI protects.
“Sin la tierra no podemos vivir” “Without the land we cannot live”
Land of Corn is the story of four environmental and land rights defenders in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras. In 2014, a Global Witness report found 116 cases of killings of land and environmental defenders in 17 countries. Central and South America account for more than 75% of all deaths.
The Human Rights and Defence Resource Centre for Indigenous Peoples (Cedhapi) is a civil organisation established fifteen years ago, with the aim of defending the human rights of indigenous peoples using a legal approach, and international mechanisms. It also assists with reporting abuses and following these up, and capacity-building.
PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee the security of Cristina Auerbach and the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization
Mexico City, 31 March 2016.– Due to the recent intimitadion and slander suffered by the Human Rights Defender Cristina Auerbach, PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee her security and the one of the other members of the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization. Likewise, PBI requests Mexican authorities to publicly recognise the legitimate work carried out by the Organisation.
Networks and organizations across the Americas and Europe issue a statement condemning the assassination of the Honduran human rights activist Berta Cáceres.
Berta Cáceres, Lenca indigenous leader and coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered yesterday at her residence in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. While expressing its deepest condolences to her family, civil society urges the Honduran authorities to invest all necessary resources to investigate, prosecute, punish those responsible and take appropriate remedy measures, including publicly dignifying the memory of Berta. The international community, the statement reads, should also “take all necessary measures to ensure that the Honduran State fulfill its human rights obligations.”
In March 2016 Pedro Sicá, Guatemalan indigenous leader, visited London as part of a Europe wide speaker tour organised by PBI. Pedro is an indigenous Maya K’iche’ leader of the Cunén Community Council (CCC), a community organization for the defence of the land, natural resources and human rights. In the area of Cunén and northern Quiché, there are many social conflicts around hydroelectric projects, mining and high-voltage electricity pylons. PBI began accompanying CCC in 2010 due to the security risks faced by human rights defenders actively promoting the right to land, territory and natural resources in the region.
In February 2016, PBI UK welcomed Kenyan Human Rights Defender Gacheke Gachihi to London. In Spring 2016 Gacheke was invited to join the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk at The Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York.(1)
Gacheke Gachihi is a social justice activist who has been active in the human rights movement in Kenya for over a decade. He is a founding member of Bunge la Mwananchi (‘People’s Parliament’), an organic pro-poor social movement in Kenya historically related to popular social struggles for empowerment and participatory democracy. He is also currently a coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Centre. Human rights defenders in Kenya face a particularly dangerous environment including criminalisation (2), harassment and NGOs face threats of closure.(3) PBI Kenya has been working with Gacheke since 2013.
A Dangerous Business: The human cost of advocating against environmental degradation and land rights violations, took place at the University of London's Senate House, on 31 October 2011.
The discussion included issues of extractive industries and indigneous communities, land rights, tar sands, Free, Prior and Informed Consent, the UN Ruggie Framework and Guidelines on business and human rights, and the kinds of threats human rights defenders face as they defend environment and land.
The UVOC was founded in the 1980s and includes over 200 campesino communities in the departments of Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Izabal, and El Quiché in Guatemala. It works principally on access to land for indigneous and campesino communities and to provide support in the process of legalisation of the communities’ land titles. The organisation also offers training to communities affiliated to the UVOC and supports development projects within those communities.
The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó continually turns displacement and victimhood into innovative sustainability and peaceful resistance.
A collective of over 500 peasant farmers in the Urabá region of North-West Colombia, this courageous community has faced threats, stigmatisation, assassinations and massacres because of its members’ choice to resist displacement and declare themselves neutral in the midst of a civil war.