PBI-Colombia attends meeting with Danish ambassador and Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission
The Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission – CIJP) has tweeted its thanks to the Danish ambassador to Colombia Mogens Pedersen (second from the left in this photo) for his dialogue at their headquarters.
In the same tweet, the CIJP also thanks the Peace Brigades International – Colombia Project and the British group Christian Aid “for their participation in such a significant meeting for human rights and peace in the territories of Bajo Atrato.”
The CIJP works to protect rural lands, the environment and forcefully displaced afro-descendant, indigenous and mestizo communities.
It was created in 1988 by 45 Catholic congregations and is led by human rights defender and Jesuit priest Father Javier Giraldo (third from the right in this photo).
The Atrato River and its tributaries are situated in Colombia’s Chocó department on the country’s northwest coast.
The Pulitzer Center has noted, “Rich in natural resources, over three-quarters of the land in Chocó is covered with tropical forests. But the forests are under threat from mining-related deforestation. Chocó is also Colombia’s top gold-producing region.”
Mongabay environmental news has noted, “During the country’s more than half a century-long internal conflict, guerrillas long used the river to move their troops.”
With the demobilization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) beginning in 2016-17, the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) and the right-wing Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC) paramilitary forces have battled for control of this territory.
Mongabay adds, “At the moment, Colombia’s notorious paramilitary groups use the Atrato to get to the riverbank communities they terrorize and displace. The Atrato and its many tributaries also grant safe passage to smugglers who transport illegally-mined gold in their motorized canoes.”
Amazon Watch has reported, “According to CIPJ, cattle ranchers and palm oil and banana growers have counted on the support of the AGC to intimidate, threaten and kill the community leaders who are defending their land from the expansion of agribusiness and commercial logging interests in the region.”
PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIPJ) since 1994.
Yesterday’s tweet by the CIPJ can be found at https://twitter.com/Justiciaypazcol/status/1142150323181674499