PBI-Colombia accompanies the Justice and Peace Commission as Jani Silva receives Amnesty International Write for Rights letters

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On November 22, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “We thank the @SwedeninCOL embassy for the space shared with embassies to discuss the security situation of the leader Jani Silva, accompanied by @Justiciaypazcol. Today Jani received campaign letters #EscribeporlosDerechos [Write for Rights] from @amnesty in support of her defense of human rights.”

Representatives from the British, Norwegian, French and American embassies were present at the gathering at the Swedish Embassy.

Amnesty International has highlighted: “Jani Silva has dedicated her life to protecting the Amazon and the life that exists in it from efforts by armed groups and multinational companies to take control of her territory.”

This past April, they launched this video and a campaign to demand that Colombian authorities immediately take effective measures to guarantee the safety of Jani who has experienced multiple threats.

Yesterday, the New York Times published this guest essay in Spanish by Blanca Lucía Echeverry and Andrew Miller, the advocacy director for Amazon Watch and an active member of Peace Brigades International-USA.

They write:

In the Putumayo region, members of the Border Command, an illicit armed group dedicated to controlling drug production on the border with Ecuador, told residents that they held negotiations with Nueva Amerisur, owned by the multinational oil company GeoPark, and agreed to ensure that nothing impedes the company’s work. so they warned residents not to interfere.

The criminal group declared environmental defender Jani Silva persona non grata, a priority case for Amnesty International. Since a threat of murder hangs over her because of her work to protect water resources and forest from oil exploration activities, she has been forced to move continuously to escape these killers.”

[Colombian president Ivan] Duque has done very little to protect [human rights] defenders or seek and bring their attackers to justice.

The National Protection Unit, created in 2011 to protect human rights defenders, in Silva’s case has provided transport support and, only under pressure, a certain police presence.

Although civilian and military authorities say they are investigating and taking steps to disarm illicit armed groups, in line with the commitment expressed in the 2016 peace agreement that ended a five-decade internal armed conflict with leftist guerrillas, organizations such as the Border Command continue to strengthen in the Amazon and other regions.

Most likely, Jani Silva’s situation will remain precarious.

But if Colombian and U.S. officials take concrete action, they could send a strong message that not only she, but the rest of the environmental defenders, have powerful allies who will leverage their influence to end the scourge of threats, attacks, and killings against those who protect the earth on behalf of all of us.

Silva is accompanied by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, which has been accompanied by PBI-Colombia since 1994.

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