Daira is a human rights defender and musician who works to end state violence fights for the rights of displaced persons, and helps people reclaim their land. As a direct result of this commitment to justice, she was displaced from her home community. She still faces risks whenever she returns.
Daira helped found the community of La Nupa before being forcibly displaced in 2001. She and approximately 120 Afro-Colombian families had been victorious in obtaining a collective land title, which entitled them to 182 hectares of land.
However, Colombia's internal armed conflict derailed their efforts to bring in more communities under the title. The president of the community council and founding member was assassinated. Facing death threats, many families were forced to flee.
In total, roughly 90% of the collective landholders were forced off their land illegally. The situation was exploited by businesses, who began using the land for large scale cultivation of African palm. Illegal armed groups also seized control and began growing illicit crops. Daira and other community leaders have fought to regain access to their land ever since.
In addition, Daira is also spearheading a project to restore the ancestral practices and collective memory of La Nupa. The project entails creating "Wisdom Schools" to teach the next generation about the importance of memory, culture, and land in building peace and restoring social fabric.
International protective accompaniment is a nonviolent strategy for protecting threatened individuals and communities in the midst of armed conflict or political violence. It is based on the principles of non-violence, noninherence and impartiality.
As Liam Mahony and Luis Enrique Eguren explain in Unarmed Bodyguards, accompaniment literally personifies the international concern for human rights. It is a convincing and visible reminder to those who use violence that their actions won’t go unnoticed. The premise of accompaniment is that there will be an international response to whatever violence is observed by our international teams. That request carries the implicit threat of diplomatic or economic pressure; a pressure that the perpetrators of violence want to avoid. Therefore, all of our efforts focus on the prevention of attacks on those being accompanied.
Because of this, the armed actors and civilians in the conflict should have explicit knowledge of the physical presence of the international accompaniers as well as the support network that backs them up. The work therefore has two prongs: the physical presence of the volunteers and the political/diplomatic work that raises the visibility of the accompaniment as well as of the accompanied person.
For More Information
Please contact the Colombia team