Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective expresses grave concern over the death threat one of our partners received in Colombia. Today, Friday, May 24th Nidiria Ruiz Medina received a threat against her life. A note was left at the entrance of her home saying "a bullet for Nidiria Ruiz".
Nidiria’s home is located in the collective territory of the Naya River, part of the rural area of Buenaventura. The area has been caught in the crossfire of Colombia’s armed conflicts for decades. In 2001, a massacre by paramilitaries marked the start of an era of forced displacement, when many people fled to the city of Buenaventura, the largest in the region. As a consequence, at the beginning of 2002, Naya River communities were granted protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Nidiria belongs to the AINI Women Association in the Naya River and is a national spokesperson of the CONPAZ Victims Network (Communities Building Peace in the Territories), which she has represented in national and international spaces.
Nidiria traveled with us throughout the eastern United States on our annual speaker's tour this fall. She discussed the powerful role that rural women play in building sustainable peace in Colombia as well as the importance of implementing the 2016 peace accords. The Colombia team has also provided physical accompaniment to Nidiria and other CONPAZ members during this very dangerous time in the country.
Nidiria is an ethno-educator, community organizer, peace worker, and grassroots women's leadership trainer. In March of this year, the AINI women were given an award by the Governor of the Valle del Cauca in recognition of their work as women entrepreneurs and peacebuilders.
This threat against Nidiria’s life is emblematic of threats against peace-building work in Colombia. Violence and threats against human rights defenders in Colombia are an unfortunately common occurrence and a tool frequently used to silence opposition. We recognize the life-threatening dangers against social movement activists and human rights defenders and continue to stand in solidarity with CONPAZ as well as accompany its members, like Nidiria, through this difficult time.
We urge the international community to stand in solidarity with human rights defenders and social leaders in the face of these threats and take action to defend human rights in Colombia. Recently Representatives James McGovern, John Lewis, Jan Schakowsky, and 76 other Members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing grave concern over the slow implementation of the Colombia Peace Accords and rising attacks against human rights defenders and social leaders. We urge our supporters to write a letter to Secretary Pompeo expressing your concerns as citizens.