On April 25, we hosted a webinar with three human rights defenders about the impact of COVID-19 on human rights in Colombia. In such a challenging time, we were grateful to hear from folks around the world about their concerns for human rights defenders and to discuss how the issue is being addressed in different countries.
About the speakers:
Nidiria Ruiz Medina is a leader in the Women’s Association AINI Source of the Spring of Flowers, from the Naya River, Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca. AINI is a women’s collective that supports peace-building processes in their region. She is the technical secretary of Communities Building Peace in Colombia (CONPAZ-COL) and leads processes for families of disappeared persons, as well as memory and truth-seeking commissions.
Willian Aljure Martínez is a human rights defender and land claimant from the municipality of Mapiripán, Meta. He is part of the national directive for CONPAZ-COL and a leader for the Mapiripán Association in Defense of the Environment (Asodeamapi). He is the grandson of the guerrilla leader Dumar Aljure, who signed a peace agreement in with the General Rojas Pinilla, and was later attacked by the military on April 4, 1948, during which 5 family members were killed. Willian’s father Juan Pablo Aljure was killed in the late 90’s, and a few years later his mother Berenice Martínez was also killed.
Ómar de Jesús Restrepo Correa is a representative for the FARC party in the House of Representatives. He is a campesino from Antioquia who’s convinced that change is possible in Colombia. At 16 years old he joined the FARC-EP after paramilitaries threatened his family and he was forced to flee and leave his studies. He traveled to Havana in 2012 to contribute to the peace process that would become the historic Peace Accords. Now he represents campesinos and the working class as an Antioquia representative in the House of Representatives of Colombia’s congress.