Colombia: Amnesty International publishes a ‘letter from the world’ demanding protection for defender Jani Silva

Today, on Earth Day, Amnesty International launched its “A Letter from the World” campaign to demand that Colombian authorities immediately take effective measures to guarantee the safety of environmental defender Jani Silva.

Last year, as part of Amnesty’s global campaign Write for Rights, the planet’s largest human rights event, more than 415,363 people from dozens of countries around the world took action calling for the protection of Jani Silva, who is at risk of being killed for defending the Amazon and the rights of more than 1,200 people living in the Perla Amazonian Farming Reserve Area in Putumayo.

Because I defend my territory, people have held a gun to my head [and threatened] to kill me. But I’m staying in my territory, we can’t run away or let fear defeat us.
Jani Silva

In the new campaign launched today, Amnesty International used an algorithm to condense the hundreds of letters of solidarity sent to Jani Silva into a single letter that symbolizes global solidarity and demands that Colombian authorities take strong and effective measures to protect her life and guarantee her safety. In a video released today, 14 public figures, including artists, singers and comedians from seven countries, read aloud the letter to Jani Silva.

“From the bottom of my heart I can say that this campaign is what has kept me alive, because I’ve been very close to death but it’s never happened. In spite of everything, today we are alive and that’s what counts,” said Jani Silva. “Because I defend my territory, people have held a gun to my head [and threatened] to kill me. But I’m staying in my territory, we can’t run away or let fear defeat us. We have to keep fighting as when there are threats against our territory, it’s not just us that’s under threat but the whole world, because we have to protect the earth that gives us life.”

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. She has led reforestation programs and advocated for the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in 2016 between the FARC-EP and the Colombian government.

She has suffered death threats in retaliation for her work, but the Colombian authorities have not developed a comprehensive and efficient plan to guarantee her safety. Since January 2020, state protection has proven insufficient to prevent seven security incidents that Jani Silva has experienced, including persecution by unknown persons, illegal digital surveillance by the Colombian Army, death threats, multiple gunshots within meters of her home, and the uncovering of a plan to assassinate her.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org