Indigenous Guard in Colombia wins International Award

Source: Front Line Defenders

The Guardia Indígena de Cauca (Indigenous Guard of Cauca) has been named as the 2020 Americas Regional Winner of the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. 

From January 2016 to the end of 2019 more than 90 indigenous leaders have been kill in the Cauca region. 

The organisation is honouring the defenders for their protection of indigenous communities and their rights, their territories and the environment, as well as the Guardia’s model of nonviolent collective protection, reports the Irish organization Front Line Defenders. 

“The Guardia represent a unique model of collective protection in one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a human rights defender. Throughout years of the armed conflict, the Guardia offered an unarmed, peaceful defence of their community, traditions, culture, way of live and Mother Nature,” said Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Andrew Anderson. 

“The courage and integrity of the human rights defenders we honour today shines brightly as inspiration of how we can work together to achieve positive change”, added Anderson on a press release.  

The Indigenous Guard of Cauca – Kiwe Thegnas is a community life and ancestral resistance composed of women, men, boys and girls who defend their territories in a peaceful, unarmed way. 

It was created in the region of Cauca in southwestern Colombia, and in 2001 began operating as an organised collective. The majority of the indigenous guards belong to the Nasa indigenous group, which is the largest and most organised, and they have trained other communities throughout Colombia over the years to defend their own territories. 

Their communities have been subjected to multiple forms of violence resulting from the presence of armed actors, the drug trafficking economy and multinational exploitation. 

Among its many activities, the Guard carries out collective protection actions with its communities, gives talks on awareness raising and peace, tours their territories, gives humanitarian protection for child victims of armed actions, rescues injured people in the context of warfare under the framework of humanitarian action,

the Indigenous Guard has been subjected to multiple attacks from different actors who seek to break the peaceful resistance of the communities they represent. 

Since 2005, Front Line Defenders has held its Award ceremony at Dublin’s City Hall. This year, due COVID-19 restrictions, a virtual award ceremony will be held 9 December, International Human Rights Defenders Day. 

(Jorge Jordan)

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