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Dialogue on 'Collective protection for land and territory defenders': communities, organisations and investors need to adjust understanding of protection

'Collective protection for land and territory defenders', 26 May 2021

On May 10th, JASS and the Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR) organized a dialogue as part of the launch of a new article, “Collective Protection to Defend Territory, Defense of Territory to Protect Life”. We brought together the authors from Mesoamerica (one of whom is a land defender from Guatemala), women land defenders from the Philippines and South Africa, and conveners from JASS and FGHR to discuss evolving movement strategies for collective protection, rooted in the experience and worldview of indigenous communities... Lolita Chávez brought in her personal experience as a Maya K’iche’ communitarian feminist, member of the Council of K'iche' Peoples in Guatemala and internationally known activist in the defense of life, nature and territory... Lolita has faced down nine assassination attempts, raids, defamation and criminalization. She currently lives in exile. The communities have stopped 32 mining concessions on their lands... Marusia Lopez Cruz has worked alongside women land defenders for years as they have defined and implemented collective protection measures in their communities throughout the region... She emphasized what their experience teaches us about the importance of moving beyond an individual perspective... Mafel Macalanda has been organizing in the Tuwali (Ifugao) Indigenous community for more than two decades now... She said that indigenous women in the Philippines are at the forefront of these struggles, movements leaders are tagged as “terrorists”, and arrested on trumped-up charges or even killed... Nonhle Mbuthuma, organizer and spokesperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee in the community of Xolobeni in South Africa... The confrontation with mining companies has led the communities to question the meaning of development...