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concordia 01/04/2019 - 10:00AM

CP Concordia screens urgent films on Colombian land and human rights struggles

The films and post-screening discussion highlighted alarming parallels with Canada

The theatre was packed on Monday March 18th, as students and community members gathered for a special evening with Cinema Politica Concordia. Kahnawake Elder Sedalia Kawenno:ta's Fazio offered a blessing, prayer and song to introduce the gathering. The audience was brought together around the Québec premieres of two urgent films following different communities’ struggles in Colombia to protect their lands and rights. THEY’RE KILLING US portrays Indigenous, Afro-descendent, and campesino communities organizing to protect the land and their people while fighting to keep the state accountable, whereas FRONTERA INVISIBLE focuses on communities displaced by big landowners’ rush for palm oil, and denounces harmful biofuel policies. This timely event was presented in collaboration with the two-day student-led social justice project, They’re Killing Us. 

Following the films, we were honoured to host a special Q&A with the filmmakers of THEY’RE KILLING US, Emily Wright, Tom Laffay & Daniel Bustos Echeverry, together with Afro-Colombian land and human rights defender Héctor Marino Carabalí, who is one of the film’s main protagonists. Much of the discussion centered on the plight of Colombian land activists. Due to illegal land mining, palm oil farming, land grabbing and drug related violence, local residents have to constantly worry about their lives: many have been forcefully displaced and even witnessed death, not to mention the disastrous consequences on their lands and livelihoods. Carabalí himself has had his life threatened for more than a decade and there is a bounty on his head. Yet, what is most alarming is the fact that since signing a peace agreement in 2016, more than 200 community leaders and activists have been murdered in Colombia.

Watching THEY’RE KILLING US and FRONTERA INVISIBLE, one thing becomes abundantly clear: one cannot separate environmental issues from those of a social character. Moreover, both Carabalí and Elder Sedalia Kawenno:ta's Fazio stressed the fact that these are not isolated local conflicts – these are global issues that require solidarity among all people, especially among Indigenous peoples across the continents. The time to act is now.