Our Perspective

      • Colombia: Still a long way from home | Debora Barros

        04 Oct 2013

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        Like the Wayuu, the Tule people of Colombia also deal with discrimination and violation of human rights, an experience shared by many indigenous people. Photo: B. Heger, UNHCR

        When rebel forces killed the women in my community, our lives changed forever. In my culture, as an indigenous Wayuu in Colombia, women are sacred. We are the ones who transmit our language, traditions and lineage to future generations. To kill a mother is to kill the culture and the life of a community. As a child, I grew up without fear. I played in the desert with my cousins without any feeling of danger. It was a wonderful time. I became a happy, smart and organized woman and was chosen by my community to study law at university. When I came back during vacation, I would explain western music and traditions to the members of my community. But on 18 April 2004, rebels came and attacked my village. They raped, beheaded and killed the women by making grenades explode in their faces. It is too horrible to speak about. When we return to our destroyed village, we cry as if it had happened yesterday. Nine years later, we still don't know why this happened. But the 102 families in community have remained strong and united. With help in advocating for our rights from organizations like UNDP, we have convinced mayors Read More

      • Nepal: Seeking justice for a father's murder

        04 Oct 2013

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        Suman Adhikari, third from the right, protests against impunity in Nepal.

        My father was a school teacher at the Sanskrit high school in our village. He was also a social worker and an activist at Amnesty International. During the conflict, Maoist fighters approached him and demanded a quarter of his salary. But my father said he would not give money to support the torture and killing of innocent people. One day in 2002, while he was teaching class, the armed fighters tied his hands and feet and dragged him away. They tied him to a tree not far from our home and shot him. They said that anyone who touched the body would suffer the same fate. There were many similar episodes of violence across the country. People were brutally tortured and killed. Though my family and I couldn't get our father back, we decided to do something in his name to help others. Today, we provide scholarships at my father's school for students who are poor or affected by the conflict and, through the Conflict Victims Orphans' Society, we help children who lost their parents. But justice is still not a reality. After the peace agreement in 2006, we hoped that the truth commissions and the government would bring the perpetrators Read More

      • Bosnia and Herzegovina: The war in people's minds | Amir Kulaglic

        04 Oct 2013

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        Kulaglic shows his escape route from Srebrenica, which involved walking through the woods for seven days and nights. (Photo: Sigrid Lupieri/UNDP)

        I was born in Srebrenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have lived there all my life. There were always tensions between Serbs and the Bosnian Muslim minority, but I couldn't quite believe there would ever be a war. I was mistaken. In 1992, [when the conflict started] many members of the Bosnian community fled into the woods. But I had a frail, elderly grandfather, an aging father, and my mother and step-father refused to leave their homes — so I stayed with my family. In May, they shot my father. He was a fragile man with a walking stick and not a threat to anyone. As the conflict intensified, tens of thousands of displaced people from around Srebrenica came to the city seeking shelter. In 1993, the UN Security Council declared the city a weapon-free haven. Despite this, after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, men and boys fled from the city, which was surrounded by the military. Through a systematic effort by Serb forces in Bosnia, more than 8,000 boys and men between the ages of 14 and 75 were murdered. I managed to escape into the woods and reach a safe area in Tuzla, after walking for seven Read More