“The drop of water breaks the earth not because of its strength but because of its persistence.”
The Defenders is the story of the men and women who dedicate their lives to fight for Human Rights in Latin America. These social leaders were once ordinary people from many walks of life: stay at home parents, corporate lawyers, farmers; parents, sons and daughters so moved by the injustices they witnessed or suffered that they changed the path of their lives to serve their communities in the fight against societal, environmental and power injustices.
Building peaceful and democratic societies often comes at a price. Every defender faces risks in terms of combating corruption, from defamation and stigmatisation, unwarranted criminal or civil proceedings, to intimidation and attacks, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. More than 300 human rights defenders were killed in 2019 alone. Two-thirds of these killings took place in Latin America where impunity from prosecution is too often the norm. Ensuring the safety of these defenders is vital at a time when many of their most cherished freedoms are in jeopardy.
I’m passionate about helping the defenders to tell their stories, revealing their strength, their resilience and the core values that motivate each of them to keep going in spite of such challenging circumstances.
The defenders is a story-telling project celebrating the work of human rights defenders. This project was born in September 2018 when PBI UK Director Susi Bascon and independent photographer and filmmaker Manu Valcarce travelled to Colombia to meet human rights defenders and record their stories. Inspired by their wisdom, they realised the importance of sharing their work with the world. Since then, they have travelled to Mexico, Honduras and Kenya and gathered over 100 interviews with human rights defenders from all walks of life.
See full projects at www.the-defenders.co.uk