On Thursday 6th October 2016, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) celebrated the courage of Jineth Bedoya Lima, a brave Colombian journalist and human rights campaigner.
Ahead of the 10th anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder on Friday 7th October 2016, RAW in WAR honoured Jineth Bedoya Lima with the 2016 Anna Politkovskaya Award for her courage to speak out and to give a voice to the more than 13,000 women in Colombia who, like Jineth herself, have been subjected to sexual violence at the hands of armed groups during the armed conflict.
We celebrated Jineth Bedoya and her fearless reporting of the atrocities against civilians during the armed conflict and the corruption, which has resulted from the 52 years of conflict in Colombia. In 2000, whilst attending an interview in a prison for a report on the involvement of the military in arming paramilitaries, Jineth was kidnapped by several men, claiming to work for a paramilitary leader. She was taken to a warehouse where she was beaten and gang-raped for days, and was later dumped naked, on a roadside. Despite the constreport and to seek the truth
In 2009 Jineth broke her silence and initiated the campaign “Now is Not the Time to Remain Silent” (“No Es Hora De Callar”) which calls for justice for the thousands of Colombian women subjected to rape and sexual violence during the conflict. Jineth courageously began the campaign as she herself has been fighting for justice since 2000 and knows the risks that women face, especially when speaking out against armed men who raped and sexually abused them.
In February and March 2016, two paramilitary fighters were sentenced for the kidnapping, torture and rape of Jineth Bedoya in 2000 – a long-awaited step forward towards getting justice done for the brutality she suffered.
On accepting the award, Jineth Bedoya Lima said:
“To defend the truth is one of the most difficult missions anyone could undertake, and its price can even be that person’s life, as it was for Anna Politkovskaya. For her, and for thousands and thousands of women who gave their last breath for their work, we cannot fail. We cannot falter. For me, as a Colombian, a journalist and a survivor of war in my country, there could be no greater honour than to reclaim the fight – both professional and personal – that Anna fought, for truth in her country and for those who believed in her work. The award that carries her name inspires my belief that so much pain and so much anguish has been worth it.
Just as I receive the news of the Anna Politkovskaya award, 52 years of war are coming to an end in my country. The bullets that took her life are the same that ended the life of over 200 000 Colombians: the business of war has not only contaminated the souls of those who profit from it, but it has also made our society hardened and intolerant. The legacy of women like Anna is not to allow this to be happening again and again. It is the one good thing we can leave behind during our brief passage through this world.”
The RAW in WAR Nominations Committee for the 2016 Anna Politkovskaya Award is deeply humbled by Jineth Bedoya Lima’s courage to become the voice of the women survivors of the war in Colombia, despite the danger she is facing.
On both Jineth Bedoya Lima and Valentina Cherevatenko receiving the 2016 Anna Politkovskaya Award, Baron Judd of Portsea, a member of the 2016 Award Nominations Committee, said:
“Anna must never be forgotten. She was a beacon of integrity and of total commitment to truth whatever the consequences for her. Her courage was all the greater because I am certain she knew very well what was likely to happen to her. Valentina and Jineth follow in that tradition. They are both fine and challenging examples to us all. Like many others, they deserve our full and unswerving loyalty and support. Freedom and democracy can only be as good as the information and analysis which is provided by the media. Today’s generation of journalists and human rights defenders need constantly to measure themselves against the lives and standards of Anna, Valentina, Jineth and their like.”
The awards will be presented to the Valentina and Jineth in March 2017 in London at RAW in WAR’s ‘Refusing to be Silenced’ event, part of the 2017 Women of the World (WOW) Festival at the London’s Southbank Centre. RAW in WAR marks the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder 10 years ago by giving the award in her name annually to a woman, who, like Anna, speaks truth to power.