For the past 15 months, Tulia Maris Valencia and Sara Quiñonez — mother and daughter, and Afro-Colombian human rights defenders — were unjustly detained in a maximum-security prison, in retaliation for raising their voice on behalf of their community.
On July 12, 2019, after months of arbitrary detention, Sara and Tulia were released from prison, pending trial — a huge victory and relief. They were welcomed at the prison gates by women and girls who beat drums and sang songs to celebrate the activists’ freedom.
Sara and Tulia have dedicated their lives to protecting Afro-Colombian communities and to pushing for change at the forefront of Colombian movements for racial, gender and environmental justice. To repress their voices and courageous activism, the Colombian government arrested Sara and Tulia on baseless charges, part of a growing trend of the criminalization of human rights defenders in Colombia and globally.
In Colombia, their arrest came against a backdrop of escalating violence and threats against human rights defenders — with up to 226 social leaders assassinated in 2018, of whom Afro-descendant and Indigenous leaders were disproportionately impacted. On May 4, 2019, Afro-Colombian peace advocates were attacked by a group of armed men during a community meeting in the region of Norte del Cauca, and afterward, continued to receive death threats — one of the latest manifestations of this dangerous trend.
Your tireless advocacy for Sara and Tulia, alongside MADRE and our Colombian partner organization Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN), is what made this victory possible. You wrote letters, signed action alerts, spoke out on social media, and stood in solidarity with Sara and Tulia. Your love and resistance kept the spotlight on Sara and Tulia, making all the difference.
The struggle is far from over. Sara and Tulia, who are out on bail, will still have to face a trial. They will continue to demand their freedom. We will need your help and your ongoing solidarity as we fight for peace, rights, and justice for Sara, Tulia, and women human rights defenders everywhere.
Thank you, as always, for standing with us. To see what you helped make possible, read more about Sara and Tulia’s imprisonment and the campaign to free them.