Enrique Chimonja, human rights defender who loves his land

Enrique Chimonja Coy (Kike) is a finalist for the National Human Rights Prize, Diakonia 2017 for his valuable work in peacebuilding and supporting grass-roots organisations, particularly during the year 2016. His work is concentrated in restorative and reparative memory exercises which hope to support reconciliation processes in the territories where he works.

This work in defense of human rights and strengthening grassroot projects in a region affected by a humanitarian crisis puts him in serious risk. National and international recognition for his work would be a huge contribution to his protection, and to all of the people involved in the processess he accompanies, it would also represent important support for the construction of a strong and lasting peace in Colombia.

Here we highlight a few memories from the PBI volunteers who have accompanied Kike during the last few years:

“For me accompanying Kike in the field is memorable for his sense of humour and for the happiness he brings to the communities he works in.  Immediately you notice his high level of commitment to the defense of human rights and with the communities and his entertaining spirit.” – Heidi Mitton

Gaby, Kike, Heidi
Enrique Chimonja with Gaby and Heidi from PBI

“I like calling him Chimonja, his surname with indigenous sounds that make him stand out as unique and different.  Like his white shirts he wears in the hottest regions of Colombia where he accompanies communities who suffer every possible problem, to tinge the moment, I imagine, with hope.  Chimonja nourishes you with context filled with dates, places, names and memories that he mixes with his unique sense of humour so the digestion of the (difficult) history is made lighter.  Chimonja is the type of human rights defender that loves the land he walks on and revidicates its value for the ancestral and ethnic communities. Yes, Enrique Chimonja inspires a total admiration for grass-root work, complex but at the same time enriching”. – Silvia Arjona

22. equipo misionero CIJP (2)
PBI accompanying Maru and Kike, 2011

“The first time I accompanied Kike I was impressed by his commitment, the care and attention he gave to every member of the communities he works in, as well as every member of his team and the people accompanying him.  I remember improvised birthday celebrations at Kike´s initiative, always with cakes and songs for each person despite the heavy work load.  He never misses an opportunity to celebrate joy and life!” – Laeticia Suchecki

Members of PBI accompanying Kike in the Naya river

“I remember Enrique Chimonja always in conversation and sharing the Colombian reality through meaningful dialogues, in every conversation you can feel the Colombian reality that he has had to live through and that many have experienced in this country, indigenous communities, afro-descendants, campesinas, that search for another way to live.

This reflection of reality is converted into the reflection of the hugely resistant communities, that is expressed day after day in Enrique with his sense of humour.  I remember that in every moment, even though it may seem adverse and complex, Kike with his comments or jokes relieves the tensions and humanizes us again so we can keep on going.” – Gaby Vargas




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