Meet Mona, our new Shelter City guest

Peace Brigades International has the chance to welcome a new Shelter City guest this autumn! Mona*, an environmental activist from Bolivia arrived in the Netherlands in late September, and she will be staying in Utrecht until the end of December.

Mona, an environmental activist from Bolivia, is the coordinator of a non-violent environmental movement that operates across 5 different cities in Bolivia.

Centered on non-violence as its foundational principle, the movement undertakes humanitarian endeavors that encompass supporting volunteer forest firefighters, indigenous communities, orphanages, and hospitals.

This movement actively participates in non-violent demonstrations, educational programs, and strategic endeavors, all with the overarching goal of forging an alternative route to democratic evolution within society. Furthermore, Mona, through her dedicated efforts, raises awareness about the persistent environmental and Human Rights violations perpetrated by the government and private companies in Bolivia.

The current situation in Bolivia is troublesome, with multiple Human Rights issues surfacing, including governmental interference in the juridical system, attacks on journalists, and breaches of indigenous rights. The Bolivian government has consistently fallen short in safeguarding the rights of environmental activists within the country.

Mona, along with the rest of the movement, is dedicated to continue her work as advocate for change despite receiving substantial threats, harassment and attacks. Their movement’s success and influence have captured the attention of government officials who have tried to silence their advocacy using defamation campaigns, surveillance and intimidation tactics.

“For me, it has been a shock to realize how much I have normalized the idea of living under threat”

During her stay in the Netherlands, Mona wishes to engage in public speaking and awareness raising advocacy, about the current Human and environmental Rights violations in Bolivia . Additionally, she wants to receive capacity building training in order to advance her skills as an environmental rights defender.

Mona has already successfully attended an Environmental Law course offered by Utrecht University in the Human Rights Institute (SIM). At the same time, Mona has given lectures at CEDLA and UVA where interested students had the opportunity to hear her story firsthand.

Mona hopes to spread awareness about the situation in Bolivia, reenergize in the Netherlands, and explore the Dutch countryside.

Photos by True Heroes Films

*Mona is a pseudonym. Due to her security situation we don’t photograph her recognisable.