Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Human Rights Action Update May 7-13

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012


Survival International provides a useful tool for locating the embassy of any country in your country.


In the wake of the closing of the Titan and Pollyanna blogs, we are continuing the charity corner here.  This week, in honor of Mothers' Day, we refer you to the Because I am a Girl campaign of Plan International. The campaign aims to reach 4 million girls directly – improving their lives with access to school, skills, livelihoods and protection. Please support this most worthy cause.
Goals for Girls
Score a goal for girls


Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming.

This week we focus on the the Penan who live in Sarawak, which is part of Malaysia. Since the 1970s, the Penan have had their forest destroyed by logging and oil palm plantations. The government has told the Penan that they have no rights to their land at all until they ‘settle down’ or start farming.
A Penan man collects forest fruit. © Andy Rain/Nick Rain/Survival

The Malaysian government claims that Sarawak is being logged sustainably, but in fact its forests are being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world. As the forests are logged, the rivers are silted up, killing the fish. The game is being scared deeper into the few remaining forests. Please act for them.


We are adding a new section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. We refer you to the site of Walk Free where you can find a large number of campaigns against manifestations of slavery in different countries. The number of people living in slavery is of the order of 35 million, which indicates the extent of the problem. We suggest that you look up the Fair Trade movement in your country and make an effort to avoid buying slave-produced products. This week we focus on conflict minerals in the European Union. Let us quote from a letter by an activist in Congo: "Conflict minerals -- minerals that are mined, and fueling conflict, in areas such as the Congo -- mean that a huge range of electronic products could be tainted by forced labor, sexual violence and children forced to fight by armed groups. But we have an opportunity to start to change that,,We all have the ability to make change happen."
EU 200X133
The European Commission has put forward a proposal to encourage companies to check their supply chains to ensure that the minerals they buy from conflict-affected and high-risk areas are sourced responsibly and don’t fund violence or suffering. The vote is soon, so please act to influence the MPE's in Brussels. You need not be a citizen of an EU country to act on this matter.


A protest held on 29 April against changes in rules for social security and retirement affecting teachers was met with unnecessary and excessive use of force by military police in Paraná state, south Brazil, including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. Over 200 protesters were injured and at least seven are in detention. Please raise your voice in protest against this violation of civil rights.


Environmental activist and community leader, Darwin Javier Ramírez Piedra continues to be targeted in what appears to be an attempt to silence his campaigning against the impact of mining activities on the community’s right to water. This will have a chilling effect on others wishing to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association.Please act on his behalf.


LABOR RIGHTS Hödlmayr does not respect trade union rights. 

The Austrian-founded multinational transportation company Hödlmayr International AG is making the situation of trade union officials at its Hungarian subsidiary difficult while it intimidates employees who want to join the union. Most recently they sacked the leader of the local organization, László Benkó, after he made a statement during a trial concerning the wage system.

Please join the campaign to have him reinstated and to force the company to respect the rights of its workers.

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