Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Human Rights Action Update May 28-June 3

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012


Survival International provides a useful tool for locating the embassy of any country in your country. You can also find embassies at


The state legislature has overridden the governor's veto and the law to abolish the death penalty in the state is now the law of the land.  Cheers to the lawmakers of Nebraska.


Just a year after Vermont became the first state to require labels for products made with genetically modified organisms, Governor Peter Shumlin on Thursday signed an equally controversial but very different kind of legislation: the state has now become the first to remove philosophical exemptions from its vaccination law. Cheers to the legislature and governor of Vermont!!
Susanne.Posel-Headline.News.Official- vermont.vaccineshb98.mandatory.philosophical.exemption.01_occupycorporatism


In the wake of the closing of the Titan and Pollyanna blogs, we are continuing the charity corner here.  This week, we are referring you to NALA. The NALA Foundation, a company for public benefit, is the executive arm of CEMTA, the Center for Emerging Tropical Diseases and AIDS at the Ben-Gurion University.  It was established by Prof. Zvi Bentwich and Dr Leslie Lobel. Their involvement over the past several decades in both clinical infectious disease work and biomedical research, has led them to conclude that there is a significant connection between Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The Foundation was found worthy of a grand grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We quote the mission statement:
  •     Fighting Infectious Diseases and Overcoming Poverty, focusing mainly in Africa.
  •     NALA is committed to the values of TIKUN OLAM - "repairing the world", caring for the poor and the underprivileged, taking responsibility for global citizens 
Free of the Bilharzia parasite

Please donate.


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 turn our attention to the Ayoreo tribe of Paraguay. Satellite images have caught a Brazilian cattle ranching firm, Yaguarete Porá S.A., illegally clearing land inhabited by uncontacted natives in Paraguay.  This is a question not only of stealing land but also a lethal danger to the uncontacted tribespeople who can be wiped out by diseases for which they have no immune system protection. Please write a letter to Yaguarete boss, Marcelo Bastos Ferraz, asking that he immediately suspend all work on the Ayoreo’s ancestral land, and return his property to its rightful owners. A template text is available on the site.


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. Look for this logo.
 Image result for fair trade
This week we call you attention to slavery in Mauritania. According to the recently-published 2014 Global Slavery Index, there are over 155,000 people trapped in modern slavery in the country, accounting for over 4 percent of the entire population. This makes Mauritania the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world. Despite outlawing slavery three times and making it a criminal offence in 2007, the Mauritanian Government has failed to genuinely tackle the problem. Anti-slavery activists Biram Dah Abeid, Brahim Bilal, Djiby Sow have been sentenced to two years in prison. Please join the call for their release. For more details on the struggle against slavery go here.
Biram Dah Abeid


Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists are at risk of being denied their right to peaceful assembly and at risk of violence during the Pride march planned in Kyiv on 6 June as the police fail to show full commitment to protect the march. Please call for security for the marchers.


Human rights lawyer,  Arão Bula Tempo, was conditionally released on 13 May. However, human rights activist, José Marcos Mavungo, remains in detention at Cabinda civil prison (Cadeia Civil de Comarca de Cabinda) as authorities continue to conduct investigations into his case. They have both been charged separately with crimes against the security of the state and risk jail sentences of between 10 – 15 years. Please call for a stop to these prosecutions and the release of José Marcos Mavungo. Multilingual reports are available at the link.


Workers in the tobacco fields of North Carolina work in appalling conditions. Tobacco farm workers in North Carolina whose employer, the North Carolina Growers Association, has signed an agreement with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) for representation work in better conditions than their unorganized peers, and have access to a grievance mechanism when problems arise.

ACT NOW to call on Reynolds American to sign the same agreement with FLOC, and encourage their suppliers to give the workers who grow the tobacco in Reynolds’ cigarettes the voice they deserve! Whatever we may think of the use of tobacco products, the growers have no right to abuse their workers. Please take a moment to send off your message of protest:


The Chinese government has long repressed any non-government labor organization efforts. The sole independent union is in Hongkong. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the only independent trade union in the country, has launched a major global campaign to demand that the Chinese government respect workers' rights and end police violence.
 It just needs a click and send, so please join the protest.

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