Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Human Rights Action update October 8-14

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 this link.


United Kingdom

The strike at the National Gallery of Art in London has ended with success for the union and the reinstatement of the union leader. Thanks to all who participated in this campaign. Note that there are other campaigns mentioned in the announcement, please join them.


Ecuadorian authorities have abandoned their plans to shut down freedom of expression organization Fundamedios. This is a welcome move which will allow Fundamedios to continue carrying out their legitimate human rights work. No further action is requested from the UA network. Many thanks to all those who took action.


In the wake of the closing of the Titan and Pollyanna blogs, we are continuing the charity corner here. In the wake of the closing of the Titan and Pollyanna blogs, we are continuing the charity corner here.  This month as violence and counter-violence square off at one another we refer you to Btzelem, the The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.  The site is self-explanatory and we call on you to hit the donation tab.


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 return to actions on behalf of specific tribes and peoples. We ask you to write to the President of the Philippines expressing your concern  for the Batak tribe of the Philippines who are at risk from land loss. Government legislation banning their traditional farming methods has had a devastating impact. Survival’s campaign helped to partially lift this ban but the Batak still face food shortages.

Apropos indigenous people, we note that "Columbus Day," which commemorates the landing of Columbus on October 12, 1492, is being replaced by many cities and states in the US by Indigenous People Day.  The arrival of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere brought in an era of genocide and enslavement and the sufferings of the native peoples should be remembered. 



We have added 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 your attention to slavery at sea. Isolated at sea or on lakes, fishermen do not have access to the protections available in landside workplaces. Their isolation leaves them trapped, unable to escape for years at a time, whilst being forced to work. At worst, a disagreement with those in charge can result in summary execution and being thrown overboard. Please act on behalf of enslaved fishermen, as in the ship shown here.


Shooting in public places just goes on and no one seems to have the will to stop it. Mike Lukovich predicts when it will happen.


Government forces in Sudan have committed war crimes in South Kordofan by attacking people, using indiscriminate weapons and denying people humanitarian assistance. Please join the protest against targeting of civilians in this civil war.


Several opposition figures in Guinea have been arbitrarily arrested ahead of the 11 October presidential elections. This includes union leader Jean Dougou Guilavogui and at least 35 other political opponents, who were arrested following a violent episode in Koundara, northern Guinea. Some of the detainees were not involved in the violence and actively called for peace. Please call for their release.


Dual Belgian-Moroccan national Ali Aarrass was beaten and verbally abused on 29 September at Salé II prison, near Rabat. He has been on hunger strike since 25 August. He is at risk of further ill-treatment. Please call for his protection.


Two Palestinian refugees coming from Syria, Ali Fares and Mohammed Fares, and Syrian refugee Abdalsalam Sakal, have been detained in Turkey since 22 September and are facing deportation. If deported they are at risk of serious human rights violations. Please call on the Turkish government to halt these deportation.


Global snack and beverage giant PepsiCo is violating the rights of a courageous group of workers in West Bengal, India who formed a trade union and were fired as a result.  Please tell Pepsico to stop squeezing its workers.

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