Each day, we hear new stories about how global warming is affecting people and communities around the world. From the Carteret Islanders - facing forced relocation from their homes as the islands they live on become slowly submerged by rising sea levels - to children in Nepal, missing school and experiencing food/water shortages due to intensifying floods and landslides, the human impact of the climate crisis is becoming ever more real (some scientists predict there'll be up to 150 million climate refugees by 2050).
On Earth Day 2009 we launched a campaign that asked: do environmental rights = human rights? To continue the conversation, here's a special 12-part series with the full, unedited interviews of the human rights activists we met at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) conference in March 2009. Representing 10 countries, these advocates talk about the intersection of human rights and environmental rights and reflect on their own experiences working on issues ranging from land rights to logging to corporate accountability and climate change.
Roughly 150 advocates for elder rights from around the United States visited their representatives in the U.S. Congress this week in an advocacy day organized by WITNESS partner NCOA, the National Council on Aging. Among the issues they'll be advocating for is the passing of the Elder Justice Act (EJA), federal legislation that would provide a foundation to prevent, detect, treat, intervene in and prosecute elder abuse.
*This is the first post of a weekly series we'll be doing in September on Indigenous media.
Since April 9, about 50,000 Amazonian Indigenous people from territories all over Peru have been on strike to protest trade laws resulting from the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. These decrees, pushed forward by Peruvian President Alan García, aim to open up Indigenous ancestral territories to exploitation
January 2010 Update:
HOPS Campaign promoting zero tolerance for violence against sex workers in Macedonia is off to a great start! We interviewed Marija Tosheva, HOPS Program Director, about her expectations and the role that the newly released video You Must Know About Me plays in the campaign. In her words: “This is the first time that sex workers have the opportunity to speak directly to the people in power and also to advocate for themselves… Because usually the laws, policies and strategies are build for the people, but without asking the people…”
UPDATE: Watch livefeeds Mark and Emily steamed this past weekend from a refugee camp in Western Thailand - http://qik.com/ddtv.
Mark Belinsky and Emily Jacobi are Founders and Co-Directors of Digital Democracy (Dd), an organization based in New York which empowers civic engagement through the use of digital technologies. Digital Democracy works with local community-based organizations to create the most effective programming. Presently, Dd is working with Burmese communities in Thailand, India and Bangladesh, as well as the United States.
For the next month Mark and Emily will be working in Thailand to launch two of Digital Democracy's programs:
I became an American citizen on a rainy Friday a few weeks ago. When I entered the room where the ceremony was held, I was handed a little paper American flag so that I and about 50 other new Americans could wave it as a recorded message from President Obama welcomed us to the country. Then, a very serious-looking man from the government said: "Now make sure you register to vote and exercise your new rights!"
That's what thousands of women did in Zimbabwe in March of 2008. They went out and voted.
Sixteen years ago, 30,000 indigenous people and rainforest dwellers from the Ecuadorean Amazon filed a class-action lawsuit in a NY federal court against U.S. oil giant Texaco (purchased by Chevron in 2001). The plaintiffs allege that Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon since 1964, resulting in one of the worst environmental and humanitarian disasters on the planet and decimating the traditional lifestyles of at least five local indigenous groups.
-- "You have to ask yourself why these young men want to join these [armed] groups... what have made them so angry, so desperate? What made the people in this picture do what they do? What made them need to carry those weapons?" -- Marcus Bleasdale
Marcus Bleasdale is a photojournalist who has spent eight years covering the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an ongoing conflict that has left over 5 million people dead and millions more displaced since 1998.
UPDATES: THANK YOU to the 1600+ people who signed the petition and the thousands more that joined the campaign on the Hub, Facebook, and Twitter. Here's how the campaign unfolded last week:
*Aug 31: WITNESS' Bukeni Waruzi arrives in South Africa to meet with Kuda (from RAU), Memory (one of the women who shares her story in Hear Us), and members of the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe and IDASA.
*Sept 1: Memory and Kuda are interviewed on live TV by SABC (see video here); other media outlets like The Times from South Africa also report on the campaign.
*Sept 2: The petitions are delivered to key South African government officials on their way to SADC and they pledge to take the message to the summit.
*Sept 4: Dispatch from South Africa - New video provides full update of the week.
*Sept 7: RAU publishes an open letter to SADC in the Congolese media as African Heads of State meet in Kinshasa.
*Sept 9: New video from Bukeni thanks everyone and looks forward to the next steps in the campaign.