Defending Human Rights

They Uproot and We Plant: Olive Trees and Resistance in Palestine

Last week we got word that settlers had destroyed hundreds of olive trees very near to the area in the Southern Hebron Hills where Grassroots International’s delegation to Palestine harvested olives in October.  Similar acts of violence by settlers are a reality that Palestinian farmers face day in and day out throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and a painful reminder of the impact of the settlers on stolen land.  

Stories of Victory and Struggle from 2014

Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food,  together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.

Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

Seeds of Resistance in the Project of Life

Think of the seed as the first link of the food chain.  If this prime component is compromised, the chain becomes untenable.  What’s more, if corporate interests control seeds, we are all subjugated to their agenda at every subsequent link of the chain.  In fact, the preponderance of GMO and copyrighted seeds from agribusiness laboratories and mono-cropped fields already determine to a frightening degree the foods we can buy and eat.  To counter these billion dollar agro-corporate interests, seed sovereignty activists have sought strength in their greatest resources — their knowledge and collective power.

Land, Resistance and a Door in the West Bank

The hulking Separation Wall cuts Abu Nidal off from his Palestinian Village.  He lives in the home he built in 1974. Israel began to build a settlement on the land just four years later and, since, has steadily surrounded Abu Nidal’s small house with towering barriers and illegal housing projects. At one point he had a cafeteria on the road. Israel demolished it.  He had a storage facility for his farming equipment.  Israel destroyed it 10 times.  He had a green house.  Israel bulldozed it.

I visited Abu Nidal with one of Grassroots International’s partners, the Stop the Wall Campaign. His story remains with me, feeding outrage at the atrocities he endures and hope for the ongoing resistance to land grabs.

Migration, Food Sovereignty and Land Rights: A conversation with Carlos Marentes, Sr.

On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.

The Struggle for Indigenous Land and Autonomy in Honduras

Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.

Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.

10 Photos for International Human Rights Day: A Tribute to International Social Movements for Resource Rights

December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. On this day, Grassroots International is honored to call special attention to the social movements that are on the frontlines of the struggle for resource rights – the human rights to land and water, as well as food sovereignty and climate justice. We have much to celebrate, with several major successes that social movements have achieved in the struggle for resource rights over recent years. At the same time, over the past year, we have been heartbroken as we’ve lost many people who have been courageously defending resource in each of Grassroots International’s program areas. The photos and stories below are just a small sample of some of these movements and human rights defenders.

Haitian Organizations Call for Elections

Since coming to power in 2011, the administration of President Martelly has failed to hold elections for senate seats, the chamber of deputies, and local.  Fed up with inactivity, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) renewed calls for elections in Haiti, joining other human rights organizations throughout the nation. 

Common Oppressions and Powerful Solidarity

I joined the chants of “Black Lives Matter” last night, together with other staff of Grassroots International and several thousand other Bostonians, marching to the steps of the State House. This was my first demonstration since I came onboard as Executive Director of Grassroots International (two days ago!) and solidified the local-global links that are so central to this work.

For me, and for so many others who care about human rights and social justice, the issue goes far beyond Michael Brown or Eric Garner or a litany of other names on a case-by-case basis. The issue is the systemic devaluing of some lives and the protection of others in such a way that benefits some and subjugates others.  

Day of Action Against Violence Towards Women

Grassroots international joins with our partners at the Via Campesina in denouncing violence of all kinds against women -- including personal and structural. No woman should fear to live in her home, be barred from owning the land she farms or experieince barriers to full livelihood and dignity.