Land Rights

Cameroon activist takes on land grabber from Wall Street, now faces imprisonment

Land grabs -- the large-scale and sometimes shady acquisition of massive tracts of land by powerful financial interest -- have become a serious problem in the Global South.  As a result, peasant farmers, particularly in indigenous communities, are being driven from their ancestral lands.  Fortunately, a growing and increasingly well-organized movement of resistance to land grabs is fighting back --and succeeding. The following story, from Grassroots ally GRAIN, shows how one community leader and his community are pushing back against the grabs.
 

Veolia, a target of human rights organizations, derailed in Massachusetts

Since our office is in Boston, Grassroots International takes special satisfaction with the ouster of Veolia from running Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad system here. Veolia’s operation in the occupied West Bank has made it a consistent target of human rights organizations, including Grassroots International and our allies. We join with other members of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, which initiated the “Derail Veolia” campaign. While we celebrate this moment, we recognize the importance of continuing to push for the MBTA and MassDOT to recognize human rights as part of its decision-making – including both international concerns as well as the need to ensure good jobs and local hiring.

Advances on the Journey to Food Sovereignty and Human Rights

This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food.  As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year.  In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate.  Below are some of many highlights from the last year.

Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil

140 Indigenous Families Win Back Land in Guatemala

The Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) announced the redistribution of land last month to 140 indigenous and peasant families. The families were part of the largest violent eviction in the recent history of Guatemala in March 2011 when non-state actors, police, military forces and the government forced nearly 800 indigenous Q’eqchí families of their land without notice, destroyed their crops and burned their homes.

TIAA-CREF Divests Social Choice Fund from Controversial Veolia Corporation

Grassroots International and its partners in the We Divest coalition join activists from around the country in congratulating TIAA-CREF for taking a step toward living up to its motto, “Investment for the Greater Good”.  “TIAA-CREF has made a move in the right direction by divesting its Social Choice Fund of Veolia stock given that Veolia's business model and practices have consistently put profit over people -- whether privatizing water resources around the world, or enabling Israeli occupation and segregation in the West Bank. This is a victory for all those concerned with human rights and justice,” said Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International.  

Read the full press release below.

"Why Did They Kill My Family?" -- Testimony from a survivor of Israeli Operation Cast Lead

The narrative below is the third in a series of three stories documented by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Grassroots International partner since 1996. PCHR has gained an international reputation as an independent voice on human rights documenting abuses carried out by both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.  Raji Sourani, the founder and director of PCHR, recently received the Right Livelihood Award (known as the Alternative Nobel Prize).  The PCHR documents human rights violations, provides legal aid to victims, advocates for greater economic and social rights, and, in particular, defends the rights of Gaza fishers who are routinely denied access to their fishing waters by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Dismantling the Free Trade Regime

In January 1994, the Zapatistas - autonomous indigenous communities who organized themselves in a system of liberated zones within Chiapas, Mexico – emerged out of the jungles with a clear and unified voice in opposition to the system of neoliberalism being imposed upon their lives through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  A trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico, NAFTA instituted a set of regulations that made it easier for transnational corporations to make profits across borders, no matter what the costs or consequences to people and the environment.  As a result, thousands of workers in the US lost their jobs as companies moved their operations to Mexico where the costs of production were cheaper.