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By Stephen Bartlett and Beverly Bell
December 15th, 2014
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
By Sara Mersha
December 9th, 2014
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.
Farmers have worked the rugged land in Western Africa for generations, moving seasonally from field to forest for food and livelihood. While life was never easy, the community worked together, in harmony with their surroundings, to provide for themselves and their neighbors.
All that changed when the government planted a virtual “For Lease” sign on the land. China and other buyers grabbed it up, quickly draining the land of nutrients with vast fields of monocrops for export.
This is the plight of many farmers across the Global South. Massive land grabs – combined with the influx of genetically modified seeds under the banner of the “Green Revolution” – come with empty promises of increased agricultural productivity and the end of hunger.
When Maria and Rubem dos Santos were pushed off their land in northeast Brazil to make way for a sugar cane plantation, their lives changed forever. In previous years, the family supported itself by growing food for a balanced diet. Now, instead of farming, Rubem had to work in the cane fields. The chemicals made him sick, and his meager income didn’t stretch far. The family was going hungry.
This spring, Grassroots International was invited to participate in a project of the Kindle Project called the "Indie Philanthropy Initiative." For more information about the project, visit indph.org. The interview below includes reflections from Nikhil Aziz and Sara Mersha.
How do you do your funding and please describe your organization’s approach and process, explaining how it is different from conventional philanthropy.
Ali Abd El Rahman has been in the United States for only a few days, but it’s the longest he’s ever lived without having to go through a military checkpoint.
El Rahman lives in Jerusalem, and as a Palestinian, his actions, resource use, transportation, and work are under Israeli government control. He doesn’t even have a legal passport; the Israeli government issues Jerusalem Palestinians travel documents that require a lot of explanation when he attempts to cross international borders.
Rose Edith Germain of the National Congress of Papaye Peasant Movement (MPNKP) tells us, in her own words, why training is the life blood of organizations. She also speaks to the vitality of partnerships and the power of food sovereignty to create lasting change.
In the morning of September 30, 2014, members of the National Police and military conducted an eviction in the Afro-descendant and indigenous (Garifuna) community of Barra Vieja, Tela, in northern Honduras. Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, or OFRANEH, are demanding respect for their right to their ancestral home and an immediate return of the usurped lands.
by Jen B.
Human rights defenders in Haiti risk their lives to protect the basic rights of Haitian citizens. Exile, intimidation, death threats, and assassinations have become part and parcel with human rights work in Haiti. Since January 2014, 15 local human rights defenders have been the targets of physical attacks and death threats that aim to end their critical work.
Widespread protests and strategic organizing succeeded in defending Mayan lands and food sovereignty in Guatemala. This marks a major – and unprecedented – victory as the congress repealed the “Monsanto Law,” preventing threatened exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies.