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By Jonathan Leaning
January 25th, 2013
Grassroots International supports hands-on solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges: hunger, violations of human rights, climate change and environmental degradation, and economic disparity. During the last year, Grassroots International and our global partners and allies – including small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists – achieved some victories in their struggle to secure the human right to land, water and food for all. Below are just some of the highlights.
Local residents from San Dionisio del Mar (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico) are protesting the construction of a huge wind farm in their community. Their prolonged and energetic resistance has been met with violent repression and even death threats made against several opposition leaders.
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Vaikuntha is a young Savaara (an indigenous tribe from east central India) man I met in Bhimaavaram village in East Godavari district of India's Andhra Pradesh (AP) state on a site visit with Yakshi (a Grassroots grantee).
Thirteen years ago, he finished 10th grade and went back to his village in Srikakulam district. The school he was in was in a different area, and he didn’t like the fact that they made him and his other Savaara friends take more Hindu sounding names like Vaikuntha or Mahesh.
There were a lot of young people back in his village. They had many questions about what kinds of development serves people.
Bhoodevi (second from left) is a young Savaara woman from Srikakulam district (county) in Andhra Pradesh (AP) state in India. Her name means Earth Goddess or Mother Earth. The Savaaras are an Adivasi (ɑːdɪˈvɑːsi/ literally, earliest inhabitants) indigenous group that straddle the forests and hills in the border regions of modern day AP and Odisha states in east-central India. In Srikakulam they along with the Jataapus form the core of the indigenous population.
By Shadia Lahlou
January 7th, 2013
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories (oPt) has not only physically dominated the land that supports the Palestinian people but also the vital water resources that feed the land. The natural cycles and recharging of these important water resources have been altered by the systematic confiscation and control policies imposed by Israel that deny Palestinians’ right to the water resources in the oPt. Drought-induced water scarcity, poor sanitation conditions and low economic development further add to the hardship of water-starved Palestinians.
Four Years on from Operation Cast Lead: Worsening Impacts of Israeli Military Aggression on Community Agriculture in Gaza
Last week marked the 4th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s deadly 23-day military offensive launched in 2008, which resulted in the killing of 1,167 civilians and injury to 5,300 more in Gaza. It also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure in the already besieged Gaza Strip, which had been struggling under the Israeli blockade since 2007.
Globally, activists at the forefront of human rights protection are coming under increased scrutiny and attack by state and non-state actors. Although being a human rights defender is becoming dangerous work, the commitment to human rights promotion and defense amongst activist has not waned. Nowhere is this truer than in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), where our partners have had their offices raided and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
A massive, very active social movement against the loss of land and ecosystems caused by hydro-electric dams is making headway in Brazil. The movement is little known in North America so far, but that’s changing. And it’s on the brink of spreading across the world wherever large dams are being built and waterways threatened.
But what’s all the fuss, some may ask. Doesn’t it usually only affect isolated communities, and isn’t hydropower a much more environmentally friendly source of cheap energy, especially compared with nuclear, coal, or oil? Are these anti-dam activists clinging to a kind of prosaic, but impractical pastoral way of life, or just trying to push the dams into somebody else’s backyard?
Leaders of the Guarani Kaiowá boldly announced that the entire community would rather die in their land defending from businesses and corporations. Their assertion is more than a war declaration. For us, the buyers of “clean energy,” their pronouncement is a jarring wake-up call that the “Green Economy” actually promotes genocide of indigenous people and Afro-descendent communities –whether in the form of a slow die off of disposed peoples or a quicker resistance.
The Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) is one example of the amazing work peasant organizations are doing across rural communities in Haiti. In those communities, peasant organizations are working hard with limited resources. While post-2010 earthquake relief funds from big international funders (like USAID) are being squandered building large industrial complexes on productive agricultural land, peasant organizations are planting trees to stave off soil erosion, preserving Creole seeds to ensure seed sovereignty for future generations, and improving access to life-giving water.