Posts Tagged ‘campesinos’

Binding UN treaty needed for protection of environmental human rights defenders

June 11, 2014

Defenders of the environment often face terrible consequences for their actions, suffering rights violations and violence, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International to be released on June 26, during the 26th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council . “A new case of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights is reported to us on average once a week, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lucia Ortiz, of Friends of the Earth International. “Environmental defenders who uphold the right of communities to determine their own development path in opposition to corporate-driven mega projects are subject to many types of human rights abuses, often committed by corporations or on their behalf”.

Friends of the Earth International recorded more than 100 incidents of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights in 27 countries around the world in the period November 2011 – October 2013. More than half of the killings recorded were targeted assassinations of peasant leaders and deaths of peasants during violent confrontations regarding land disputes, often involving the protection of peasant territories from polluting development projects such as hydroelectric dams, monoculture plantations or the extraction of oil, gas and minerals.

The new report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations. [On may 7, 2014, a global alliance of civil society organizations known as the Treaty Alliance representing more than 500 groups called on UN Human Rights Council members to support an initiative in June that would begin a process towards creating an international legally binding treaty to address corporate human rights violations. For more information read: –  A regulatory and enforcement framework that is legally binding for corporations has been proposed at the Council by a group of 84 nations since September 2013]

The following environmental defenders will be in Geneva on June 23-27:

1) Micaela Antonio Gonzalez from Guatemala and Victor Barro from Friends of the Earth Spain will expose the human rights violations by the Spanish company Hidralia in Guatemala.

2) Abeer Al Butmah from Friends of the Earth Palestine will expose the human rights violations by Israeli water company Mekorot in Palestine.

3) Godwin Ojo from Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe will expose the human rights violations by Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta.

4) Alberto Villarreal will expose the violations of the human right to health posed by the Philip Morris International challenge to the tobacco control legislation in Uruguay.

Friends of the Earth International is critical of ‘voluntary mechanisms’ such as the Global Compact and Ruggie’s UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and believes they have not reduced attacks on human rights defenders and are thus insufficient to protect human rights.

The report ‘We defend the environment, we defend human rights‘ is available at

For some of my earlier posts on environmental issues and human rights defenders see:

Honduran Colonel attacks again, this time: US Human Rights Defender Annie Bird

January 5, 2014

Dan Beeton of the Center for Economic and Policy Research reported on 3 January 2014 that Colonel German Alfaro, the commander of Operation Xatruch III in Honduras’ Aguan Valley, personally denounced Annie Bird, co-director of the U.S. and Canada-based human rights NGO Rights Action, on TV and radio, alleging among other things that she is engaging in “destabilization work” in the Aguan. The accusations came just after Bird accompanied campesinos in the Aguan to the Attorney General’s office to file human rights complaints, including some against Honduran soldiers. Alfaro also said he was opening an investigation into Bird’s activities. In response, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and another 33 human rights, labor and religious organizations called on the US State Department to denounce Alfaro’s comments. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexican Rocío Mesino, an emblematic human rights defender, murdered like so many others

October 26, 2013

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On Saturday, the 19th of  October  2013 , around 1:00 pm, Rocío Mesino Mesino, leader of the Peasant Organization of the Southern Sierra (OCSS ), was killed in the town of Mexcaltepec, municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, in the state of Guerrero, Mexcio. Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia: Human Rights Defender Adelinda Gómez Gaviria killed and David Ravelo Crespo remains in jail

October 5, 2013

14 September 2013 marked three years since renowned human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo, member of the director’s board of the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS) based in the city of Barrancabermeja, was detained.  Over NGOs reiterated on that occasion their concerns regarding a series of irregularities that were reported throughout the proceedings which resulted in his conviction and sentencing to 220 months in prison. Reiterating their respect for the independence of the judiciary in Colombia, the NGO statement lists a series of irregularities (see statement in full). The NGOs stress that David Ravelo Crespo is an internationally renowned human rights defender. He has won several awards such as the San Pedro Claver Award from the Diocese of Barrancabermeja in 2009; was one of the finalists for the 2013 Front Line Defenders Award fand has been nominated for the National Human Rights Defenders Awards in Colombia . His NGO was nominated for the 2013 Human Rights Award for the city of Weimar (Germany).

Two weeks later Front Line reports that human rights defender and campesina leader Adelinda Gómez Gaviria was killed in Almaguer, Cauca region. Adelinda Gómez Gaviria worked with the Comité de Integración del Macizo Colombiano – CIMA. She played an active role in the  Mining and Environmental Forum in Almaguer, which has 1,500 indigenous and farming members. On 30 September as Adelinda Gómez Gaviria was returning home after a meeting, she and her 16 year-old son were approached and shot at by two unidentified men. Adelinda Gómez Gaviria suffered five bullet wounds and was killed, whilst her son is in a critical state in the Clínica La Estancia in Popayán city. One month prior to her killing Adelinda Gómez Gaviria had received a threatening telephone call from strangers who warned her to: “Stop messing around with this miners’ thing. It’s risky and it’ll get you killed.” The Red por la Vida y los Derechos Humanos del Cauca (Cauca Network for Life and Human Rights) has registered the murders of fourteen women human rights defenders in Cauca so far this year, primarily from rural areas of Cauca. Twelve death threats against human rights defenders have been reported, with five of those against women.

Colombia: On the third anniversary of the detention of renowned Colombian human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo, International organisations express concern / September 13, 2013 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Another Guatemalan Human Rights Defender murdered – 3 others released by kidnappers

March 27, 2013

On 18 March 2013, the body of human rights defender and indigenous peoples’ leader Encarnación Marcos Ucelo was found, following his kidnapping by heavily armed men the day before. His body reportedly showed signs of strangulation and his hands were tied. Fellow indigenous leaders Messrs Rigoberto Aguilar, Rodolfo López and Roberto González were also kidnapped by the armed men, but all three were released on 17 and 18 March 2013.

Encarnación Marcos Ucelo was a member of the Xinca indigenous people in Santa Maria Xalapán, situated in the department of Jalapa in Eastern Guatemala. He had worked as secretary of the Indigenous Parliament of Santa Maria Xalapán for almost two years and was also involved in a commission established in 2012 to investigate the historical land rights of indigenous peoples and campesino communities in Guatemala. Rigoberto Aguilar, Rodolfo López and Roberto González are all members are of the same indigenous community, while Roberto González is also Mayor of Santa Maria Xalapán and President of the Parliament.

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped condemns the killing of Encarnación Marcos Ucelo, and expresses serious concern for the security and physical and psychological integrity of Rigoberto Aguilar, Rodolfo López and Roberto González and urges the authorities in Guatemala to initiate an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation and take all necessary measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity all other indigenous peoples’ rights defenders of the Santa Maria Xalapán community.