Posts Tagged ‘Environmental issue’

Nyan Kyal Sayn brings his animator talent to the human rights of women in Myanmar

November 14, 2016

Animation in Myanmar goes back to about 1920, earlier than in any other Southeast Asian country. The art form did not prosper under the military regime, but it’s on its way back. One of its most popular exponents has been the well-known cartoonist Aw Pi Kyal. Now his son, Naing Kaung Nyan, 22 – known in the trade as Nyan Kyal Say – has produced a prize-winning work of his own. “My Life I Don’t Want” has won 15 international awards from Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Romania, Barcelona, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States. Based on actual events, it’s about a young Myanmar woman, and promotes awareness of the rights of women and children.

I describe the difficulties she faces, in terms of poverty, poor education, insecurity, sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy and human trafficking that afflict so many young women,” said Nyal Kyal Say, who works in medicine as a house surgeon when he’s not creating animations. “I hope to draw attention to women’s rights, get support from foreign organisations and penetrate the Myanmar animation market.

The 12-minute short, produced in May, took eight months to make, including story development, production, financial support, and sound. It was first screened at the 2016 Human Rights Film Festival and went on to compete internationally. At the prestigious Amsterdam Animation Festival 2016 “My Life I Don’t Want” won Best Animated Short in the Emerging Animation Nation category last month, its 12th international award.

“Two of my animations are about human rights, but the environment is also important. If we don’t maintain the environment, there will be no humans to claim their rights. Then there’s health. I graduated from the University of Medicine and I want to create health edutainment animations that deal entertainingly with questions of health. Most residents of rural areas lack health knowledge and can’t find out because of the language barrier,” he said. “To help them overcome all these problems, I want to produce animations that are easy for everyone to understand.”

For my other posts on animation https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/animation/

Source: Award-winning animator joins the fight for women’s rights

Contrasting views of human rights in business: World Bank and IT companies

November 19, 2015

Here two contrasting statements on the theme of business and human rights. One describes the hesitation of the World Bank to apply human rights criteria and even use the word human rights (posted in the Huffington post of 18 November 2015 by Nezir Sinani [www.twitter.com/NezirSinani] and Julia Radomski, and the other is a piece written by Owen Larter and Nicolas Patrick entitled “Microsoft & DLA Piper – Why Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders are Right for our Business” [published in the ISHR Monitor on 27 October 2015]. Read the rest of this entry »

Defender Profile of Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK

November 16, 2015

On 28 October 2015, the Monitor of the International Service for Human Rights carried an interview with human rights defender Will McCallum who is a ‘Campaigner’ at Greenpeace in the United Kingdom.

I would say that it is the tactics we use are what provoke a backlash from the Government as much as the issues we work on. In the UK if you make full use of the freedom of information system or judicial reviews, then you are probably going to have speak out publicly about the failures of government policies. This is what puts you in the firing line’.

And as Greenpeace and other environmental groups have highlighted the risks to environmental rights implied by UK energy and climate policies, they have found themselves targets of derogatory statements from both authorities and the media, questioning the motives of their work. The previous Environment Secretary labelled them ‘self-serving’,highly paid globe-trotters’ ‘focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely’.

Yet Will says that this is actually emblematic of a broader governmental intolerance of civil society advocacy. ‘There is a general background noise from the government which is anti-NGO; there’s a sense of disrespect and there’s been a marked difference since 2012. It’s as if the government see questioning by civil society as a pain which ought to be kept in check. But dissent has its rightful place in a democracy and, in fact, we can help ensure the government makes policies which respect rights and protect the environment. There is a sense that in the UK the government would like to see the role of NGOs as one of simply service providers’.

This attitude has manifested itself not only in the governmental discourse, but also in legislation limiting NGO activities. Will points to the 2014 Lobbying Act, which put strong financial and administrative limitations on the advocacy work NGOs could do around election periods. A recent letter by 150 NGOs called for the law’s repeal, following a recent independent inquiry into its impact.‘At least as concerning for us, however, is the current review of the Freedom of Information Act. Over 140 organisations spoke out last month in concern at apparent attempts to weaken the Act. The government has mandated a Commission to carry out the review, but almost all of its members are politicians and all have a track record of questioning the Act. Where’s the balance? Where’s the view of those of us who rely upon the Act to hold the government accountable?’

Will is concerned at suggestions that the Commission will recommend the implementation of fees for tribunal appeals against freedom of information decisions, currently free. ‘At Greenpeace we have a certain amount of resources we could invest in such appeals. But what’s the impact for smaller organisations and grass-roots human rights defenders? They rely on this Act to demand better from the State’. A lack of transparency and of proper consultation are two obstacles which make it difficult for organisations and communities to question the environmental impact of business projects, says Will. ‘On the one hand, there is a failure by the government to be transparent regarding who they are being lobbied by and how; there is no effective lobbying register. Yet on the other hand there is a reluctance on the part of the State to listen to those communities and activists who are asking for an environmental perspective to be taken into account. The government wants to expedite business projects at all costs, as shown by a recent change to planning guidance which will allow central government to circumvent local authorities in the approval of fracking projects if the latter has taken more than 16 weeks to evaluate a project proposal’.

In an echo of a disturbing global trend, another fear amongst environmental rights organisations in the UK, is the possible use of counter-terror and surveillance legislation to limit their activism… ‘The government has said that the Extremism Bill is to tackle what falls below the legal threshold for terrorist proscription. There needs to be a clear articulation of what this means to ensure the law cannot be abused. Meanwhile, the Policing and Criminal Justice Bill provides for 90-day pre-trail detention. Any law which gives authorities who are relatively intolerant to dissent the power to lock people up before they’ve been judged must be subject to proper consultation of local civil society and international human rights experts before it is passed’. It will also fall upon this government to make guarantees of no-repetition in the cases of police spying and surveillance of environmental groups which have led to a public inquiry into undercover policing…

Source: Defender Profile: Will McCallum, United Kingdom | ISHR

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: www.foei.org/news/groups-call-for-un-treaty-to-tackle-corporate-human-rights-violations/ –  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 www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/human-rights-defenders-publications/we-defend-the-environment-we-defend-human-rights/

For some of my earlier posts on environmental issues and human rights defenders see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-issues/

AI and Jody Williams on today’s elections in Honduras: Will Human Rights Defenders fare any better?

November 24, 2013

Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, human rights defender from the Honduran NGO COPINH.

(Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, human rights defender from the Honduran NGO COPINH. © COPINH)

There’s hardly a moment when Honduran human rights defender Bertha Cáceres is not worrying about what may happen to her for defending the rights of her community, the Lenca Indigenous People. The risk is so high that she’s been forced into hiding. “They want to terrorize us,” she told Amnesty International.  “I cannot live my life like before. I cannot go to the office, take part in our campaign, or leave the country to denounce our situation in international forums. I can’t even go swimming in the Río Blanco, which is very important to me because it is sacred to our people,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Special Rapporteur’s next report focuses on HRDs and large-scale development projects: you can contribute!

June 14, 2013

The next thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, to the General Assembly in October 2013 will focus on the links between large-scale development projects and a safe and enabling

environment for human rights defenders, with a particular emphasis on the challenges of the human rights-based approach to development and the role of human rights defenders. This is indeed – as also shown in this blog – a growing area of concern with many HRDs working on e.g. land grabbing, forced evictions, environmental issues or the protection of indigenous minorities under constant threats and many having been killed .

To this end, the Special Rapporteur is requesting Member States, national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and regional human rights mechanisms to answer a questionnaire. If you would like to contribute to this exercise, kindly complete the questionnaire and send it to defenders@ohchr.org. Deadline: 24 June 2013!. Should you have any question, please send an e-mail to the same address.  Questionnaire to be found via Questionnaire on large-scale development.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.