Posts Tagged ‘land disputes’

Side event on environmental rights defenders on 3 December in Geneva with live webcast

November 30, 2013

Human rights defenders play a critical role in exposing and ensuring accountability for business-related human rights violations. Despite this, around the world, there is an increase in attacks, judicial harassment, restrictions, surveillance, intimidation and reprisals against defenders who work on land and environment issues associated with business activities. A side event on 3 December in Geneva (Palais des Nations Room XX  from 13h00 to 15h00) will pay special attention to challenges engendered by the increasing criminalisation or repression of those peacefully denouncing adverse human rights impacts of corporate projects, discussing the role of both States and companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Situation of human rights defenders in Africa – overview by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

November 6, 2013

The OMCT and the FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, made an intervention under agenda item 9: “Situation of human rights defenders” at the at the 54th session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights [ACHPR] on 5 November.logo FIDH_seulOMCT-LOGO

Human rights defenders were attacked, received threats or were slandered in the DRCSenegal and Tunisia. In some cases they were even killed, as in the DRC and in Cameroonin a climate of impunity. Defenders, and in particular defenders of economic, social and cultural rights, also continued to be subjected to arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment in AngolaCameroon, the DRCEgyptMauritania and Tunisia. Obstacles to freedom of association were also recorded, as for instance in AngolaEgypt and Rwanda. A summary is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Burma’s land and environmental issues keeps human rights defenders under stress

August 19, 2013

Land and environmental issues keep putting pressure on human rights defenders in Burma as reported by Front Line:

On 2 August 2013, human rights defender Mr Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested on charges of insulting the state after participating in a peaceful protest against illegal land seizures on 30 July 2013. Three other peaceful protesters, themselves victims of illegal land seizures, were arrested alongside him. Ko Htin Kyaw is the director of the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), a community-based organisation working to promote development and democracy in Burma.  They were not given any opportunity to contact a lawyer and were refused bail. If Ko Htin Kyaw is found guilty, he may be sentenced to up to 3 years imprisonment. The charges relate to a peaceful protest held on 30 July 2013 to peacefully express frustration at the government which had not forced the man in question to return the land, despite an acknowledgement from the authorities of the land seizure’s illegality and the existence of considerable evidence to support the claim.

On 20 June 2013, human rights defenders Messrs Moe Thway, Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin published a statement regarding the arrest warrants issued against them on 13 June 2013 . These arrest warrants are reportedly linked to comments the human rights defenders had made about the Letpadaung copper mine project, a joint venture between the Burmese military’s Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) and Wan Bao Company, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.

Moe Thway is a member of Generation Wave Youth Force, a network of human rights defenders that campaigns for civil and political rights, including by putting pressure on the Burmese government to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They have also been campaigning against the Letpadaung mine and have brought the campaign to national attention. Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin are part of the Yangon People Service Network which campaigns for the respect of rule of law and democracy in Burma. The campaign against the Letpadaung project is also part of their work.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

Campaigning helps: Cambodian HRD Mam Sonando speaks out after his liberation

April 19, 2013

 

(Cambodian human rights defender and journalist Mam Sonando a prisoner of conscience © TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

On 12 April 2013 Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam posted on Amnesty‘s Livewire an interesting account of his meeting with the just liberated Cambodian Human Rights Defender Mam Sonando. It is a impressive testimony to the resilience of human rights defenders and how campaigning can help them and therefore I reproduce it below:

It was hot – very hot – as I arrived last week at Mam Sonando’s home and radio station on a dusty street in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. He welcomed me at the front door. “Thank you,” he said. With a broad smile, he flashed his signature ‘V for victory’ sign with his right hand. After over eight months in prison, he was free and no longer facing 20 years behind bars. 

Mam Sonando, 72, is a well-known and popular journalist. He owns Beehive Radio, one of Cambodia’s few independent radio stations. And he heads the Association of Democrats, which promotes human rights and democracy and helps poor communities. On 11 September 2012, his trial began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. He had been arrested two months earlier after Cambodia’s Prime Minister accused him publicly of being behind a plot for a village in eastern Cambodia to secede – to break away from the country. In fact, the villagers there had been involved in a long-running land conflict with a powerful company, and the so-called secession plot was used as a pretext to forcibly evict them. Read the rest of this entry »

This also happened in Venezuela: Sabino Romero Izarra did not die but was murdered

March 6, 2013

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro (right) and National assembly president Diosdado Cabello (left), on December 8, 2012. © 2012 Reuters
While all attention understandably is on the death of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chaves, indigenous rights defender Mr Sabino Romero Izarra was shot and killed while travelling on a road in the Sierra de Perijá, Zulia State on 3 March 2013. His wife survived but sustained injuries as a result of the attack. Sabino Romero Izarra was a prominent defender of the rights of the indigenous Yukpa community, including peacefully campaigning and mobilising against the expansion of large-scale mining developments on indigenous lands. Prior to his killing the human rights defender was continuously subject to acts of harassment, threats and criminalisation, as a result of his work to promote and protect land and indigenous rights in Venezuela.

As a result of his work, Sabino Romero Izarra was continuously threatened, harassed and judicially persecuted. In 2012, the 109 year-old father of Sabino Romero Izarra, Mr José Manuel Romero, was killed as a result of being severely beaten. To date, no-one has been brought to justice for this killing, believed to have been perpetrated by the owner of a local ranch. In 2009, following the occupation of a ranch in Chaktapa, Zulia State, by two communities, including that of Sabino Romero Izarra, the human rights defender was detained for 18 months, accused of being responsible for the killing of three indigenous persons during the occupation. On 14 October 2009, during a national radio programme, Deputy Minister for the Environment Sergio Rodriguez reportedly accused Sabino Romero Izarra of stealing cattle, burning the houses of Yukpa families and using the land title struggle “for his own benefit”. In addition, the human rights defender received a number of death threats, while his home was reportedly raided on a number of occasions by army officers. Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedFront Line (http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/) believes to be motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work as a land and indigenous rights defender and leader.

In the meantime New York based  Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 5 March issued a general report on “Venezuela: Chávez’s Authoritarian LegacyRead the rest of this entry »

Attacks and death threats to the Pastoral Land Commission in Brazil

February 20, 2013

The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), which has for years campaigned to advance social justice and the rights of small farmers and the landless in Brazil, suffered three attacks on its headquarters in the state of Acre in this year alone. It is suspected that these attacks are reprisal attacks on CPT, which recently denounced irregularities in forest management and land ownership in the states of Acre and Amazonas. The CPT was awarded the Right Livelihood Award Foundation (http://www.rightlivelihood.org/),  in 1991. Read the rest of this entry »

Cambodia’s land dispute takes centre stage in future documentary “Cause of Progress”

January 2, 2013

The Cause of Progress” tells the story of the lives of three Cambodians caught up in the country’s chaotic and often violent economic progress, set against the backdrop of the shifting political, religious and familial landscapes of modern-day Cambodia. Shot over the course of three years, the film is a unique and intimate portrait of modern Cambodia. At times poignant and emotional, at others violent and chaotic, the film explores the impact of progress on modern society – from the corruption of the national religion, to the disintegration of the family, to the abusive power and kleptocracy of the ruling political elite.

What is happening in Cambodia is happening all over the developing world, from South America to Africa to Eastern Europe – land is being colonised by the developed world and the local elites, while the rightful owners are being displaced. This film addresses one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Each of the three personal narratives focuses on a different aspect of the story but forced evictions and land grabbing recur across all three. The Venerable Loun Sovath is a Human Rights Defender who uses video as part of his activist campaigning, all the while fighting against the corruption within his religious order. He is the 2012 Laureate of the MEA. Sopheap, facing eviction and waiting for a new home, is struggling to start a new business while she tries to cope with her slowly disintegrating family. And Srey Pov – at the front lines of a high profile forced eviction – comes face to face with a corrupt political elite and the sometimes difficult relationship between global institutions and the developing world.

This film will offer a unique insight into a country at a pivotal time in its development, finally shaking off the legacy of the past and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia’s future direction is uncertain.

Those who want to keep up to date on future developments of this project should sign up to the film’s blog, join its facebook group, and mailing list and follow on twitter @chriskellyfilm

Luon Sovath by Dovona

Luon Sovath by Dovona

Filmmaker Chris Kelly filming at Boeung Kak lake. Image © Nicolas Axelrod 2010.