September 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the September 27, 2015 edition of this Peace/Justice action email!

This brief newsletter revisits the world of human slavery and slavery-like conditions, focused on those trying to uncover this repugnant largely hidden world.  The first action is URGENT, given that the court case is in mid-October.  The second action involves the head of Mauritania’s most prominent anti-slavery group, who has been detained for almost a year.  In addition there is a thank-you to those opposing the Shell Arctic drilling – they have ceased explorations for now.  The next newsletter will hopefully have some basic guidelines regarding the Syrian refugee crisis.

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Pour la traduction française: cliqueter ici; et cliqueter alors le bouton de traduction sur la page Web.
Para la traducción española: clic aquí; y entonces hace clic en el botón de traducción en la página web.

 

 

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URGENT: DROP CHARGES AGAINST THAI INDUSTRY RESEARCHER

Human rights activist Andy Hall will soon find out if he faces time in prison for reporting on labour rights abuses in the Thai pineapple industry. In 2013 a report entitled Cheap Has a High Price was published by the NGO Finnwatch, which included some of his research.  It contained allegations of worker abuse and slavery-like practices in the Natural Fruit factory, a Thai company that processes pineapples and supplies retailers around the world.

Instead of looking into the allegations, Natural Fruit targeted Andy. He was hauled into court on charges of computer crime and criminal defamation.  Despite an international outcry, Natural Fruit have not backed down.  Thus WalkFree is calling on the Thai government to ensure that all charges against Andy Hall are dropped.

The Thai authorities are already facing global scrutiny for not doing enough to protect workers from abuse — the latest US Trafficking in Persons report gives Thailand the lowest score for action to tackle trafficking.

Take Action:
http://www.walkfree.org/drop-the-charges-against-andy-hall-now/

Background:
Charged in Thailand [The Guardian]
Joint Letter to Thailand Prime Minister [Human Righs Watch]

 

 

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FREE MAURITANIA’S ANTI-SLAVERY ACTIVISTS

Biram Dah Abeid is a leading anti-slavery activist in Mauritania, the country with the highest prevalence of slavery in the world1. The organization he founded, the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, has fought for the freedom of countless men, women and children.

Mauritania fully outlawed slavery in 2007 but has systematically failed to end it in practice. It has fallen to activists like Biram to fight for people’s’ freedom and they face regular harassment and harsh treatment in their campaigning.

Take Action:
http://www.walkfree.org/mauritania/

Background:
Mauritanian Sentenced to Prison [Slate]

 

 

 

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=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
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Shell Stops Its Arctic Drilling

Thanks to all who took action this spring calling on Shell to not drill in the Arctic.  Shell just announced that it will cease exploratory drilling “for the foreseeable future” due to surprisingly marginal discoveries and indirectly to what they saw as the surprising public pressure.
Shell Abandons Alaska  Arctic Drilling [Guardian]

 

 

 

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=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
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Detecting (and Eventually Preventing) Mass Killings and Genocide

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has unveiled an online tool to forecast which countries have the highest risk of state-led mass killings.  The aim of the project is to help prevent civilian mass atrocities by providing earlier and more accurate warning.  Much has been learned from past genocides in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Holocaust in terms of the clear early warning signs that precede mass violence.

The tool takes into consideration factors including political instability and potential threats to a regime’s hold on power that might lead to a response in the form of a mass killing. Live expert feedback is also part of the project, which defines mass killings as killings of more than 1,000 civilians.

Topping the list of countries currently at risk are: Myanmar, followed by Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
New Tool To Assess Risk of Mass Killings [Al Jazeera]

March 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the March 31, 2015 edition of this Peace/Justice action email!

Due to other pressing projects, this again will be a minimal newsletter edition.  There are three actions.  The first involves a US notion of feasible, reduced support for nuclear weapons. The second action pertains to Michigan and discrimination, while the third action involves the potential for Arctic drilling.

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Pour la traduction française: cliqueter ici; et cliqueter alors le bouton de traduction sur la page Web.
Para la traducción española: clic aquí; y entonces hace clic en el botón de traducción en la página web.

 

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US: SUPPORT ‘SANE’ SPENDING ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The amount of money spent on nuclear weapons is always a contentious issue.  For U.S. citizens, the following petition will allow you to consider whether the current priorities form a good balance.

Citizens for Global Solutions support the “Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act” [H.R.1534; S.831], suggesting that the current nuclear spending and priorities do not align with today’s security needs.  They believe that cuts in nuclear programs will not jeopardize security but rather will increase security if it is accompanied by a more relevant focus on contemporary threats.  Read more details in the link below.

US-only: Tell Your Representatives to Co-Sponsor the SANE Act:
http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5550/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19838

 

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US AND “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM LEGISLATION”

The state of Indiana is getting so much negative reaction regarding discrimination after its “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was recently passed that it may be self-correcting, a topic for another day.  However, right now in Michigan, there are no laws preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and Michigan may try to implement a similar version of the Indiana law which could, worst case, entrench such discrimination.

As a specific example, a pediatrician in Michigan discriminated against a six-day-old baby because the baby’s parents are lesbian.  The couple came to the doctor’s office, but the doctor had “prayed on it,” and decided she could not care for their baby.

The following petition can be used to send a signal to Michigan lawmakers about how such a law would be perceived.  It might have been useful for the Indiana lawmakers to have fully understood the outside-state consequences (which include the freedom of people and companies to move or avoid an area) before the voted.  Democracy works best from a well-informed standpoint.

Take Action (open to all):
Tell Michigan Legislators Not To Discriminate

Background:
Indiana’s Law Puts Obstacles to Equality [The Atlantic]

 

 

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DARFUR: EMPTY ELECTIONS, EMPTY VILLAGES (OR WORSE)

Sudan will go to the polls in mid-April.  It is a foregone conclusion that President Bashir will be re-elected.  This means that the horrid conditions in Darfur, as well as the deplorable state of South Kordofan and the Nuba mountains will remain.

Up to six million people are at humanitarian risk in Darfur.  As mentioned last month the levels of death and displacement approach the most gruesome levels of the 2003-2006 outbreak of violence.  Villages remain empty or even worse, are being filled by outside Arabs.  One contact recently returned from Darfur has indicated that some of these outsiders have extremist tendencies.

There is no action at the moment for Darfur.  However a new set of strategies, relying partly on Sudan’s feverish mining of gold, is being developed, as noted in the link below.

Background:
Latest Potential Pressure Points for Sudan

 

 

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SHELL MOVING OIL RIG TO ARCTIC

Greenpeace is following the movement of a Shell oil rig as it makes it way to the Arctic.  This newsletter has previously explored the potential negative impacts of drilling for oil in the Arctic and has advocated for making the Arctic a sanctuary.  The following link can be used join the movement to save the Arctic and/or to track the progress of the oil rig and Greenpeace ship.

Take Action / See Progress
https://www.savethearctic.org/en/live/info-box/

 

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=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
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Canada Ratifies the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Good news: Canada became the 91st State Party (and 19th NATO member) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on March 16, 2015.  Its stockpiles were completely destroyed as of June 2014.
http://stopclustermunitions.org/en-gb/media/news/2015/canada-is-the-newest-state-party.aspx

 

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=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
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Do you need a new cell phone?

There are continual voices that lure us to buy the ‘next’, the biggest or the best. Green America has produced a simple one-page flowchart to remind us that buying a new phone is not simply a financial decision.  It has environmental implications from e-waste to the cost of producing yet more rare and precious minerals and other components.  Our newsletter has already highlighted that some of those costs also sometimes include the fueling of conflict and the maintenance of sweatshop labour.

http://www.greenamerica.org/PDF/2014gam98apr-may-fix-it-flow.pdf