messages of solidarity
Oct 16, 2012
World Food Day -- a day to remember that nearly a billion people in the world are hungry despite the fact that there is enough food to go around. Food has been turned into a mere commodity to be exported, traded and speculated upon, rather than a basic human right.
At this very moment
we are supporting communities in Uganda
and Argentina who are struggling to stop companies from
taking their lands in order to reap heavy profits instead of healthy
harvests. Fertile farmland and lush forests are being converted into
soy and palm oil monoculture plantations. Crops are being grown and
flown across the globe to feed cars and animals, rather than to feed
Also on World Food Day, Friends of
the Earth International released our latest Food Sovereignty Report.
This year we take aim at the industry-supported myth of “sustainable
intensification,” another name for the
environmentally destructive corporate concentration of food
Oct 11, 2012
Plaintiffs from devastated communities in Nigeria tell their stories in their own words.
For the first time in history, a European company, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shall, has been brought to court in The Netherlands for damages it caused abroad. The plaintiffs are four Nigerians whose livelihoods and communities have been massively impacted by Shell's operations.
Plaintiff Alali Efanga takes Shell to court for pollution in Nigeria
The court case against Shell's oil spills in the Niger delta has been filed by the four Nigerian plaintiffs in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and supported by Friends of the Earth Nigeria.
Plaintiff Chief Erich Dooh
The plaintiffs are demanding that Shell cleans up oil pollution in their villages and compensates them for damages they incurred. In this interview, Alali Efanga from the village of Oruma describes how he and his community have been affected by the oil spills.
Lawyers for both parties pleaded at a key hearing in The Hague on October 11, with a verdict expected on January 30, 2013.
Oct 09, 2012
Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest environmental federation, firmly condemns the violent and repressive actions of the government of Guatemala against the Totonicapán Mayan K`iche people.
On 4 October 2012, these actions resulted in a massacare that caused the death of eigth indigenous people and dozens of injuries during a peaceful demonstration organised by 48 Cantones de Totonicapán, the ancient Maya people's organisation.
We are deeply concerned about Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina's repressive security policy. President Otto Perez Molina is a retired Army General and a graduate of Escuela de las Américas, who condones the militarization of indigenous territories and insists on constitutional reform to guarantee the involvement of the army in public safety.
we condemn the strategy of repressing and criminalising social
protests in Guatemala. The massacre in Totonicapán
follows a crackdown in Santa Cruz Barillas' – where a community
leader was killed and ten people were detained on political grounds –
in early May this year and the subsequent state of emergency in the
This “security” policy goes hand-in-hand with unsustainable large scale development projects, involving indigenous territories without the consent of the people affected. This issue was also one of the demands of the thousands of indigenous people who joined the demonstration on 4 October.
We sympathise with the families of the victims and join the call of our sister organisations to speak out against the violations of indigenous peoples' human rights in Guatemala. We call on the international community to stay vigilant and to express solidarity with the people of Guatemala.
We demand that the government of Guatemala will acknowledge its responsibility, and reconsider its policies to ensure respect to the freedom of expression, security, life, freedom of thought, and human rights of the Mayan communities.
Friends of the Earth International
Please use this declaration of solidarity as a model to express your concerns to the Guatemalan authorities:
Presidente de la República de Guatemala Sr. Otto Pérez Molina
Secretaria Privada de la Presidencia
6ta Avenida 4-46 de la Zona 1, Guatemala, Guatemala.
Teléfono: (502) 2230-1650.
Secretaria de Comunicación Social de la Presidencia
Palacio Nacional Guatemala, Guatemala 01001 Guatemala
Tel: (502) 2251-4016 / (502) 2339-2502.
Fiscal General del Ministerio Publico Dra. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey.
Dirección: 15 Av. 15-16 Zona 1, 2º. Nivel, Ciudad de Guatemala.
Teléfonos: (502) 2411-9262 / (502) 2411-9174
Ministerio de Gobernación
Mauricio López Bonilla, ministro de Gobernación.
Dirección: 6ª. Av. 13-71 zona 1 Guatemala.
Teléfono: (502) 2413-8888.
Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos PDH
Jorge De León Duque, Procurador.
Dirección: 12 ave. 12-72 Zona 1, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala.
Teléfono: 24241717, Call Center: 1555
Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas para Guatemala
Alberto Brunori, representante de la OACNUDH
Dirección: 5a Av. 5-55 Zona 14 Edif Europlaza, Torre III, Nivel 14, Ciudad de Guatemala, 01014, PBX: (502)
2382-3400, Fax: (502) 2382-3410
Sep 27, 2012
RWR: Unsettling - Interview with Ayman Rabi about the Friends of the Earth International Mission to Palestine
For two days Bobby Peek of Friends of the Earth South Africa and Eurig Scandrett of Friends of the Earth Scotland, spoke with people from local communities of the West Bank and witnessed the environmental damage caused by Israeli industrial, commercial and settlement activity. Real World Radio interviewed Pengon campaigner Ayman Rabi about the FoEI mission in Palestine.
Two representatives of Friends of the Earth International, an environmental federation with groups in almost 80 countries, traveled to Palestine on the invitation of PENGON-Friends of the Earth Palestine to see the environmental consequences of the Israeli occupation.
Ayman explained that the FoEI mission aimed to “eye witness on the current environmental violations caused mainly by the Israeli occupation to Palestinian territory”. It was also aimed to “show them the current discriminatory practices against Palestinian farmers”.
The mission visited different communities in the West Bank that suffer from water scarcity and from settler violations. Ayman said those communities suffer “pollution problems created by the waste water disposal of (Israeli) settlements existing in that area (...) and also restrictions imposed on Palestinian farmers from using the land caused by the separation wall created” by the Israeli government.
The construction of the wall began in 2002 under the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in order to “avoid the infiltration of Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel”. The International Court of Justice of The Hague (The Netherlands) declared the wall illegal in 2004, since it cuts across Palestinian lands in the West Bank. The United Nations also condemned its construction. As a result of the building of the wall, nearly 500,000 Palestinians are separared from their lands and work places.
After the mission, PENGON aims to disseminate the conclusions as wide as possible in order to do advocacy work and to have an impartial view of the situation in Palestine.
Sep 20, 2012
New report highlights dangers of unconventional fuel to environment and health
Brussels, September 20 – Europe risks side-lining its vision for
a more sustainable, low-carbon energy future, according to a new
report from Friends of the Earth Europe , unless it
permanently closes its doors to unconventional and unwanted
fossil fuels like shale gas .
In the week of two European parliamentary votes on shale gas , the report, ‘Unconventional and unwanted’ says that shale gas could lock Europe into continued dependency on fossil fuels, at the expense of renewable energy, energy savings and significant reductions in climate-changing emissions.
Increasing evidence shows ‘fracking’, the process used to extract shale gas, is an unambiguously high-risk activity that threatens human health and the wider environment. The high risk of water contamination, and air pollution with hazardous chemicals, are both recognised in a recent European Commission study .
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Fossil fuels like shale gas are unconventional and unwanted – they threaten the health of local communities, and the environment. They also threaten to lock Europe into fossil fuel dependency, side-lining renewable energy developments, energy savings and Europe’s commitment to a low-carbon future."
The environmental impacts of shale gas and other unconventional fuels (such as coal bed methane) are being underplayed in the debate on Europe’s energy future , and rely upon unproven technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and gaps in current European legislation to make them attractive to investors and decision makers, the report finds.
Local opposition to the threat of shale gas continues across Europe, with a global day of action against fracking this Saturday (September 22) . Bans on fracking are already in place in France and Bulgaria, and there are moratoria in regions of Germany and Czech Republic, and in the Netherlands.
Antoine Simon continued: “Concerned communities and organisations across Europe are taking action against shale gas development. People see what’s happening in the US and don’t want to see the same dangerous experiment on health and the environment conducted in Europe.”
Friends of the Earth Europe is campaigning for European member states to suspend on-going activities, retract permits, and place bans on any new projects, whether exploration or exploitation. Europe must embrace a low-carbon energy model, based on renewable energy and improved energy savings – the only genuine path towards an environmentally sustainable and healthy future.
‘Unconventional and unwanted: the case against shale gas’ is available to download here:
For more information please contact:
Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe,
Tel: +32 (0) 2 893 10 18, Mob: +32 (0) 486 685 664, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of the Earth Europe, (EN)
Tel: +32 (0) 2893 1012, Mob: +32 (0) 470 072 049, email@example.com
 Shale gas is a form of unconventional gas found in shale reservoirs. To extract the gas a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking', is required. Fracking involves the injection of millions of litres of water, sand and chemicals – known as 'fracking fluid' – into the shale reservoir, at high pressure, to fracture the rock and release the gas.
 Two European Parliament committees – working on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Environment (ENVI) – voted this week on their respective reports on the impacts of shale gas development in Europe. The outcomes of the votes are ambiguous: on the one hand recognising the serious risks shale gas poses to health and the environment while still promoting it as “necessary fuel for our energy security”.
Friends of the Earth Europe’s reaction to the vote on the ITRE Report, September 18th:
 The DG Environment risk assessment of shale gas operations can be found here:http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/energy/pdf/fracking%20study.pdf
 A short video from the European Greens, in collaboration with Fiends of the Earth Europe, explaining the environmental and health impacts of shale gas: http://bit.ly/ban_fracking
 Friends of the Earth groups in France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will organise events this Saturday, September 22nd, as part of Global Frackdown day. For more information: http://www.globalfrackdown.org/
Sep 19, 2012
Jmaktik buch’utik sk’anik spojik jkuxlejaltik (Defend life)
by Jose Manuel Martín Pérez (translated from Tzotzil - original below)
What does the forest mean for a local community?
safe space for animals
the forest means life
And what happens with a plantation?
The water runs out
there is no food
nor safe spaces
there is no life
What is there to do?
Stop the plantations!
Jmaktik buch’utik sk’anik spojik jkuxlejaltik
¿K’uyun lek k’alal oy a’mal te ta jlumatik?
Mi oy a’mal, oy ve’lil
Xu’ jva’antik jnatik xchi’uk k’usi oy ku’untik te ta a’mal
Oy svayeb chon-bolometik
Oy epal mutetik
Oy bu’ lek nichim ko’ontontik jkotoltik
Me oy a’mal oy jkuxlekatik
¿Mi ech xa na’ k’alal sts’unik yansba ko’ol te’tik?
Mo’o, mauk ech sjam. Chlaj o’
Chlaj te ve’lile
Ch’ay batel svayeb chon-bolometik
Chlaj snichimal ko’ontontik
Solel chlaj jkuxlejaltik
¿K’usi xu’ chapas o’ote yu’un mu chlaj skotol?
MAKO BUCH’U SK’AN STS’UN YANSBA KO’OL TE’TIK.
What some Friends of the Earth Groups are planning for The International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations on September 21
Friends of the Earth groups around the world will commemorate the International Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations in a variety of creative ways. We are working to get the word out across the world. We hope you will join us and get some inspiration from these examples of Friends of the Earth actions below.
In the Czech Republic an information
campaign will buzz around Middle Europe through facebook and email
campaigns. Want to help out? Find Friends of the Earth Czech Republic on Facebook
In Mexico, the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Governors Climate and Forest Task Force (REDD - GCF) will meet in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas between 25 – 27 September. Amigos de la Tierra Mexico is conducting parallel activites, including a press conference, daily forums for public debate, guests from FoE USA (Jeff Conant) and AdT Brasil (Lucia Ortiz), and representatives of the Lacandon jungle who are fighting REDD and oil palm plantations. The period around September 21 will be covered in a blog
Amigos de Terra Brasil will be at the University de Espirito Santo for a book launch (La Ambientalizacion de los Bancos y La Finacerizacion de la Natureleza) with Red Alerta Contra el Desierto Verde and the Brasilian Network of IFIs. They also plan community visits.
Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica plans an action in front of the Constitutional Court, protesting the advance of monoculture pineapple plantations and their impacts on forests.
In Mozambique a workshop about the community forest project underway there will be taking place on the 20 and 21 of September. On the 21 they will release a short documentary about one of these projects and the invasion of plantations in the area. A petition to the national government to halt their plans to turn Mozambique into a mega plantation is also planned.
Argentina will conduct outreach activities and workshops.
Uganda will also mark the day with workshops and press releases.
Sep 18, 2012
Friends of the Earth International is supporting Global Frackdown, a mass global day of action on Saturday, September 22 demanding a ban on fracking around the world.
Fracking is a relatively new and highly destructive way of extracting oil or gas from the ground. It involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into hard shale rocks at high pressure to release the gas or oil that is trapped inside.
Gas from fracking (known as ‘shale gas’) is being promoted as ‘clean energy’, but the reality is very different. Fracking threatens our air, water, communities and climate. Fracking:
- taps into a new and vast source of high carbon fossil fuels - one of the main causes of climate change and irreversible and catastrophic climate impacts
- uses enormous quantities of water, an already scarce resource
- involves highly toxic chemicals which can escape and pollute local drinking water supplies
- will very likely lead to the forced displacement of communities and small farmers like other forms of fossil fuel extraction
- releases dangerous levels of methane, another potent greenhouse gas that can also leak into nearby water supplies and cause explosions
- can cause earth tremors
Fracking is just one aspect of the corporate-controlled global dirty energy system which we need to transform if we are to avert catastrophic climate change and improve the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of communities around the world. Dirty fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and other dirty energies like agrofuels and energy from destructive mega-dams and waste incineration harm communities and the environment whilst mostly serving the energy needs of corporations, not ordinary people.
We need to replace this unsustainable and exploitative energy model with energy systems based on appropriate, clean, renewable energy under real democratic and community control.
This transformation is already under way, and Friends of the Earth International is campaigning to help make it a reality. One of the first steps is stopping dirty energy, and that is why we are supporting Global Frackdown, an initiative of Food & Water Watch.
Around the world hundreds of communities are organising to protect their land and water and resist fracking. Communities and campaigners have managed to stop fracking in Bulgaria and France. Campaigners in South Africa won a temporary moratorium, but saw this lifted last week showing that more pressure and global solidarity is needed.
Global Frackdown will unite concerned citizens everywhere for a day of action on September 22, 2012.
Over 125 actions are being planned all over the world to demand that decision makers oppose fracking and send a message to governments that we want a future fueled by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. For more information www.globalfrackdown.org
Some more information from Friends of the Earth Groups on FrackingFoE England, Wales and Northern Ireland background information
FoE Ireland recent community panel discussion
background informationFoE Europe
Sep 13, 2012
Branding a plantation a 'forest' is like calling a big swimming pool a 'lake'
On September 21 every year, environmental and social groups from all over the world mark the International Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations. While multilateral organisations persist in telling the world that plantations help the environment and the economy, the reality is that timber plantations almost always have a negative impact on communities, local economies and biodiversity. These plantations are not a solution to climate change nor to biodiversity loss.
Monoculture tree plantations have a serious impact on the communities and eco-systems around them. Many people who depend on forests for their livelihoods have been evicted or relocated to make way for plantations. The impact on biodiversity can be severe as plantations are not similar to forests in the diversity of life that they can host. Hydrological cycles are disrupted and ecosystems hurt by the widened use of pesticides.
That's why on September 21st -- the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations-- Friends of the Earth groups plan various activities around the world, including calling attention to and challenging the expansion of palm oil tree plantations destined for agrofuel production, challenging eucalyptus and other monoculture tree plantations grown for export, and exposing over-consumption and consumerism.
- Watch the video 'Silent Occupation'
- Read 'Why Tree Plantations Are the Problem, Not the Solution,' an opinion piece by Isaac Rojas on AlterNet
- Learn about some actions Friends of the Earth groups are taking to mark the day around the world
- Read a poem about Monoculture Tree Plantations
Aug 30, 2012
Environmental Injustice – Environmental Nakba
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) was invited by Friends of the Earth Palestine (Pengon)* to observe the environmental consequences of the Israeli occupation. The Observer Mission took place between August 26 – 29. Bobby Peek of South Africa and Eurig Scandrett of Scotland represented Friends of the Earth International (FoEI).
For two days, Peek and Scandrett met with local mayors, administrators and communities in the West Bank. They witnessed the environmental impact of the Israeli occupation throughout the West Bank. Untreated Israeli sewage and industrial waste contaminates Palestinian land. Water from the West Bank is denied to Palestinians so that Israeli settlers can live on Palestinian land. They also heard stories of the use of military force to destroy Palestinian cisterns and wells.
“The theft of resources and the pollution of land and water are designed to serve only the interests of the apartheid state of Israel. This is nothing short of an environmental nakba**.” said Eurig Scandrett.
FoEI's vision is of a peaceful and sustainable world, where societies live in harmony with nature; a society founded on social, economic, gender, and environmental justice, free from all forms of domination and exploitation. What the FoEI observer mission witnessed in the West Bank was almost the opposite of this vision.
The occupation of Palestinian lands by military might has resulted in the formalisation of the unequal relationship between the peoples of Israel and Palestine. Injustices damaging the health and wellbeing of Palestinian people and their environment will continue as long as this abnormal societal structure exists.
* The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network- Friends of Earth Palestine (PENGON- FoE Palestine) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 1996 to serve the Palestinian environment by coordinating the scattered efforts of the different Palestinian NGOs working in the field of environment. Pengon has 14 organisational members
** The word nakba is an Arabic word meaning catastrophe. Since the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 and the consequential displacement of Palestinians, Palestinians mark Al-Nakba Day on 15 May every year.
Jul 25, 2012
GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) protests at the Belarusian embassy and called on Austrian Foreign Minister Spindelegger to support their calls for the right to freedom of expression.
Vienna (July 24, 2012) - The Austrian environmental organization GLOBAL 2000 calls on the authoritarian Belarussian regime to immediately release unjustly detained nuclear physicist and journalist Andrey Ozharkovskiy. Ozharkovskiy was arrested with three other activists last Wednesday while peacefully protesting the signing of a loan agreement between Russia and Belarus for a new nuclear plant in Belarus. His three colleagues have now been released, but Ozharkovskiy remains in custody. The reasons for his ongoing detention remain unclear. GLOBAL 2000 has already protested and demanded that the Belarusian Embassy in Vienna immediately provide clarification of the circumstances of their detained fellow nuclear activists.
Klaus Kastenhofer, CEO of GLOBAL 2000 says that the Belarusian Embassy have not felt the need to explain the undemocratic actions of their government. He requested more information on the arrests directly from the Belarussian authorities but his request was denied. GLOBAL 2000 suspects that the arrest of Andrey Ozharkovskiy and the others (Irina Sukhy, Tatiana Novikova and Michael Matskevich) is a further attempt to intimidate the wider anti-nuclear movement in Belarus.
The first nuclear power plant to be built with Russian funding is planned for an area close to Astravets Belarus (Grodno region), near the Lithuanian border within the next eight years. There are huge concerns within the EU about the construction of new nuclear power plants in an area where Chernobyl's catastrophic effects still have significant repurcussions. “Proactive protests concerning the threat of nuclear disaster have to be taken extremely seriously after the huge meltdowns at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Fukushima has demonstrated very clearly what happens if doubts about this high-risk technology are suppressed.” Kastenhofer concluded.
GLOBAL 2000 / Friends of the Earth Austria
Press Officer: Mag. Lydia Matzka-Saboi 00 43 699/14 2000 26
CEO: Dr. Klaus Kastenhofer 00 43 69914 2000 32
Demand the immediate release of anti-nuclear activist Andrey Ozharkovskiy, detained in Belarus
GLOBAL 2000/ Friends of the Earth Austria - Three activists were arrested in Minsk when they left their home/office on the day that Russian prime minister Medvedev arrived in Minsk to sign a contract for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Belarus.
Four activists were sentenced, three of whom were detained. Russian nuclear physicist and journalist Andrey Ozharkovskiy, Belarusian journalist Tatyana Novikova, manager of the environmental organization EcoDom Irina Sukhy and human rights observer Michael Matskevich are openly against the plans to build a nuclear power plant near Astravetz close to the Lithuanian border.
Although Novikova and Matskevich have since been released, Ozharkovskiy remains in custody.
GLOBAL 2000 have cooperated with the aforementioned activists for years and know them as dedicated, non-violent people. Their activities are consistent with the right to free expression as outlined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. GLOBAL 2000 call on the Belarusian government:
- to immediately free Andrey Ozharkovskiy,
- to drop all charges against all four campaigners,
- to explain its position on the arrests,
- to respect freedom of speech now and in the future.
Sign the letter to the Belarusian embassy in Vienna on the GLOBAL 2000 website (External Link: Information in German, scroll down for letter in English)
Jul 17, 2012
Following his wrongful arrest for murder, our friend and colleague has been set free.
In Paraguay last month, Miguel Correa, a 20 year old working with Friends of the Earth Paraguay was wrongfully arrested after violence broke out during a police-led eviction of peasant farmers.
Shots were fired, resulting in 17 dead and many injured.
Miguel feared that his friend had been injured, so went to the hospital to try and find him. In the confusion he was detained by the police, and wrongfully arrested for murder.
Over the past 48 hours, thousands of Friends of the Earth supporters across the world took action in solidarity with Miguel.
Friends of the Earth demonstrated outside the Paraguayan embassy yesterday to demand his release.
We have just received confirmation that Miguel has now been set free.
This fantastic news is a huge relief for his family and everyone at Friends of the Earth Paraguay.
Thank you for your support and for taking action with us. The pressure really worked.
While we celebrate his freedom, the Paraguayan authorities are yet to respond to our request for a full investigation into the 17 deaths.
We will keep you posted with the latest developments.
Jul 13, 2012
On 21 June 2012, Friends of the Earth International delegates joined a sit-in and walk-out at the entrance of the Rio+20 Summit.
Jul 12, 2012
Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean is concerned about the serious situation facing Colombian community leaders and academics committed to the struggle for social and environmental justice. In recent weeks, they have learned of the increasing criminalization and prosecution of some of these social activists .
On Saturday June 8 this year, FELIX MANUEL BANGUERO was arrested. Banguero,member of the Regional Coordination Team for Black Communities development (PCN), the Pilamo Community Council, was indicted on charges of rebellion and conspiracy.
Banguero is a leader of the PCN, which has stood for organizational commitment to the work of black communities and has served as secretary of culture for Guachené Township. Felix is currently serving as civic culture adviser for Guachené Township.
Last week, the Regional Office of Huila opened a criminal investigation into the distinguished professor MILLER DUSSAN based on a communication from Colonel Juan Francisco Pelaez Ramirez of March 7, 2012, consisting of annexed audiovisual material with which it aims to evaluate “the irregular nature of the behaviour of professor Dussan Miller”, in the demonstrations that have been held against the Quimbo hydroelectric project. Miller is a renowned faculty professor at the Surcolombiana University and does research on social issues. His work is widely known nationally and internationally. His studies and positions on the impacts and conflicts of hydropower, particularly on the Quimbo project, have been published in books, magazines and websites and disseminated in academic and social forums all over the world.
On Saturday, July 7 between 5 and 8 pm, the home and workplace of HILDEBRANDO VÉLEZ GALEANO was raided. Vélez Galeano, renowned environmentalist, professor, member of PCN Palenke Alto Cauca, was director of our partner organization in Colombia and International Coordinator Campaign of Energy and Climate Change in our federation during the years 2009 and 2010.
Since February 17, 2011 when Sandra Viviana Cuellar went missing, his house as well as his daughter's house were simultaneously attacked on two occasions. Computers with information, primarily concerning the search for Sandra Viviana were stolen, as were papers concerning their academic research and documents related to their social struggles.
Such incidents occur despite these leaders having taken protective measures as stipulated by the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) and programs to protect human rights by the Colombian government. However, according to information received from Colombia, rather than protecting the rights of members of social organizations, they are neither respected nor guaranteed.
Referring to the instances above, Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean:
- Request the Colombian government to respect and ensure fundamental rights to life, association, freedom of thought and expression – including academic expression – for community leaders, activists and intellectuals and their families;
- Call on the international community to take note of these violations of human rights and support measures for protection of lives and integral rights of our communities and activists;
- Expresses its support and solidarity with the Colombian people and the people involved in the defense of their territories and cultures.
What can you do?
Show your solidarity by writing a letter to the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protest the treatment of community leaders and academics:
MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES
Calle 10 No. 5-51
Palacio de San Carlos
Jul 08, 2012
The violence caused at least 4 deaths and the detention of Rev. Marco Arana. Friends of the Earth International supports the following statement to the Peruvian government and embassies around the world.
We wish to express our contempt for the alarming increase of repression and violation of fundamental rights seen in Peru as the government´s response towards the environmental conflicts in recent months.
For weeks, this completely irresponsible and disproportionate response, with the indiscriminate use of firearms even from helicopters against demonstrators and pedestrians has killed four people and left tens of people wounded in the El Espinar conflict in the Cusco Department; one person has died and various left with gunshot injuries in Bambamarca; in the protests of the town of Celedín in Cajamarca against the Conga mining project which threaten the contamination and disappearance of water sources of the region, three have died and tens of people left with gunshot injuries.
In the same context, we denounce the violent and arbitrary detention of Father Marco Arana, a member of the environmentalist organization, Group for Training and Intervention for Sustainable Development (GRUFIDES), one of the community´s role models in the resistance against the mining industry and leader of the political party ¨Tierra y Dignidad¨ (¨Land and Dignity¨), as was recorded by the media. See video here of the detention.
All this has been accompanied by extraordinary measures and the deprivation of freedom through a declaration of a state of emergency in both conflicts. With the precedents in Honduras and Paraguay, we fear that we will find ourselves before a dynamic increase in the suspension of the rights and freedom of the population in various countries in Latin America, especially linked to the defense of the interests of different multinationals and their extractive businesses. For these reasons:
- We express our deepest indignation to the government of Peru; we implore you to put an immediate end to the repressive increase and to assume your historical responsibility to be the guardian of the Human Rights of the Peruvian population.
- We appeal to social organizations, NGOS for international cooperation, human rights entities, public institutions and others, to actively engage in defending the rights and freedom to impede an authoritarian change in Peru, and to defend a resolution of the conflicts in accordance with the right to have free access to all information about the affected communities and towns.
- We request a clarification of all the facts which have led to these serious events and which have brought about the grief in these areas.
- We demand the multinational company of Newmont, which leads the Conga project, to issue a statement on the violent and illegal actions of the Peruvian government.
As civil society organizations we will keep a watchful eye on the development of the happenings in Peru, with widespread dissemination of information related to it and alerting international entities on the repressive politics of the Peruvian government that violate and infringe the agreement signed by both parties regarding the rights of the towns.
We will continue to lend our support and solidarity in accompanying the affected areas, to the social and communal organizations, as well as their local authorities and especially to the families of the victims.
For more information
Jun 29, 2012
RIO DE JANEIRO (BRAZIL) – A Friends of the Earth International delegation joins today a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro to denounce the brutal murder of two fishermen leaders from the Guanabara Bay and to express our solidarity with the families of the victims and their community.
On June 14th 2012, one week prior to the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit, Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey took part in a 'toxic tour' of the Guanabara Bay near Rio de Janeiro where the association AHOMAR has been denouncing since 2007 the crimes and rights violations which took place during the construction of the Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex, one of the largest investments in the history of Brazilian energy giant Petrobras.
Friends of the Earth International signed on the statement below and will closely follow the investigation and measures to be taken by the State Government in the defense of all fisherfolks involved in this struggle.
Repudiation on the murder of AHOMAR fishermen
The undersigned social movements and civil society organizations express in this manifest their indignation for the brutal murder of Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, artisanal fishermen and members of Homens e Mulheres do Mar Association (AHOMAR) in the Guanabara Bay. We demand that the State of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian State to take immediate mesures too investigate the facts and to protect the lives of threatened fisher folk.
Almir and Pituca were leaders of AHOMAR, a local fisherfolk organization, in struggle against the social and environmental impacts created by big economic investments that are making artisanal fishing impossible in the Guanabara Bay. Both went missing after going out to fish on friday, June 22nd 2012. Almir's body was found on sunday, June 24th, tied to their boat, submerged close to the São Lourenço beach in Magé, Rio de Janeiro. The body of João Luiz Telles, Pituca, was found on monday, June 25th, with hands and feet tied in fetal position, close to the São Gonçalo beach.
AHOMAR: a history of struggle
AHOMAR represents artisan fisherfolk from seven municipalities at the Guanabara Bay and has 1.870 associate members. Since 2007, they systematically denounce the crimes and rights violations occurred during the construction of the Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex (COMPERJ), one of the largest investments in the history of PetroBras (Brazilian semi-public multinational energy corporation) and part of the Brazilian government's Growth Acceleration Plan (PAC).
In 2009, the men and women of AHOMAR have occupied the construction sites of land and sub-sea gas pipelines for transport of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), built by a consortium between two contractors: GDK and Oceânica, hired by Petrobras. This construction is directly making artisanal fishing impossible in the Mauá-Magé beach, Guanabara Bay, where the AHOMAR headquarters is located. They anchored their boats close to the pipelines and stayed there for 38 days. Since then, the fishermen are suffering constant death threats. That same year, in may, Paulo Santos Souza, formerly in charge of the association's accounting, was brutally beaten in front of his family and killed with five shots in the head. In 2010, another AHOMAR founder, Márcio Amaro, was also murdered at his home, in front of his mother and wife. Both crimes have never been cleared up.
Because of the violence and the constant threats, since 2009, Alexandre Anderson de Souza, president of AHOMAR, and his family are under protection of the Human Rights Defenders Program, living 24h under police escort. That couldn't prevent new attempted attacks on Alexandre's life.
Escalation of threats and more murders
By the end of 2011 and first months of 2012, the AHOMAR fisherfolk got mobilized once more against the impacts of the COMPERJ construction. Under the argument of accelerating the construction execution schedule, Petrobras and INEA (Environment State Institute of Rio de Janeiro) tried to bring back to the project a proposal that had been discarded before, during the environmental licensing process. The manoeuvre was about turning the Guaxindiba River, a Guanabara Bay afluent, into a waterway for the transportation of the COMPERJ construction equipment.
Aware of the proportions of the impact this project would have on the Guanabara Bay and artisanal fishing, the members of AHOMAR denounced the intentions of Petrobras and leaded a mobilization in solidarity to Breno Herrera, head of the Guapimirim environmental protection area, threatened to be dismissed from the National Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity because of his opposition to this enterprise. Since then, the threats against the AHOMAR fisher folk has escalated.
To worsen this situation, in february 2012, the Police Deployment of Mauá beach, where both the AHOMAR headquarters and Alexandre Anderson's residence are located, has been deactivated, exposing the fisher folk to new threats and increasing the vulnerability of the local population. Since then, three other community leaders suffered death threats. In this context of disarray of public security in the region and escalation of threats against the fisherfolk, Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra have been murdered. This deaths were, therefore, foretold. Clear evidences were point out that both have been executed. In face of this grave events, we express all our indignation and full solidarity to AHOMAR and to the families of the murdered fishermen. At the same time, we demand:
- That the murderers of Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra and the mandators of this crime be identified and made responsible;
- That the investigations on the deaths of Paulo Santos Souza and Márcio Amaro are carried on, and that their murderers are also identified and made responsible;
- That all the threats against the AHOMAR fisherfolk are investigated;
- That the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, signs the Decree Law of the State Programe for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
- That the Presidency of the Republic Human Rights Secretariat follows closely the investigations on the murders of the leaders mentioned above.
- That the protection of Alexandre Anderson is stregthen and that the police escort can be extended to protect his wife, Daize Menezes de Souza;
- The immediate reactivation of the DPO Praia de Mauá police deployment and the improvement of public security in the region;
- That Petrobras and the companies involved in the COMPERJ construction in the Guanabara Bay negotiate with AHOMAR recognizing the movement's fair agenda and the fisherfolk's demands.
The undersigned will go on denouncing the killing of the activists engaged in legitimate social struggle against the destruction of the conditions of artisanal fishing in the Guanabara Bay and other fishing areas of the State of Rio de Janeiro. We will also follow closely the process of investigations and measures to be taken by the State Government in the defense of all fishefolk's compromised with this struggle. The deaths of Almir, João Luiz, Paulo and Márcio lead us to affirm: we are all fisherfolk, we are all AHOMAR activists!
Mar 12, 2012
The Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders is an initiative of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD International Coalition) to articulate the challenges faced by women human rights defenders and how best to respond to them.
The Global Report on the Situation of Women Human Rights Defenders, reflects the growing body of analyses produced by the members of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD International Coalition) since 2005. It demonstrates the challenges to women human rights defenders (WHRDs), the source of these challenges and how best to respond to them.
The use of 43 cases studies, including that of Sandra Viviana Cuéllar Gallego, selected by WHRD International Coalition illuminate specific trends and experiences of WHRDs. The cases provide a vivid glimpse of the landscape in which WHRDs live and work.
Feb 29, 2012
Friends of the Earth International condemns the recent violent incidents carried out against Friends of the Earth Guatemala (CEIBA) and the National Network in Defence of Food Sovereignty, Guatemala (REDSAG).
On February 25 the offices of Friends of the Earth Guatemala (CEIBA) and the National Network in Defense of Food Sovereignty (REDSAG) were broken into and all the computers were stolen. Money and valuable objects were not taken from the premises. This has led the organisations to believe that the crimes were politically motivated.
Last week CEIBA's environmental communicator, Oscar Galvez, was victim of another intimidating action. On March 15th he was attacked in the street by two people on a motorcycle. One of them threatened him with a gun and only took his laptop, containing information relevant to CEIBA and the organisations it works with.
The work carried out by CEIBA and REDSAG is widely known in Guatemala and around the world for its participation and promotion of processes for the defence of Indigenous Peoples and Guatemalan communities, like the successful community consultations. The groups have also opposed highly damaging projects such as mining and mega hydroelectric projects
Friends of the Earth International demands the authorities take the necessary steps to protect the property and physical integrity of the workers of CEIBA and REDSAG. Protecting the rights of human rights defenders is an urgent and unavoidable task. In the same way we expect that a transparent investigation into the incidents is carried out immediately.
Feb 16, 2012
Friends of the Earth International condemns the violent evictions carried out this week in Colombia to make way for the construction of the El Quimbo hydroelectric dam.
The Magdalena River, Colombia. Credit: RitaCuba
Police forces carried out a violent eviction of fishermen families from a non-violent sit-in on the shores of Magdalena river in front of the construction site of the hydroelectric project 'El Quimbo'.
They left three people wounded, amongst them a young man who lost his eye due to one of the gas-canisters used by the police. The construction has seriously affected the local way of life and has has a negative impact on women and men farmers, day labourers, fishermen, traditional miners that have constructed their culture around the Magdalena river.
It has come to our attention through declarations of Asoquimbo, the local organization that represents the people affected by the project and our national organization CENSAT 'Agua Viva', that the fishermen and farmers have appealed to all legal actions available to them in the framework of the Political Constitution and legislation of Colombia to stop the project, due to the permanent non-compliance and irregularities of the environmental license given by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Moreover, they have requested a Public Environmental Audience, as present in the Colombian legal framework, as a means for participation, where communities can make their demands public to entities of control, government, companies and the public in general. Up until today their request has been denied.
We strongly denounce the fact that during the eviction independent media were prevented from entering the area, amongst them our correspondent of Real World Radio, medium of communication for the Federation of Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth International declares:
- Its unconditional support to the women and men affected by the hydroelectric project 'El Quimbo' in defence of their territory and their traditional ways of life.
- Its rejection of the violent answers towards the communities that ignore the roads of dialogue Asoquimbo and local organizations have promoted during the four years of resistance against the hydroelectric project.
- To the Colombian government to urgently attend the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, that recognised the multiple environmental impacts, and on the life and means of subsistence of communities closely tied to rivers; Approve the realisation of the Public environmental Audience requested by the local communities and guarantee the protection of the rights of the local population, directly or indirectly affected y the hydroelectric project 'El Quimbo'.
- To the international community the importance to accompany Asoquimbo and local organizations in their valiant resistance and to support their proposal to declare the area of 'El Quimbo' a Rural and Agro-food Reserve.