December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. On this day, Grassroots International is honored to call special attention to the social movements that are on the frontlines of the struggle for resource rights – the human rights to land and water, as well as food sovereignty and climate justice. We have much to celebrate, with several major successes that social movements have achieved in the struggle for resource rights over recent years. At the same time, over the past year, we have been heartbroken as we’ve lost many people who have been courageously defending resource in each of Grassroots International’s program areas. The photos and stories below are just a small sample of some of these movements and human rights defenders. We share them as one way of paying tribute to these lives and the broader struggles of which they are a part, and we commit ourselves to continuing to accompany international social movements in the struggle for resource rights.
Please share this photo blog with others and make a gift to help support this important work as ways to recognize International Human Rights Day with us.
1. Parabens, MST! (Congratulations, MST!)
Photo credit: MST
Earlier this year, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) held its 6th National Congress, which brought together an estimated 17,000 people, including MST members from across the country, national and international allies. We are honored to celebrate you as one of the world’s largest and most effective social movements for food sovereignty, climate justice, and the human rights to land and water. (Look closely at the picture above – the flower design is made up of over a hundred people, from the opening mistica of the MST’s 6th National Congress!)
2. Charity Mahouna Hicks, Presente!
Photo credit: Friends of the MST
Charity Hicks (3rd from the left) was an organizer with the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, a leader within the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Climate Justice Alliance, and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, and an internationalist through-and-through. From Detroit to the national and international levels, she organized around food sovereignty, the human right to water, and the Rights of Mother Earth. Charity died on July 8, 2014 after having been struck by a hit-and-run driver in New York, on her way to a Left Forum workshop. Charity, we miss you deeply, and will carry forward your call to “Wage Love!”
3. Resistance in Vallecito!
Photo credit: Steve Pavey, Agricultural Missions
On July 17, 2014, 21 members and leaders of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) were abducted in Vallecito by heavily armed individuals associated with organized crime in Honduras. Fortunately, the 21 OFRANEH members and leaders (including Miriam Miranda pictured above) were released soon after their abduction. We are humbled by OFRANEH’s courage and success in standing up for human rights and celebrate its efforts to build stronger social movements across Honduras, Mesoamerica, and around the world!
4. Daniel Dorsinvil and Girldy Larêche, Presente!
Photo credit: Facebook/Girldy Larêche and Facebook/Daniel Dorsinvil
On February 8, 2014, Daniel Dorsinvil, the General Coordinator of our partner the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) was killed on the streets of Port-au-Prince, along with his wife Girldy Larêche. POHDH believes this was a targeted killing as Daniel (and other POHDH staff) received several death threats. We stand with the three children they left behind, and with POHDH which continues to do incredibly important and courageous work to stand up for human rights of all kinds, including civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.
5. John Kinsman, Presente!
Photo credit: Nic Paget-Clarke
John Kinsman was proud to be a fourth-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer, a forerunner of organic and truly sustainable farming in the US, an internationalist with a tireless passion for food sovereignty and founder of Family Farm Defenders. John died on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, after a long life of struggle, humor and compassion. We are deeply grateful for everything he contributed to movement-building efforts to uproot racism and promote food sovereignty and environmental justice.
6. Celebrating Freedom for Hassan Karajah!
Hassan Karajah, youth coordinator of our partner Stop the Wall, was imprisoned for 22 months, enduring harsh conditions and interrogation by Israeli military – a case all too familiar for Palestinian human rights defenders, who are routinely criminalized for their nonviolent efforts to organize against the Israeli occupation. We celebrated an important victory when Hassan was freed from Israeli prison in October 2014 and wish Hassan and his family time to recover together.
7. Los Pajoques, San Juan Sacatepéquez, Presente!
Photo credit: Coordinacion y Convergencia Maya Waqib’ Kej
On September 19, 2014, eight people from the community of Los Pajoques in Guatemala were killed in a massacre and 11 were injured. Our partner the Peasant Unity Committee is organizing with 12 communities in San Juan Sacatepéquez – including Los Pajoques – against a cement company that is pushing to build a factory that would contaminate water and, therefore, the lives and livelihoods of these communities. We stand together with them in demanding justice!
8. Margarita Murillo and Juan Galindo, Presente!
Photo credit: CLOC – Via Campesina Central America
On August 26, 2014, Margarita Murillo, a leader of La Via Campesina Honduras was assassinated after having received many death threats in recent years. Since the 1980s, Margarita was a tireless defender of the right to land of the sovereignty of the Honduran people. On November 11, 2014, Juan Galindo – a leader of the peasant movements defending land in the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras – was assassinated. Since 2009 over 130 peasants in the Bajo Aguan region have been assassinated because of their dedication to the struggle in defense of their rights to land. We stand with these communities as well as with peasants and indigenous peoples around the world building a movement for rights to land and territory.
9. Gaza, Presente!
Photo credit: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Our partner, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, reported that 2,191 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli bombing and ground war in Gaza this summer. Over 10,000 Palestinians were injured and Israeli bombing destroyed 42,000 acres of farmland, hundreds of fishing boats, thousands of homes and crucial infrastructure systems like water, sanitation and energy. At one point over 460,000 Gazans were displaced and many continue to stay in UN shelters because they have nowhere else to go. Hamas also perpetrated human rights violations, including extrajudicial assassinations of at least 25 Palestinians suspected of being “collaborators” with Israel. 71 Israelis were killed, including five civilians, and one Thai worker in Israel. Our partners are on the forefront of the rebuilding effort and are providing humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and documenting human rights violations as well as continuing to work with international social movements towards the broader goal of an end to the Israeli occupation. We mourn the lives of all those killed this summer in Gaza and remember you as we continue in our commitment to take action for a just peace.
10. Climate Justice is a Human Right – And Mother Earth Rights, Too!
Photo credit: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
We were honored to work with our allies in the Climate Justice Alliance to support international social movement leaders to come to New York – including several of our own partners like the Movement of People Affected by Dams, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras and members of La Via Campesina – for the People’s Climate March and the People’s Climate Summit and Tribunal. Together, we created opportunities for these partners to share lessons and strategies with US climate justice groups and to participate in the largest climate march in history. We salute all the people and movements demanding climate justice today and we look forward to continuing to build a strong international movement together.