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The Upstream Journal

A magazine on social justice since 1975

  • The critical voice of South Sudan: An interview with Mading Ngor

    The critical voice of South Sudan: An interview with Mading Ngor

  • Can we create a framework to help businesses prioritize human rights?

    Can we create a framework to help businesses prioritize human rights?

  • More than 109,000 children work in Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa industry...

    More than 109,000 children work in Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa industry...

The Upstream Journal

Journal

Shrilanka: the state of emergency is over, but lack of justice and accountability continue

Tharindo

Tharindo, a Sri Lankan national of Tamil descent studying for his PhD at London’s King College, talking about his brother Saman’s death. In May 2009, he says, five State Intelligence Service officers arrived at the home his brother shared with their mother and sister in Colombo. The police report says that Saman jumped from the balcony of the family’s seventh floor apartment in an ill-fated attempt to escape during questioning. Neighbours say they saw police officers take Saman, his hands bound behind his back, out to the balcony and throw him over the railing. Photo: Natasha Skreslet

Claims of extrajudicial executions are not uncommon in Sri Lanka. The Asian Human Rights Commission has referred to a “constitutionally entrenched impunity” which plagues the small island nation just emerging from three decades of civil war.

From 1971 to 2011, Sri Lanka was under a state of emergency almost continually. Emergency regulations can override, amend, or suspend legislation, and permit detention without charge or trial for up to 18 months in a secret location. Human rights advocates say this facilitated human rights abuses like forced disappearances, torture and death in custody. Continue Reading

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  • 2012 / Jan
  • By Timothée Labelle
  • 0
Journal

Des femmes prennent le volant à Riyad

Manal Al Sharaf

Même si l’interdiction de conduire est contestée depuis plus de vingt ans, c’est à l’été 2011, avec Manal Al-Sharif et la campagne Women 2 Drive, que la situation des femmes saoudiennes a attiré l’attention des médias internationaux. Manal Al-Sharif, photo par Abduljalil Alnasser.

Le 22 mai dernier, Manal Al-Sharif, activiste saoudienne reconnue, prend le volant pour vaquer à ses activités quotidiennes. Elle est arrêtée dans les heures qui suivent, mais la vidéo de son court trajet prendra rapidement d’assaut les médias sociaux.

Moins d’un mois plus tard, une quarantaine de femmes roulent dans les rues de Riyad, la capitale. La campagne spontanée Women 2 Drive commençait, le dernier épisode d’une longue lutte pour la reconnaissance des droits des femmes saoudiennes. Bilan d’un combat de longue haleine pour des libertés fondamentales.

Les femmes et la monarchie

À son arrivée au pouvoir en 2005, le roi Abdullah promet d’intégrer les femmes à la vie économique saoudienne. Il prend une série de mesures destinées à reconnaître certains droits aux femmes.

Il nomme Mme Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez ministre de l’Éducation, la première femme à accéder à un poste au cabinet. Il ouvre aussi une université mixte, s’engage à prendre des mesures pour contrer la violence domestique et démarre un dialogue national sur l’égalité des sexes. En septembre dernier, le roi annonçait même que les femmes auraient le droit de voter aux élections régionales de 2015. Les groupes humanitaires demeurent toutefois sceptiques. Continue Reading

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Journal

Fairtrade gold: Ethical, ecological local

Glasfurd&Walker_IMG_7720-bw “A wedding ring is the only ornament meant to be worn everyday for the rest of your life,” says Genevieve Ennis Hume, co-founder of Hume Atelier in Vancouver. Hume Atelier is a custom jewellery studio which sources all of its gold from fair-trade licensed artisanal and small mining communities.

Rings are often symbols of love and commitment, but people who buy and wear them are often unaware of the metal’s source and method of production.

The NGO Fairtrade UK estimates that 100 million people, from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America, directly or indirectly depend on the artisanal and small-community mining sector for their livelihood. It is an industry characterized by poverty, child labour, environmental degradation, wage discrimination, and exploitation. Continue Reading

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Journal

Chaining the mentally ill

A mentally ill boy

A mentally ill boy is held by restraints as a precaution against him turning violent, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

Across the islands of Indonesia, people commonly use iron shackles, wooden stocks and rope to restrain individuals with mental illnesses. This is known as pasung, and includes physical restraints and confinement.

Many nurses and mental health workers chain patients or place patients in seclusion rooms to establish a sense of order in hospitals. Fearing a family member with a mental illness, families use similar practices at home, often in emulation of the professionals in the hospitals.

Such treatment compromises the health of the mentally ill, argues Dr. Soumitra Pathare, a psychiatrist in Pune, India, and expert in human rights law and mental health. He has assisted several countries, including Indonesia, develop mental health policy and law. Continue Reading

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Journal

The Jailing of Afgan Women

Photo: Women going to a community meeting in Bagram, Afghanistan. Courtesy ISAF Public Affairs

Photo: Women going to a community meeting in Bagram, Afghanistan. Courtesy ISAF Public Affairs

Once a woman in Afghanistan has been charged with a crime, she will most likely not see the inside of a courtroom nor attain justice otherwise, but will be thrown in jail, usually for crimes that aren’t directly codified in Afghan law.

After imprisonment, she has little hope of re-integrating into her society and her options are few. Dishonored and ostracized from family and the community, some women seek asylum in an NGO-run shelter. Others die, either as an ‘honour killing’ by her family or by suicide. Some, in extreme desperation, douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire. Continue Reading

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Journal

Kalahari Bushmen fight to return home

Bushman mother and child<br />Photo: Survival International

Bushman mother and child
Photo: Survival International

The lives of the Bushmen of Botswana changed dramatically thirty years ago with the discovery of more than three billion dollars’ worth of diamonds in the Kalahari Desert. Their home, now part of the Kalahari Reserve, is in the middle of the richest diamond producing area in the world.

Authorities began relocating the Bushmen into settlements outside the Central Kalahari, arguing that the Bushmen were depleting the reserve’s natural resources, that their lifestyle was no longer consistent with the developmental objectives of the reserve, and that it was cost-inefficient for the government to provide services to the community. Continue Reading

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  • 2011 / May
  • By Timothée Labelle
  • 3
Journal

La stigmatisation et répression des Montagnards de Vietnam

«Les Montagnards sont victimes d’un nettoyage ethnique. Leur monde est détruit par la mondialisation, la modernisation et les répressions du gouvernement vietnamien» dit Scott Johnson de la Montagnard Foundation Inc.

La nuit du 16 octobre 2007, alors qu’elle y dormait avec ses trois enfants, la maison d’H’Aner a été brûlé par des policiers vietnamiens. Ils avaient appris quelques jours plus tôt que son mari supportait une organisation américaine défendant les droits du peuple montagnard au Vietnam, la  Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI). À ce jour, le sort de la famille d’H’Aner est inconnu de la MFI.  Photo: MFI

La nuit du 16 octobre 2007, alors qu’elle y dormait avec ses trois enfants, la maison d’H’Aner a été brûlé par des policiers vietnamiens. Ils avaient appris quelques jours plus tôt que son mari supportait une organisation américaine défendant les droits du peuple montagnard au Vietnam, la Montagnard Foundation Inc. (MFI). À ce jour, le sort de la famille d’H’Aner est inconnu de la MFI. Photo: MFI

La répression des Montagnards par les autorités vietnamiennes prend plusieurs formes, visibles et invisibles. Des manifestants pacifiques battus en pleine rue, des prêtres chrétiens montagnards assassinés après avoir refusé de se joindre aux groupes religieux autorisés par le Parti communiste vietnamien (PCV), nombre de prisonniers torturés et des femmes stérilisées de force sont les traces visibles de la répression. Continue Reading

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Journal

How young people can prepare for a life in international development

How young people can prepare for a life in international development
Breaking into the field:
How to get your career in international development started

A recent graduate of political science, I studied human rights and international development. I am especially interested in how good governance is a key component of recovery and stability in post-conflict countries. But how to get a job that’s relevant to my studies and interest?

For information and advice on how to get a job in human rights and international development, I contacted some NGOs that work in these fields and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Volunteering and interning

Volunteer experience is key to starting a career in international human rights and development, according to Bonnie Harnden, Executive Assistant at Amnesty International Canada, especially when jobs are scarce. AI Canada hires an average of two or three people a year, including fund raisers, selecting from about 200 applicants. Continue Reading

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Journal

World Bank strengthens its human rights policy

“Consulation” no longer good enough:Consent of local indigenous people now required for commercial projects

The World Bank division that funds private sector projects, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), recently revised its operating guidelines to require the “free, prior and informed consent” (FPIC) of indigenous people for projects affecting them. This replaces a much-criticized policy that only required “consultation” with local people.

Human rights groups are pleased with the change, for which they have lobbied for years, but are concerned that the new policy – set out in what are called “Performance Standards” – does not go far enough and that the IFC will limit its use. In February, several international NGOs sent a letter to the IFC claiming, among other things, that the “IFC’s current approach does not include a clear commitment to ensuring that human rights are respected and protected in the context of its activities. IFC’s approach is also inconsistent with, and undermines, the emerging international consensus on the responsibility of companies to take concrete actions to ensure that they respect human rights.” Continue Reading

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Journal

Killers target youth leaders in Guatemala

Victor Leiva was one of the instructors of Caja Ludica, an art collective in Guatemala providing troubled youth with art and culture as alternatives to violence and gang-membership. The organization incorporates drama, dance, acrobatics, stilt-walking and juggling.

Victor Leiva left gang violence to pursue a life in art and community involvement. At 24 years old, he was murdered.

Victor Leiva left gang violence to pursue a life in art and community involvement. At 24 years old, he was murdered.
Photo courtesy of Christian Aid. (UK)

Although he turned to street gangs in his early years, Leiva eventually found art as an alternative. He was one of the collective’s founding members and also participated as a clown and stilt-walker. “I did my first parade in 2002. I’ve never forgotten it. I teach young people juggling and stilt-walking. It makes me very happy, and it makes me humble,” he told Christian Aid, a UK-based NGO, in 2007. Continue Reading

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