viernes, 29 de junio de 2012

Cambodia: Quash convictions of 13 women imprisoned for ‘speaking out’


Cambodia: Quash convictions of 13 women imprisoned for ‘speaking out’

A group of women imprisoned last month for peacefully protesting in support of families whose homes were destroyed during a forced eviction must have their convictions overturned and be released immediately, Amnesty International said ahead of an appeal hearing on Wednesday.

On 24 May, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced the 13 community representatives and human rights defenders to two and a half years in prison after a grossly unfair trial.

Their arrest followed a peaceful demonstration against the destruction of homes and the forced eviction of thousands of families living around Boeung Kak Lake, in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

“These women are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for speaking out on behalf of their community and for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia Researcher.

“The charges against the women are baseless, and their trial was grossly unfair.”

The 13 women were tried around an hour after being charged, with their lawyers’ request for time to prepare a defence denied. They were not given access to evidence or allowed to call witnesses.

The appeal hearing for the 13 women is due to take place on Wednesday 27 June at Cambodia’s Appeal Court in Phnom Penh.

“The unfair convictions should be overturned, and the women immediately and unconditionally released,” said Abbott.

Human rights defenders and peaceful protestors in Cambodia, including those trying to save their homes and land, face increasing harassment, legal action and violence, including killings.

In the first six months of 2012, women garment workers demonstrating for improved working conditions were shot in Svay Rieng; a prominent environment activist, Chut Wutty, was shot dead in Koh Kong; and a 14-year-old girl was shot dead during a violent eviction in Kratie.

“Releasing these 13 women would demonstrate that the authorities recognise their human rights obligations, and have the will to stop the human rights situation deteriorating further.”

 26 June 2012

Notes to Editors

Please click here for Amnesty International’s new briefing Cambodia: Imprisoned for speaking out – An update on Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak Lake

For interviews or further information please contact press officer Katya Nasim at / + 44 7904 398 103

Public Document
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

viernes, 22 de junio de 2012

Filipino Women’s Groups Urgent Message to the Philippine Delegation to Rio+20

Filipino Women’s Groups Urgent Message to the
Philippine Delegation to Rio+20

As women who primarily carry both the privilege and burden of social reproduction and care for the human family and ecology, and participate as well in activities that drive societies and economic production, we express our deep concern at the debates and discussions assessing the last two decades since the first Earth Summit and the solutions being forwarded to address the conditions of crises we are caught in today.

The Green Economy
A major push coming from UN agencies, corporations and North governments has taken the form of the Green Economy – the framework that will supposedly address crisis conditions in water and food, energy, the economy, climate and the environment. But we find that behind this cunningly coined concept, is the clear intent by neoliberal forces, primarily corporations, to monetize and commercialize nature, thereby addressing the current crisis of capitalism and pursuing goals of extraction, unhampered growth, mindless consumerism, wealth accumulation and monopolization. This is simply a further elaboration of the ideological framework of neoliberalism that is now being extended to nature.
We are angered that in the face of serious environmental crisis threatening the survival of the world’s disadvantaged peoples, big business and North governments are exploiting the situation to protect their own endangered commercial and business interests. Not only are they repackaging or green-washing their profit-seeking and continued capital accumulation. They are actually proposing to reach deeply and widely into the environment and natural resources for capital, on top of their financial capital and exploitation of human beings as capital, and seeking the mantle of the United Nations and high-level government commitment for the same. In truth, this direction is already manifested in such mechanisms as carbon trading and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) where the atmosphere and forests are given price tags just like other capital goods, and can be traded and sold in the market for profit.
Two decades after the first Earth Summit, we are in greater crisis than before and in deeper levels of impoverishment and deprivation, inequity and injustice. How much longer should we bear this profit-hungry and growth driven route to development that has brought us to these situation of multiple crises today? How much longer should we accept the patriarchal and “macho” responses in the form of fast, large-scale, highly technological systems (even those labelled “green”)? How long will it take people to realize that this social and economic arrangement is the main culprit behind the fast depletion of the world’s natural resources and the potentially catastrophic warming of the earth? Today’s crises require a critical questioning of systems and structures and building alternatives along just, democratic, non-discriminatory, equitable and sustainable lines.
Commodification of land and water have already resulted to large scale displacement of food systems and peoples' culture and means to survive; further marketization and privatization of nature will translate to grabbing access, control and care of the world’s still unexploited resources in private and corporate hands. Women in the Philippines and South countries are in the forefront of food production but have the least access and control over land and other resources. In practically all countries, especially of the global South, women make up the greater majority of people living in poverty. While commodification can lead to the “visibility” of the labor of nature in the economy, this process will ultimately suffer the same fate as the commodification of the labor power of toiling peoples, iand women’s labor and bodies in particular.
The Green Economy totally veers away from the spirit and substance of the agreement in Rio in 1992.
It contradicts women’s perspective on economy and ecology, which we believe are mutually enhancing systems for sustainable development, not sources of capital and profit.
It is also alarming that agencies of the UN, and some donor and funding agencies have apparently partnered with big business, including those with environmentally destructive records, in promoting this track of commoditizing nature. We continue to fight against these corporations that live on human exploitation and natural resource extraction and have destroyed the lives of peoples, especially the poor and marginalized. We are disturbed that alongside talk of rights, empowerment, democracy and development, these agencies also support moves of “greening” resource extraction and fail to question the undiminished privileging of and pursuit of growth. The Philippine government must diligently examine and assess these forms of development aid, against human rights and particularly women’s rights standards.

“Gender and women” as add-ons
We strongly emphasize a widely accepted fact -- that women constitute half of the Philippine and the world’s population, doing both productive and reproductive work and have key roles in environmental protection and renewal. This has been widely affirmed, yet the negotiating text (as of 22 May 2012) marginalizes and trivializes women’s rights and gender equality.
It ignores the various forms of violence and abuse inflicted upon women by the patriarchy in capitalist systems that takes advantage of the unpaid care labor women largely render, and their generally subordinated position that manifests, among others, in their low wage levels, limited employment opportunities, job insecurity, and inadequate to utter lack of social benefits. The adverse effects of these conditions on the basic and reproductive health of working women are well known, and are further aggravated by the poisoning of our air and water resources by dirty energy, and exposure to various toxic substances such as GMOs, pesticides and chemical fertilizers by which corporations exploit nature beyond its carrying capacity and allow them to profit more.
We stress the accountability of the Philippine as a signatory to the wide-ranging Beijing Platform of Action, and a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol. We have campaigned successfully to localize the CEDAW through our own Magna Carta of Women. It is a basic principle in human rights-based approaches, which the Philippine government subscribes to, that there must be no retrogression in the legal obligation of states parties to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. The watering down of women and gender equality issues and concerns in the negotiating text is clearly a retrogression and a violation of what the Philippine government has legally committed to, internationally and domestically, not only in respecting and promoting women’s rights but ensuring the enjoyment of the very same.
Another fundamental rights-based principle is full and meaningful participation. We assert this right, and further seek increasing women’s informed participation through accessible, well-resourced mechanisms enabling of the capacities of women and their organizations. Women should be part of any effort to change society, from direction and agenda-setting to implementation. We push for broad-based citizen’s participation within the frame of a new politics that is linked to people’s movements and advances innovative and transformative practices in dealing with crises.
We believe, together with many other women from the South, that there are many alternatives to corporate-led approaches in dealing with the multiple crises we now all face. We reject these market-oriented, patriarchal approaches, and reiterate several of the points raised by the Women’s Major Group during the Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory for Rio+20 held last year in Seoul, Korea, that –
“…we are working to realize “sustainable economies” that are gender just and enable long-term social and wellbeing outcomes for present and future generations, especially marginalized groups such as indigenous, ethnic and sexual minority groups.
“As women comprise half the world’s population and also count among the poorest, a “sustainable economy” must recognize women’s paid and un(der)paid contributions to economic production, must generate sustainable livelihoods by which women can realize the full enjoyment of their human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and prevent all forms of discrimination and violence in women’s exercise of their economic rights and co-stewardship of the earth’s resources. Central to this is women’s unmediated right to access, own, control and benefit from productive resources and assets, which includes land, water, seeds, energy sources, livestock, financial resources, public subsidies and appropriate technologies.
“…women farmers must be recognized as co-managers of community resource bases and co-
decision-makers in determining the use of natural resources and the distribution of benefits arising from
“We further seek from our governments a commitment to the rapid reduction and elimination of toxic substances and highly hazardous pesticides and fertilizers, while steadily phasing-in non-chemical approaches.
“…as marginalized and excluded groups, women bear the harshest impacts of the current climate crisis, including increased ecological and economic displacement. States must address the gender-
differentiated impacts of climate change while ensuring greater and more meaningful participation of women in the climate deliberations and outcomes, and in adaptation and mitigation strategies.”
Our lives and the lives of future generations in the world are at stake in the the discussions in Rio and all the other discourses on the environment.
Our calls and demands:
1. Junk the “Green Economy” as the framework for addressing the crises in food, water, energy, the economy and the environment, and delete all references to it in the Rio+20 outcome document;
2. Foster and build new socio-economic and political systems that reject growth as the sole parameter of development and puts premium on the equitable distribution of wealth and resources in the context of the earth’s endangered carrying capacity; respects, protects and fulfils human rights; and recognizes and ensures, at the heart of all economic, social and political development goals, gender-fair responsibility for the critical role of social reproduction and care labor in the development and the future of human society and our planet;
3. Genuinely integrate women’s sentiments, lived experiences, voices, issues and demands in the Rio+20 outcome document, resisting the tendency towards retrogression, and in accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the normative standards and legal obligations established by the international bill of human rights – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the Women’s Human Rights Convention or the CEDAW.
4. Ensure and expand spaces/processes for the full, informed, empowering participation and engagement of women’s movements, especially marginalized women and their organizations
5. Put in place mechanisms for accountability and sanctions to meaningfully realize gender justice and climate justice.
SIGNATORIES (15 June 2012)
National/Local Organizations:
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Alliance of Progressive Labor- Women (APL Women)
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Freedom from Debt Coalition Women’s Committee (FDC WC)
Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF)
Kalayaan Philippines
Kilusan at Ugnayan ng Maralitang Pasigenos (KUMPAS)
Koalisyon Pabahay ng Pilipinas (KPP)
Makabayan Pilipinas
Migrante International
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
Partido ng Mangagawa (Labor Party - Philippines)
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK)
Society of Transexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP)
Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS)
Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, Inc. Manila Office
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB)
Women's Dayoff
World March of Women Pilipinas
Regional Organizations
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Asia Pacific (CATWP)
Endorsed by:
Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD)
Individual Signatories
Rebecca Lozada

jueves, 14 de junio de 2012

The Heroines of the Arab World

Twelve women challenging their societies to change the status quo.


Sixteen-year-old Amina Filali became a cause célèbre for Moroccan women's rights activists when shecommitted suicide by swallowing rat poison after she was forced to marry her rapist in accordance with a court order. Her act triggered a human rights campaign -- including a sit-in outside Parliament, a petition, and a Facebook group -- to repeal Article 475 in Morocco's penal code, which allows men to escape punishment for crimes if they wed their victims. One week after Filali died in the northwestern city of Larache, hundreds of women's rights advocates filled the streets in the capital, Rabat, to protest the retrograde law.

Computer security consultant Manal al-Sharif made headlines in May 2011 when a colleague filmed her driving a car in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, as part of her advocacy campaign for Saudi women's right to drive. The video was posted on YouTube and Facebook, and it soon spread like wildfire. Four days later, about 600,000 people had already watched the footage. Although officials jailed her for nine days as punishment for breaking the prohibition on female drivers in Saudi Arabia -- the only country in the world with such a ban -- her actions successfully galvanized a rare bout of popular protest in the kingdom. On June 17, several dozen Saudi women got behind the wheel to repeat Sharif's act of defiance.

On March 9, 2011, Salwa el-Husseini, Samira Ibrahim, and Rasha Abdel Rahman were just peaceful protesters at a sit-in at Tahrir Square -- a small group of thousands who had gathered to protest against the ruling military regime. But that changed when they were arrested by the Egyptian military along with 15 other female activists, strip-searched, and subjected to "virginity tests" in which the hymen is forcefully penetrated to check for blood. The three broke long-standing social taboos by speaking out about their treatment: Husseini agreed to be filmed as she recountedwhat happened at a news conference, while Abdel Rahman gave graphic details of her abuse in court. Although a military tribunal cleared the doctor who performed the tests of all charges, Ibrahim won a major victory when a Cairo administrative court heard her case and banned virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons.

Pediatric consultant Najwa Fituri is in charge of treating premature babies at the al-Jalaa maternity hospital in Benghazi, Libya, but when the revolution against Muammar al-Qaddafi descended into a bloody civil war, she heeded a new calling: smuggling drugs to treat anti-Qaddafi fighters. A member of the female empowerment group Women for Libya, Fituri hopes to be part of a new generation of Libyan women. "If [women] are qualified, they should be leaders of Libya," she told the BBC in December. "Everyone has the right to dream."

Without the perseverance of human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouneh, the world would be even more in the dark about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's killings and torture of civilian protesters. Her daily reporting on the Assad regime's atrocities -- which she posted to her website, the Syrian Human Rights Information Link -- served as a critical source for foreign media. Although forced to go into hiding in March 2011 after the government accused her of being a foreign agent, Zaitouneh was awarded the Anna Politkovskaya Award for her human rights activism in a conflict zone, and she was a co-recipient of last year'sSakharov Prize for Freedom of ThoughtForeign Policy also honored her in 2011 as one of its top 100 Global Thinkers. "I'm very proud to be Syrian and to be part of these historical days, and to feel all that greatness inside my people," she said in a video accepting the award. "We highly appreciate all the help … of those who supported us in any way around the world."
As one of the few Tunisian activists to blog using her real name under the regime of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, linguistics teacher Lina Ben Mhenni was risking her safety even before the uprising against the Tunisian regime began. Although herblog -- as well as her Facebook and Twitteraccounts -- were censored under Ben Ali, Ben Mhenni forged ahead with her reporting during the early weeks of the uprising as the only blogger present in the cities of Kasserine and Regueb when government forces violently cracked down on protesters in the Sidi Bouzid region, regularly posting photos and videos of the violence. Today, Ben Mhenni continues to publicly condemn the widespread corruption in the current government. "The majority of young people do not feel any change at all and I think that they are right," she wrote in an October 2011 op-ed for the Guardian. "To talk of a revolution we have to cut totally with the past and with the old regime."

The sharp rhetoric of Asmaa Mahfouz played a crucial role in galvanizing the Egyptian revolution's massive protests in Tahrir Square. The activist and co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement famously posted avideo to YouTube challenging Egyptians to join her in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011, to protest the human rights abuses of President Hosni Mubarak's regime: "If you think yourself a man, come with me on Jan. 25. Whoever says women shouldn't go to protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me."
Mahfouz may have helped topple Mubarak, but she still attracted the ire of the military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), that came after him. In August 2011, she was court-martialed by the SCAF and charged with inciting violence, disturbing public order, and spreading false information through social media. Later that year Mahfouz was honored for her persistence when the European Parliament named her a co-recipient of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Tal al-Molouhi symbolized the Syrian regime's repressive policies long before the revolutions of the Arab Spring. A high school student who blogged poems and wrote articles advocating for Palestinian causes and a more just Syria, Molouhi was arrested in 2009 for her writing. The Arab blogosphere denounced her arrest as an example of the capricious and fanatical crackdown on free speech in Syria. In February 2011, Molouhi -- who was brought into court chained and blindfolded -- was sentenced to five years in prison. "This is my Homeland, in which I have a palm tree, a drop in a cloud, and a grave to protect me," says one of herpoems. "My master: I would like to have power even for one day to build the 'republic of feelings.'"

Known as the "Mother of the Revolution" in Yemen, journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman emerged as a leader of the Yemeni protest movement after Tunisian activists ousted their president, Ben Ali, in January 2011. In addition to organizing student rallies in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Karman led mass protests calling for the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime, including an Egypt-inspired "Day of Rage." A grassroots organizer and the chairwoman of Women Journalists Without Chains, Karman wasawarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, becoming the first Yemeni to win the prize and the youngest Peace Prize laureate.

Asma al-Ghoul is not your typical Palestinian activist. A secular feminist who writes for the Ramallah-based newspaper Al-Ayyam and blogs at AsmaGaza, Ghoul is known for her vocal denunciations of violations of civil rights in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, catching the media's attention when she walked on a public Gaza beach with a mixed-gender group in 2009. When she publicly denounced her uncle -- a senior Hamas military leader -- in an article, he threatenedto kill her. After she was beaten by Hamas security forces in March 2011 while trying to cover rallies calling for Hamas to reconcile with Fatah, an international outcry prompted the Hamas government to apologize and promise an investigation.