Betreff: Food, water and ... HUMAN RIGHTS!
Von: "Oxfam America"
Datum: Thu, 09 Dec 2004 21:49:53 GMT

Oxfam America

What first comes to mind when you think of Oxfam? Emergency relief, probably. Or maybe people digging wells and building schools. Right? But do you think of less concrete things? Concepts like rights and security?

Food and water address short-term needs. But in order to live truly full lives – free from oppression and abuse – and participate in long-term solutions to hunger and poverty, people need to exercise their basic human rights. Unfortunately, far too many people don't even know that they have these rights, let alone how to use them. But Oxfam has, for decades, been funding and working with partner organizations that introduce people to human rights and then help them exercise these rights.

Last week, for example, we told you about the Oxfam partners in Peru that helped stop mining exploration on the environmentally sensitive Cerro Quilish mountain. We are pleased to announce that tomorrow, International Human Rights Day, the president of one such partner, GRUFIDES, will be presented with a prestigious human rights award.

In celebration of Human Rights Day, we're revisiting three Oxfam partners and the tremendous human rights work they're doing around the world. On this important day, we hope that you find these profiles both educational and inspirational.

Defending 'Earthrights' in Burma

Oxfam adheres to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which entitles all people to:

A Secure Livelihood
Making a living means having access to the resources needed for your work; the skills to produce enough to meet your needs while respecting the environment; and a market to sell your wares. Oxfam helps people move beyond poverty towards greater security.

Basic Social Services
Poor people and minority groups are often the first to be excluded from basic health services, clean water, and an education. Oxfam helps peopel learn how to advocate for the basic services they need to survive and build a better future.

Oxfam promotes the right of every individual to live free from violence, conflict, and fear.

A Say in Decisions that Affect Them
Oxfam believes that all people have a right to be heard. To this end, we help people become informed, authoritative, and effective spokespeople, and influence decisions that affect their lives.

An Identity
Focusing specifically on women, indigenous populations, minorities, and other oppressed groups, Oxfam helps people value themselves and be respected as equal human beings.

Fishing on the
Salween River. Recently, the Chinese premier halted the
construction of several dams on the Salween in China. This
success was achieved by a coalition of Oxfam partners working in
Burma, Thailand, and China. [Photo: South East Asia Rivers
Network]Burma is one of the five poorest countries in the world. In an attempt to alleviate financial woes, the government is exploiting its forests, water, oil – and its people. For more than a decade, EarthRights International (ERI) has been documenting the combination of environmental and human rights abuses – or earthrights – that plague Burma: ethnic persecution, destructive mining and logging operations, and the forced labor that powers such projects.

ERI maintains headquarters in Thailand – out of which it conducts fact-finding missions, research, student trainings, and lobbying activities – and in Washington, D.C., where it advocates for an international response to documented abuses. Read more about ERI and staffer Oum Kher, himself a refugee from Burma, who is working to expose these abuses and to salvage hope for Burma's future.

Protecting Labor Rights in the US
CIW protestors at a rally
earlier this year. [Photo: Andrew Miller/Oxfam]The exploitation and abuse of farmworkers is, unfortunately, a recurring story across the US. But the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has worked tirelessly on several different fronts to help change this. CIW helps farmworkers peacefully confront growers who abuse them. They have also helped federal authorities prosecute the most egregious labor abuses, including cases of modern-day slavery in the fields of Florida.

In the boardroom, CIW, with Oxfam's help, is challenging Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands to pay a fair price for Florida-grown tomatoes. After intense grassroots and institutional pressure, Yum was forced earlier this year to publicly address serious labor problems in their supply chain. The Oxfam America eCommunity added its voice, sending more than 18,000 emails to the Yum CEO.

The purchasing practices of institutional buyers like Yum contribute significantly to the abuses documented in Oxfam's report: "Like Machines in the Fields: Workers without Rights in American Agriculture". Meanwhile, the campaign presses on.

Policing Gender Violence in El Salvador
El Salvador has a high rate of violence against woman. Worse yet, women must call on the aid of a police department in which abuse against women is commonplace. In a recent survey, a staggering 98% of female police officers said they had been victims of on-the-job physical, sexual, and/or psychological harassment.

But this statistic should soon change. Last fall, Oxfam partner CEMUJER secured a momentous commitment from El Salvador's National Civilian Police (PNC) to conduct gender sensitivity training with key personnel. The goal is to help PNC officers learn to respect their co-workers and families, and carry this respect into the larger society. Read more.

Thanks as always for your support. If you have comments, concerns, stories, or questions — please email us!


David Moore
Internet Campaign Organizer
Oxfam America