Drought, Disappearances, Disarray in Zimbabwe as President Mugabe Marks Another Birthday

Itai Dzamara, Zimbabwean journalist, peaceful pro-democracy activist and leader of the protest group Occupy Africa Unity Square, disappeared on 9 March 2015 in Harare.

Itai Dzamara, Zimbabwean journalist, peaceful pro-democracy activist and leader of the protest group Occupy Africa Unity Square, disappeared on 9 March 2015 in Harare.

“I still have hope. I have forgiven the abductors. But I want to know where is Itai and what have they done to him. I will not rest until I know.”

Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe for 36 years, turns 92 this month. His birthday celebrations are known as lavish occasions; last year his guests dined on baby elephant. This year, reports are the big event will occur this weekend in a stadium with a purported planned budget of $800,000. Mugabe’s personal photographer states he is planning a concert, a bash dubbed “Well done, Bob,” to honor Mugabe and his contributions. The festivities will occur in the wake of President Mugabe declaring a national emergency due to the drought gripping the region. An estimated 2.4 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid to avoid starvation due to crop failures and livestock deaths. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What do you know about your batteries?

CZGFGpLUkAE1y4H

By Dr. Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt, Director, Human Rights in Business Program, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law 

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. They are in your mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and cameras, and even power electric cars. But did you know that cobalt is a key component of those batteries? Where does cobalt come from? More than half of the world’s cobalt is supplied by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The DRC and conflict minerals probably rings a bell. It’s well-known that the global trade in the 3Ts (tin, tungsten, tantalum) and gold has financed abusive armed groups in the DRC and fueled conflict. While cobalt is not a conflict mineral, artisanal miners mine cobalt in the southern part of the country under extremely dangerous and abusive work conditions, which are similar to the conditions in eastern DRC where conflict minerals are extracted. A new Amnesty report, This is What We Die For, traces the cobalt supply chain from the artisanal miners to the big brands selling electronic devices, and exposes all the governments and companies along the way that have turned a blind eye to the human rights violations suffered by the miners. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Child Labor Behind Smartphones Exposed

Cobalt Mining in the DRC

Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child laborers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today.

The report, This is What We Die For: Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Power the Global Trade in Cobalt, traces the sale of cobalt, used in lithium-ion batteries, from mines where children as young as seven and adults work in perilous conditions.

“The glamorous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage,” said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Nicki Minaj, Here’s Why Angola Should Not Have Your Heart

Ruins, Soba Kapassa, Luanda.

Ruins, Soba Kapassa, Luanda.

Dear Ms. Minaj-

Following your December 19th concert in Luanda, Angola, you tweeted “Angola has my heart.” More importantly, however, you also tweeted a picture of yourself with Isabel dos Santos, daughter of the president of Angola. You refer to Isabel in a comment using the phrase “girl power.”

IMG_2215[1] SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Write for Rights: A Chance to Change Our World

BR_Blog

By Purva Khanapure, Amnesty USA Student Activist Coordinator, Central New Jersey

A few weeks ago, I found myself stressed as I drowned in hours of homework. After deciding to take a break, I began to check my email. I opened a message about Write for Rights, Amnesty International’s largest event, and clicked over to the website to read about this year’s twelve Write for Rights cases.

The case involving young women and girls in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, looked interesting, so I began to dive further in. I learned that in Burkina Faso, thousands of girls and young women are forced into early marriage and must suddenly and unwillingly dedicate their lives to another man. In order for families to collect financial returns by marrying off their daughters and sisters, safety, human rights, and happiness are compromised. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Celebrating from Prison in Angola

CVn3Y1NXIAAcRIv

Marcos Mavungo spent his birthday, December 6th, in prison, where he has been for the past 9 months. He, along with the #Angola15, endured the irony of Angola’s recent 40th independence celebration locked in a cell. Mavungo’s crime was attempting to organize a peaceful protest. The #Angola15 were meeting to discuss non-violent measures to bring governmental changes in civil and human rights freedoms. None of them will be home for Christmas or to celebrate the new year. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Girls Should be Students, not Brides

Shelter for survivors of forced marriage in Kaya city, northeast Burkina Faso.

By Naureen Shameem, Amnesty USA Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

What is it that enables you to make your life your own? Could you meaningfully choose your own life if your sphere of opportunity had been cut off as a child?

Globally, at least 25,000 children are married every day. 1 in 9 marry before the age of 15. Although the prevalence of child marriage worldwide has received more coverage in recent years, the rates remain staggering.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Letter from Shawkan Photojournalist Imprisoned in Egypt

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

Photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was arrested on Wednesday 14 August 2013 as he was taking pictures of the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. He is one of dozens of Egyptian journalists arrested since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013.

This letter was first published by Mada Masr here.

Amnesty International has collected nearly 90,000 signatures worldwide in a petition calling for Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid’s release ahead of his first court session, scheduled for December 12 at Cairo Criminal Court.

Mahmoud Abu Zeid, more popularly known as Shawkan, has written a letter of thanks (below) to all those calling for his freedom.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Every Girl Deserves an Education—Make Sure She Can Get One!

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Education is a human right. It is both a right in itself and also a pathway to the enjoyment of other rights. Education is also an inalienable right for every child, and every child deserves the opportunity to receive one.

SEE THE REST OF THIS POST