Escalating Attacks on Religious Minorities in Indonesia

A man looks on at a temporary shelter after being driven from his village following a deadly clash with Sunnis (Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images).

A man looks on at a temporary shelter after being driven from his village following a deadly clash with Sunnis (Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images).

Imagine a mob of 500 people with sickles and stones descending on your neighborhood, setting fire to houses, and driving you away from your jobs and community. This occurred in August 2012 in East Java, Indonesia, leaving one member of a Shi’a community dead and injuring dozens. At this time 168 people, including 51 children, are living in a temporary shelter. In the last two weeks, they have been denied clean drinking water and food supplies.

Some of the villagers had previously been harassed by local government officials who told them to convert to Sunni Islam if they wanted to return to their homes.  Now, after eight months, the Sampang district administration has agreed to the demands from anti-Shi’a groups to forcibly evict the Shi’a community from their shelter in a sports complex and remove them from Madura Island in East Java.


Haiti: Three Years After Earthquake, Housing Situation Catastrophic

Camp Grace Village, Carrefour municipality, Port-au-Prince.

Camp Grace Village, Carrefour municipality, Port-au-Prince. © Amnesty International

Three years after the Haiti earthquake the housing situation in the country is nothing short of catastrophic. Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in fragile shelters.

Amnesty International is urging the authorities and the international community to make housing a priority for Haiti reconstruction efforts.

The January 12, 2010 earthquake left more than 200,000 people dead and some 2.3 million homeless. More than 350,000 people currently live in 496 camps across the country. Living conditions in the makeshift camps are worsening – with severe lack of access to water, sanitation and waste disposal – all of which have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera.


Dear Mandela, Dear Obama?

dear mandela

When the South African government begins ‘eradicateing the slums’, Mnikelo, Mazwi, and Zama refuse to be moved. Dear Mandela follows their journey from their shacks to the highest court in the land as they become leaders in a growing social movement.

Within the first minute of Wednesday’s 2012 presidential debate, President Obama mentioned ‘housing’. It is indeed high time that we had a wide and deep discussion about the U.S. housing crisis, the true dimensions of this crisis in terms of human rights, and what realizing the human right to ‘adequate housing’ would look like in one of the world’s wealthiest countries.

But when we think about terrible housing crises, our minds often wander to somewhere outside the United States – the lack of safe housing in Haiti, the crisis facing Roma in Europe or forced evictions in the Occupied Territories.


Rachel Corrie, Michael J. Fox and the Right to Housing

gaza demolitions

The remains of a home in Gaza after it was demolished by Israeli authorities in 2002

A few weeks before she died, Rachel Corrie wrote to her mother from Rafah, Gaza. ‘I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar,’ she said, ‘and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers.’

As we know, she never had the chance to do any of those things again. Following this week’s verdict in the lawsuit filed by Rachel’s parents – accusing the Israeli military of unlawfully killing Rachel, either intentionally or through gross negligence – there has been much crucial discussion of the circumstances surrounding Rachel’s death. It is also imperative that we remember the human rights work of Rachel’s life.


Housing: It's a Wonderful Right

housing it's a wondeful right

This is usually one of my favorite times of the year – the holidays are approaching, the aromas of cinnamon, orange and cranberry are in the air and it’s time to rest and watch old movies on TV. One of those old movies invariably on at this time of year still resonates today — It’s a Wonderful Life. In this 1946 Jimmy Stewart film, a small town in crisis comes together to prevent George Bailey, the benevolent loan man, from being imprisoned at the behest of the millionaire slum landlord Mr. Potter.

In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that  1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.


Record Number of Palestinians Displaced by Unlawful Demolitions

israel palestianian home demolitions

There has been a sharp rise in demolitions of Palestinian homes in 2011 © Amnesty International

Amnesty International, one member of a 20 member strong coalition of major international humanitarian and human rights organizations that work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), issued a joint press release yesterday announcing that there has been a record number of unlawful demolitions by the Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, over the past year, displacing a record number of Palestinian families from their homes and calling on the Middle East Quartet to change their failing approach.

The Middle East Quartet, made up of representatives from the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union, is currently meeting in Jerusalem in an attempt to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Israel's Actions in East Jerusalem May Constitute a War Crime

On Tuesday, Israel did not even try to hide the fact that their plans to accelerate the construction of 2,000 housing units in East Jerusalem – an area considered as ‘occupied’ by the international community thus making the construction illegal – was in response to and part of a series of punishments to be meted out against the Palestinian Authority for their successful pursuit for full membership to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and pursuit for full recognition for the State of Palestine by the United Nations body itself.

What is significant as well, but I’m afraid being over-looked, is that the announcement also came just two days after the well-respected organization, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), submitted a major and precedent-setting report to three of the UN’s Special Rapporteurs claiming that Israel’s actions in East Jerusalem violate international law and may constitute a war crime and asking for an investigation into these practices.