More Peaceful Protesters in World's Largest Democracy's Jails

In recent weeks, human rights and environmental activists have celebrated a court ruling rejecting a massive expansion of the Vedanta Mining Company’s hazardous alumina refinery and toxic red mud pond located in India’s eastern state of Orissa.

However, peaceful protesters continue to face police violence at the site, and 47 villagers have been jailed on false charges, signaling that the saga of Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery is not yet over.

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I Stand With…the Right to Health

planned parenthoodBefore you keep reading, let’s be clear: this blog is about the universal human right to the highest attainable standard of health, the package of services it takes to be well—and the ability to afford it.  It’s also about the implications of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to stop providing grants to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for breast cancer screening.  Because too often, women’s health falls victim to agendas that prevent women from exercising their human rights.  It’s about the big picture.

According to Planned Parenthood, the vast majority of its services are the provision of information and education about health, well-being and sexuality; prevention of and response to gender-based violence; prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; and family planning counseling and supplies. These services are provided to both men and women, of all ages, of all income levels. They are part of basic health care.

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Repressive Regimes Rejoice, Twitter to Censor Content

twitter bird censoredTwitter dropped quite the shocker last week when it declared its new policy to remove Tweets in certain countries to abide by specific national laws. While a tweet will remain visible to the rest of the world, specific messages will disappear in the target country (e.g., following requests by governments).

The ensuing backlash saw a lot of people screaming “censorship” (ironically, on Twitter). While the first wave of criticism has quickly calmed down, for a human rights watchdog, the announcement is quite alarming:

As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. …. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.

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London Olympics Faces Public Meltdown For Dow Chemical Sponsorship

india bhopal

Indians protest the Bhopal disaster

A commissioner for a body monitoring the sustainability and ethics of the London 2012 Olympics has resigned over its links with Dow Chemical, the company mixed up in one of the worst corporate related human rights disasters of the 20th century.

Meredith Alexander is quitting the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012. It describes itself as an independent body which “monitors and assures the sustainability of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Ms. Alexander, who is Head of Policy for the charity ActionAid, told BBC’s Newsnight why she was resigning:

“I feel I was part of a lobby which legitimized Dow’s claims that it had no responsibility for Bhopal…This is an iconic case. It’s one of the worst abuses of human rights in my generation and I just could not stand idly by.”

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Is Your Cell Phone Funding Human Rights Abuses?

Workers dig at a gold mine in north eastern Congo. (Photo LIONEL HEALING/AFP/Getty Images)

From jewelry to cell phones, global consumers are inadvertently supporting a trade in minerals that perpetuates horrific human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding areas.  But we have a chance to break this link – by using transparency as a tool to promote and protect human rights.

Last year, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Within this landmark law is a provision that addresses an ongoing activity at the intersection of business and human rights: the trade and mining of minerals from Africa.

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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.

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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.

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Join Amnesty's Inaugural Forum on Women's Rights Online

xx factor

Violence against women and girls and other forms of gender discrimination devastate the lives of millions of women and do not distinguish among nation, culture, or creed.

One in three women worldwide has been beaten, raped, or abused in her lifetime. Maternal mortality rates have actually risen in the US, and remain scandalously high around the world, with a woman dying a pregnancy-related death every 90 seconds. Lack of access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care contributes to maternal mortality, sexually transmitted infections and other ill-health outcomes. Women continue to suffer disproportionately during armed conflict, accounting for 90% of all civilian casualties.

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Horror and Hope in Kenya's Informal Settlements

Man surveys the wreckage of his home

Man surveys the wreckage of his home

By Mariah Ortiz, Kenya Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

Imagine you are sleeping in your bed, and suddenly you hear the sounds of a bulldozer outside your window.  You have to run outside to avoid being crushed.  You escape, but your home is flattened before your eyes . . .

Now imagine that you are walking home, and the sewer suddenly ignites.  You cry out as people around you burst into flames . . .

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(S)Hell In The Niger Delta: Satellite Images Document Oil Spills

Bodo Nigeria Before-After

Right: (4 December 2006): A false-color image of the waterways around Bodo. Healthy vegetation appears bright red. Left: (26 January 2009): This image, taken during the second oil spill in Bodo, shows vegetation death concentrated mainly near the river and its tributaries. (c) 2011 GeoEye and Digital Globe (Produced by AAAS).

Newly released satellite images visualize the devastating impact of the 2008 oil spills in Bodo, Nigeria, part of a pattern of destruction by oil companies in the region.

The images from 2006, 2009 and 2011 document the destruction of large swathes of vegetation near Bodo’s riverbanks. The true and false-color satellite images show rainbow slicks in the water ways, discoloration of the intertidal zone and vegetation death around Bodo. Three years after the oil spills, the pollution is still visible in the images.

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