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Activism Guide

    January 16, 2019

    The Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) encourages refugee claimants to cross the border unsafely and irregularly, putting lives at risk. With the arrival of winter, it’s important to take action now.

    The STCA requires that refugee claimants who arrive in Canada or the US request protection in the first country in which they arrive. However, it does not bar refugee claimants from seeking protection in Canada if they do not enter Canada at an official border crossing. 

    In response to the harsh, xenophobic immigration polices of President Donald Trump’s administration, many refugee claimants have turned to Canada for protection. Because they would be sent back to the United States if they make a claim for refugee protection at an official border crossing, many have resorted to crossing the border between official border posts. During the winter months, this is particularly dangerous: people have had amputations due to frostbite, and at least one woman believed to have been attempting to cross the border has died.

    January 10, 2019

    Berta Caceres was a beloved, internationally-recognized defender of Indigenous rights and the environment in Honduras. She received death threats as she led efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro-electric project on the Gualcarque River, considered sacred by Lenca Indigenous communities and vital for their survival in their territory. Berta reported the threats. She was assassinated on March 2, 2016.

    Bringing this horrific crime to justice is vital since impunity only fuels more killings of defenders of land, territory and the environment in Honduras. Indeed, the killings have continued in the three years since Berta’s murder.

    January 10, 2019

    January marks one year since Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez were arrested and sent to a military-run prison without trial, denied the chance to defend themselves against accusations they say are false.

    This injustice happened during a brutal crack-down as thousands of Hondurans took to the streets to protest alleged electoral fraud by the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez. Security forces shot at and beat protestors. Dozens were killed or badly injured. Others, like Edwin and Raul, were detained and denied their rights to due process. The crackdown was documented by Amnesty International in our report Protest Prohibited. 

    After one year in a maximum security prison for violent criminals, without adequate food, water, sanitation, medical attention or access to daylight and exercise, both men have lost considerable weight and their health is in danger. There is no end in sight as Amnesty has documented multiple irregularities and serious violations of their right to defend themselves.

    January 09, 2019

    January 17th marks the one year anniversary of the Canadian government's announcement to create an independent Ombudsperson that would enable people harmed by Canadian companies overseas to have access to justice in Canada.

    We celebrated the announcement, thrilled that Canada would finally be "Open for Justice". Yet one whole year has passed, and the Ombudsperson is still not in place! Equally concerning is whether or not the office will be granted the powers it needs to be effective. The  Canadian government did promise a year ago that Canada's Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise would be independent, transparent, and have the power and tools necessary to conduct effective investigations. But we are still waiting to see whether they follow through on their word.

    We need your help! 

    January 09, 2019

    On Friday, March 8th, mark International Women’s Day by celebrating women human rights defenders and taking action to end gender-based discrimination and violence.

    January 09, 2019

    DROP PROJECT DRAGONFLY

    Google publicly exited the search engine market in China in 2010, citing restrictions to freedom of expression online. Since then, the Chinese government has strengthened its controls over the internet and intensified its crackdown on freedom of expression. 

    Indicating a reversal in strategy, Google is now preparing to re-enter the Chinese search engine market, and is developing a new, search engine app codenamed “Dragonfly” that would facilitate China’s online censorship and surveillance. This would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights, and a dark day for internet freedom as it would legitimize China’s model of internet repression for other governments and set a precedent for tech companies compromising human rights in exchange for access to new markets.

    It has been reported in the media that Google is now planning to drop its Dragonfly project. While this is amazing news, it isn't confirmed yet, so we intend to keep the pressure on until it it official.

    January 09, 2019

    On Saturday, January 19th, be part of a global movement expressing outrage at ongoing gender-based rights violations and demonstrate solidarity with women human rights defenders by taking part in a Women’s March in your community.

    January 09, 2019
    Steve Fobister being interviewed by APTN at blockade cabin

    “You look at the lake, it looks good, it looks clean, the fish look all right. How to believe that something like that could turn against you?” – the late Steve Fobister Sr., former Chief of the Grassy Narrows First Nation, quoted in the Toronto Star

    “Steve always wanted the government to admit that he had been poisoned by mercury. Now we take up his fight to honour him.” – the family of Steve Fobister, Sr. 

    In October, Steve Fobister Sr., a leader and spokesperson for the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, died after a long struggle with mercury poisoning. He was only 66. His family and friends are clear that the struggle he helped lead is far from over.

    For more than five decades, the people of Grassy Narrows have been forced to live with the devastating consequences of a government policy that allowed massive amounts of mercury to be dumped into their river system. It’s no coincidence that Grassy Narrows, whose traditions and economy revolve around fishing, faces the worst community health crisis in Canada.

    January 09, 2019
    Petitions being delivered to the BC legislature

    Last Fall, the BC government was able to convince a provincial judge to allow construction of the Site C dam to continue even though a fundamental Treaty rights challenge is still before the courts.

    The United Nations’ top anti-racism body has now responded to the injunction decision by calling on the federal and provincial governments to immediately suspend construction of Site C. The letter from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is absolutely clear that, despite the injunction decision, a halt to construction is absolutely necessary to prevent permanent harm to the human rights of Indigenous peoples in the Peace River region.

    The Committee also called on the federal and provincial governments to seek independent, expert advice on how to fulfill their human rights obligations, including the right of free, prior and informed consent.

    October 25, 2018

    West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations have been forced to launch a court case to protect the Peace River Valley from the destructive Site C dam and uphold their Treaty Rights. By pledging to be a “Witness for the Peace”,  you are letting  the government know that you want them to uphold their Treaty obligations and that you care about  what they argue in court on behalf of the "public interest". Site C Tabling  Resources Included.

    September 10, 2018

    Erlendy Cuero, pictured above testifying to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, knows only too well how dangerous it is to speak up for human rights in Colombia. Her brother Bernardo (left), equally vocal in defending the rights of much-targeted Afro-Colombians, was gunned down last June. As Erlendy pressed for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, she received death threats.  Deadly violence is ever present. In April, gunmen shot and killed two of Bernardo's sons.

    Such atrocities were supposed to end with the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and insurgents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yet since then, assassinations of community leaders have increased, not decreased. Every 11 days, someone in Colombia is killed for defending human rights. A frequent target are leaders of Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino communities seeking to defend their land rights in areas of economic interest. Colombian authorities are failing to protect them and allowing the perpetrators to get away with murder.

    Now is a crucial moment to press for action.

    September 07, 2018

    More than 59,000 supporters of Amnesty Canada have raised their voices to demand justice in Honduras since beloved Indigenous rights defender Berta Caceres was gunned down in her home on March 2, 2016. The assassination was perpetrated less than a year after the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her courageous work challenging the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam and its impact on the land and water so vital to the rights and survival of Lenca Indigenous communities. Berta had repeatedly denounced threats she said came from people working for Desarollos Energeticos SA (DESA), the company developing the dam project. The government failed to act to protect Berta.

    September 06, 2018

    September is a month of excitement in Canada as students begin a new school year.

    In Mexico, September 26 marks four years since police attacked a bus carrying 43 students from a rural college in Ayotzinapa who were studying to become teachers. Police took the students away. They were never seen again.

    Their forced disappearance remains the most notorious example of a massive, ongoing epidemic of disappearances in Mexico - more than 37,000 people who were taken away and "vanished" - amidst state corruption and collusion with organized crime. The official investigation has been so deeply flawed as to be accused of covering up the involvement of the military and powerful authorities.

    But now there is potential for truth, justice and finding the whereabouts of the students.

    July 19, 2018

    Share your story of human rights activism! 

    July 11, 2018

    An appeal for action from Maude Barlow, Alex Neve and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip from Witness for the Peace 

    In just a few days, a B.C. court will begin hearings on one of the most important legal challenges of our time.

    The court case — initiated by the West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations — may be British Columbia’s best hope for stopping the massively destructive and wasteful Site C dam.

    A vital, irreplaceable cultural and ecological landscape is at stake. But the legal challenge to Site C is about more than the fate of the Peace River Valley. Fundamental issues of human rights and reconciliation are also at stake.

    The federal and provincial governments have already admitted that they deliberately ignored their Treaty rights obligations when they decided to flood the Peace Valley. Such blatant disregard for the rights of Indigenous peoples has no place in any country genuinely committed to reconciliation.

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