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By Sara Mersha
January 29th, 2013
January 28, 2013 was marked around the world as an International Day of Solidarity with Idle No More, a movement sparked in November 2012 by First Nations women in Canada, in resistance to legislative threats to indigenous sovereignty. One particular piece of legislation which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promoting, Bill C-45, would nullify provisions of provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act which since 1882 has mandated consultation and approval by First Nations for projects that could affect waterways on indigenous territories.
Grassroots International supports hands-on solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges: hunger, violations of human rights, climate change and environmental degradation, and economic disparity. During the last year, Grassroots International and our global partners and allies – including small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists – achieved some victories in their struggle to secure the human right to land, water and food for all. Below are just some of the highlights.
In addition to Grassroots International’s role as a grantmaker to social movements across the world, we also understand that financial support alone does not bring about change.
We hear about the dire consequences of misdirected U.S. trade and agriculture policies from our partners around the world – hunger, water and land shortages, environmental degradation, and climate disruption. We are also able see to how organized communities are challenging these problems and offering up effective solutions. Finally, we know that the struggle for social change and justice brings activists into direct confrontation with powerful forces that threaten human rights and livelihoods.
Recently David Bacon, whose work amplifies the voices of those who otherwise might be unheard, shared the story of Lorena Hernandez. Lorena is a single mother and farmworker laboring in California’s agricultural fields. Like so many other women whose stories need to be heard, Lorena describes the physical violence caused by economic exploitation, and hunger.
Globally, activists at the forefront of human rights protection are coming under increased scrutiny and attack by state and non-state actors. Although being a human rights defender is becoming dangerous work, the commitment to human rights promotion and defense amongst activist has not waned. Nowhere is this truer than in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), where our partners have had their offices raided and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
By Sara Mersha
November 21st, 2012
I recently had a chance to interview Grassroots International friend and ally Niaz Dorry, Executive Director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). The organization brings together fishing communities in Grassroots’ own backyard (from southern New England up to Atlantic Canada). As a self-organizing and self-governing organization, NAMA seeks to restore and enhance an enduring marine system supporting a healthy diversity and an abundance of marine life and human uses. NAMA is a member of Grassroots’ the National Family Farm Coalition (a Grassroots’ grantee), which in turn a member and anchor group of the Via Campesina (a Grassroots’ partner). I’m happy to share highlights of this interview during the month of World Fisheries Day (November 21).
The toll Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is taking on Gaza’s population is unimaginable to most Americans, but Twitter is changing that. As information flows from Gaza City, Beit Hanoun, and Khan Younis the pain, suffering, and senseless death of innocent men, women, and children cannot be denied. More than half of the 105 Palestinians killed during the last seven days of this operation have been civilians, including children.
Once again, the steady violence that passes for “normal” in Palestine and Israel has escalated to alarming proportions. After months of rocket exchanges between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the situation rapidly deteriorated in the past 24 hours. Grassroots International joins the growing chorus of voices calling for an end to violence from both sides, a return to negotiations for a just and lasting peace, and enforcement of international human rights and humanitarian law as outlined by the Geneva Conventions.