This Wednesday in our Amnesty meeting we wrote letters to the President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil urging her to work for the rights of the indigenous peoples of Brazil whose lands are being destroyed for land development and extraction of natural resources.
Enumerable tribes have already been wiped out- so it is essential we continue to urge the Brazilian government to respect these indigenous peoples’ rights.
The Balkan Floods: What’s going on?
The recent floods in the Balkan regions of Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia has affected a huge portion of the population, with 45,000 people having been evacuated and a death toll potentially ranging from 35 to several hundred- although this figure is only an estimate as the infrastructure of the area has been affected so severely. It is estimated that in the region 350,000 are currently living without clean water and sanitation. There is a huge threat from the spread of infectious diseases as well as the shifting of land mines from the 1990s era. The images and videos on the internet are horrifying. These floods are the worst to be experienced in the region in over 120 years!
From a human rights perspective, the individuals of this region are lacking many of the essentials to survive due to forces beyond their control. It is hoped that the international community will continue to act in response to this crisis.
What can you do in EXETER to help?
This is a message sent round by members of RAG:
“With a large international community at Exeter University many of whom are directly or indirectly linked to the region, we are hoping that, with your help, Exeter Uni can help to relieve the pressure in the region.
Over the next week RAG will be raising awareness of the floods so that students who have not heard about this will be aware that such a travesty has hit the Balkan region. We will be collecting donations of clothes (particularly baby clothes), sanitary equipment (toothbrushes, toothpaste, disinfectant), and other personal hygiene equipment which will be sent to all three countries. We will also be placing Charity Boxes around campus to help raise funds to be donated to the Red Cross Emergency Fund which is currently working very hard in the region”
So please try and help, visit the Forum and act in solidarity with the inhabitants of the Balkans.
Last Wednesday at our Amnesty meeting, we wrote letters to the Government of Laos, to ask them to give Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang a fair trial. Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang were not given legal representation and their sentences were written before the trials.
If you are interested in writing a letter to the Prime Minister of Laos too, there is information about the case below and an address to send your letters to.
Exeter Uni Amnesty International Society Committee 2014/15
- President: Rob Bental [rb383]
- Vice-President: Ellen Boivin [eyyb201]
- Campaigns Officer: Rachel Farr [rf302]
- Fundraising Officer: Hannah Rixon [hsr206]
- Human Rights Update Editors:
- (1) Abi Hansford [ah479]
- (2) Georgie Siriwardena [gs351]
- Publicity Officer: Lucia Jamrichová
- Treasurer: Fong Khei [fkm206]
- Secretary: Chiun Tiah (Jordan) [tct204]
- Social Secretary: Sophie Lewis
- Letter-writing Officer: Matt Male [mjnm202]
Photo of Amnesty International Society Committee 2014/15 (minus the HRU Editors- Abi and Georgie)
Geoff Loane is head of office for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Belfast. His responsibilities include ICRC activities in Northern Ireland and managing relations with the devolved government and a range of stakeholders. He came to Exeter on the 29th of April 2014 to give this talk on humanitarian action as a means of addressing issues and dilemmas which arise in conflict.
The two main tensions in the operational challenges of humanitarian law are protection and human dignity. Geoff Loane emphasised that the main role of the Red Cross is the protection of human dignity of all victims of a conflict. He repeatedly expressed in the sentiment that the ICRC (International Commission of the Red Cross) is a neutral organisation in that they say they will go everywhere and help ALL victims, regardless of which side they may be a part of in a conflict.
The ICRC works to treat THE HURT. Not one particular hurt.
This neutrality of the ICRC was written into the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as “it grants the ICRC the right to offer its services to the parties to the conflict”. As Loane explained, this is why often it is dangerous to cross over into policy debates or to begin trying to justify one side of a conflict over the other- as their mandate is to treat victims of any side of a conflict. Even if some victims were members of Al-Shabaab for example- the Red Cross’ only criteria when assessing this victim would be how to protect this individual’s dignity.
The argument of the ICRC is simple and effective. This means their work can be universally accepted. This is essential if the ICRC is able to have a positive impact. Researching further in to what the ICRC do after the lecture, I was impressed at the thorough work they do in order to ensure human dignity. This does not solely cover medical help but also developmental work such as ensuring safe access to water, maintaining and building economic security, as well as dealing with emotional hurts as well as physical hurts- such as the re-tracing family members and restoring links between families who may have been separated in a conflict.
Geoff Loane- Head of Office for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Belfast
International Commission of the Red Cross: http://www.icrc.org/
BBC news: Al-Shabaab: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15336689 )
Geoff Loane: http://www.icrc.org/eng/where-we-work/europe-central-asia/united-kingdom/uk-contacts/index.jsp
Exeter Global Uncertainties: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/events/details/index.php?event=2041