Tag Archives: Human Rights / Civil Rights

Protesters sit at the site of the explosion at the Brazilian Vale mining dam, demanding an extension of aid | Instant News

BRUMADINHO, Brazil, Oct 22 (Reuters) – About 150 demonstrators staged a sit-in at the administration building of the Brazilian miners Vale in the city of Brumadinho on Thursday to protest their treatment of nearly two years after a deadly mining waste dam collapsed there, killing some 270 people. people.

The protesters are demanding an extension of emergency aid payments for about 100,000 people affected by the disaster, while also alleging that miners have failed to provide clean drinking water after mining waste contaminated local water sources.

The activists, who ended their protests on Thursday afternoon, said aid payments were essential to support low-income communities and river dwellers whose livelihoods were destroyed by the dam collapse.

The protesters, many wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, sit at the entrance to the Vale administration complex holding signs that read, “Luck doesn’t mean life” and “Our fight is to live.”

The demonstrations came as Vale attempted to repair the company after the January 2019 disaster, a second fully or partially controlled mining waste dam collapsed in a span of four years.

Vale returned its dividend payments earlier this year, although litigation over the company’s role in the disaster is still pending.

Vale said in a statement that it had distributed 910,000 liters (240,397 gallons) of water and continued to offer a normal supply. The miner said it was committed to full compensation for the damage and respected the right to protest as long as people were able to enter and leave the complex.

A representative for protest organizers told Reuters by telephone that Vale had cut in half emergency payments from the full minimum wage to those affected. Vale said it still pays the full minimum wage in the agreement that runs through October.

Protest organizers said Vale wanted to reduce payments by up to 25% of the minimum wage. Provisions for an extension of emergency payments are in negotiations with prosecutors, Vale said. (Reporting by Washington Alves in Brumadinho and Roberto Samora in Sao Paulo; Written by Jake Spring; Editing by Bill Berkrot)


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Brazil’s indigenous leader wins the Robert Kennedy rights award | Instant News

FILE PHOTO: Alessandra, an indigenous Munduruku woman speaking during a press conference calling on the authorities to protect indigenous lands and cultural rights in Brasilia, Brazil 21 November 2019. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Alessandra Korap of the Munduruku tribe in the Amazon was awarded the 2020 Robert F.Kennedy Human Rights award for her efforts to defend the rights, ancestral lands and culture of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

The award will be presented to him by the daughter of former US senator, Kerry Kennedy, in a virtual ceremony from Washington where former US Secretary of State John Kerry will speak.

“This gift is not for myself, it is for all Brazilian indigenous people who are screaming for help,” the 36-year-old said in a telephone interview.

The award draws attention to his tribe’s struggle to stop building a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajos River, where Munduruku lives, and gain recognition for their reserved land, he said.

It comes at a time when President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government has “dismantled” health and education services for indigenous people and turned a blind eye to illegal loggers and gold miners who are increasingly attacking protected reserves and destroying forests, he said.

Bolsonaro defended his policy of integrating indigenous people into Brazilian society and lifting them out of poverty.

The president has turned the Funai government’s customary affairs body into a “peasants’ organization” run by men appointed by the agricultural lobby seeking to expand commercial agriculture onto tribal lands, he said.

“This prize has strengthened our goals. We will shout louder, “he said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; edited by Jonathan Oatis


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The Pakistani opposition started countrywide protests to overthrow the government | Instant News

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Supporters of Pakistan’s opposition party gathered at a stadium in the city of Gujwanwala on Friday to start a country-wide protest campaign to topple Prime Minister Imran Khan, whom they accuse the military installed in 2018 of rigged. election.

Nine major opposition parties formed a joint platform called the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) last month to initiate national agitation against the government.

Khan, who rules on an anti-corruption platform and denies the army is helping him win, said on Friday he was not afraid of the opposition campaign, which aims to blackmail him into ending corruption cases against their leaders.

“We are out for the rule of law,” said Maryam Nawaz, daughter and political heir of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, speaking from the top of an SUV showered with rose petals as she departed for Gujwanwala from near Lahore.

“Our fight is against injustice, unemployment and price increases all the time.”

The Pakistan Muslim League Sharif-Nawaz (PML-N) is the main opposition party.

Sharif, a longtime critic of the military, was fired by the Supreme Court in 2017 on corruption charges and went to London last November for medical treatment. He blamed the generals and judges for what he said were false accusations.

Pakistan’s powerful military has repeatedly denied meddling in politics.

The protest campaign was launched at a time when Pakistan was experiencing an economic crisis, with inflation touching double digits and growth negative. The next general election is scheduled for 2023.

“Come on, Imran go. Your time is up! ”Shouted tens of thousands of opposition supporters gathered at the Gujwanwala stadium hours before the leader arrived.

Bilawal Bhutto, son of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who heads the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and a religious leader, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, led separate rallies to join the main gathering.

“The time has come for the puppet government to leave,” said Bhutto.

Written by Asif Shahzad; Edited by Alex Richardson


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Australian Chinese citizens complained of ‘McCarthyism’ during the investigation | Instant News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Three Australians of ethnic Chinese who were asked to condemn the Chinese Communist Party when they appeared before a government investigation into diaspora issues have criticized the incident as “McCarthyism”.

The Senate Committee is examining issues facing the diaspora community, and three Chinese Australians have been invited to attend the hearing on Wednesday.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization has informed investigations that the diaspora community is often the victim of interference by foreign governments, and threats have been made against individuals based on their political opinions.

Australia has strained diplomatic relations with China, its biggest trading partner, and there has been intense domestic political debate and media coverage of allegations that the Chinese government was involved in foreign interference.

There is also concern that the Chinese community in Australia is experiencing racism as a by-product.

Liberal Senator for Tasmania, Eric Abetz, known for his hawkish views in China, asked three Chinese Australians to “tell me if they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship”, a transcript shows.

Yun Jiang, a China analyst who previously worked in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet, spoke with the committee about the “toxic environment for Chinese-Australians involved in the current public policy debate”.

“Senator Abetz continues to interrogate each of us based on our views of the Chinese Communist Party, as a kind of test of loyalty,” Jiang said in a statement sent to Reuters on Thursday.

Wesa Chau, the Deputy Mayor of the Labor Party for Melbourne, said “in the McCarthyism that provoked the race, I and two other Chinese-Australian witnesses were subjected to tests of public loyalty”. Chau is a board member of the Australian government’s National Foundation for Australia-China Relations.

“McCarthyism” refers to US Senator Joseph McCarthy’s heavily maligned campaign in the 1950s to expose Communist sympathizers in the United States, including in Hollywood and the arts.

Osmond Chiu of the Per Capita think tank wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that he was born in Australia, and refused to answer Abetz’s question because it was degrading.

Senator Abetz has been approached for comment.

Commissioner for Racial Discrimination Chin Tan wrote in submitting to the inquiry that a national anti-racism strategy is needed to protect Australia’s multicultural society because Australia’s national security also depends on its capacity to protect unity.

Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Edited by Michael Perry


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EXCLUSIVE-Brazil’s public sector is hit by lawsuits for labor violations COVID-19 | Instant News

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Dozens of local authorities and state-owned companies in Brazil face lawsuits accused of failing to protect workers including doctors and nurses from COVID-19, data obtained exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. reveal.

Labor prosecutors filed 69 lawsuits against city governments and state-controlled companies such as Banco do Brasil SA in the first half of this year for reported labor abuses due to the coronavirus such as not providing workers with protective equipment.

Local governments and other public sector bodies were the target of 30% of the 230 labor lawsuits related to the pandemic – more than any private sector industry except transportation – according to data obtained through the Access to Information Act.

The data has raised concerns about a lack of oversight by some of Brazil’s major companies as well as local authorities largely responsible for running the public health system in a country with the second highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the world.

Brazil has recorded more than 4.7 million cases since the pandemic began, with at least 143,000 deaths.

“(The government’s) actions are not only chaotic, but also disastrous. And they have to take responsibility for this, ”said Joao Domingos, head of the Brazilian Civil Service Confederation (CSPB).

“(The city government) is less sensitive so we need to take them to court for basics like maintaining the health of their employees,” added Domingos, whose organization represents more than 1,000 public trade unions.

Brazil’s labor secretariat – which is in the economy ministry – said it was not in charge of the public sector and referred inquiries to the secretariat for performance management and personnel. The division did not reply for comment.

Some 7,500 complaints about workplace abuses were filed against public bodies in the first eight months of this year – up from 7,200 for all of 2019 – labor prosecution data show. It is not known how many complaints have been linked to the pandemic.

“A large number of lawsuits stem from the fact that state entities consistently fail (to protect workers)”, said Ileana Neiva, head of Conap, the prosecutor’s division responsible for dealing with labor abuses in the public sector.

Labor prosecutors tend to agree and agree not to take further action if the employer addresses the issues raised, but if a case reaches court, the judge can sentence and fine the employer.

In addition, a labor judge can refer the case to an ordinary prosecutor who can then initiate a criminal investigation.

A total of 1,652 lawsuits were filed by labor prosecutors in the first half of 2020, so around 14% were related to COVID-19.


Some 30 municipalities have been prosecuted, most of them accused of failing to provide adequate protective equipment for health workers after COVID-19 hit Brazil in March, according to the data.

In some cases, public hospitals provide equipment rations among staff, while in other situations sub-standard face masks are provided, according to Conap’s Neiva.

An anesthetist in Belem – the capital of the northern state of Para and one of the governments facing lawsuits – said he had to buy his own face mask and ended up falling ill with COVID-19.

“I paid a heavy price, but I survived,” said Wilson Machado, 65. He works at the Mario Pinotti hospital where staff protested in April about a lack of protective gear.

At least 59 health workers in Belem have died from COVID-19 to date, according to local government data.

A lawsuit against Belem was filed on April 16 and the following day a judge issued an order ordering the city to supply medical equipment to staff until a final decision was reached.

In July, the Belem administration provided documents to the court to show they complied with the order, but prosecutors said the filing actually proved shortcomings were still ongoing.

“This is a demonstration of how … the state is behaving in terms of health care,” said prosecutor Rejane Alves, referring not only to Para but also to local government responses across Brazil.

Public hospitals have been understaffed and underfunded due to years of economic hardship, prosecutors said.

“The issue predates the pandemic, (which has) only clarified the true scenario, for both the population and health professionals,” said Alves, who is handling the ongoing lawsuit.

Responding to inquiries from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Belem administration denied failing to provide equipment, saying it had proven it was supplying medical facilities on a weekly basis.


At least eight state-owned companies have also been sued – from Banco do Brasil to Sao Paulo-based railway company CPTM.

Banco do Brasil was sued in May and accused of not giving face masks to security guards in Rio de Janeiro.

The bank denies the claim, and says it is appealing an order ordering him to provide a mask.

CPTM was sued by prosecutors in April on the grounds of not providing protective gear and asking staff who said they felt ill to show doctors notes if they did not show up for work.

“We were made to work because we were essential workers,” said Eluiz Alves, president of the railway workers’ union in Sao Paulo.

The union said at least four CPTM employees had died from COVID-19 to date.

Earlier this month, CPTM was ordered by a judge to allow its staff to skip work if sick without a doctor’s note but was exempted from failing to provide protective gear. The company said it would appeal the court’s ruling on the doctor’s letter.

Prosecutor Marcelo Freire said he considered the lawsuit successful because working conditions at the company had improved. He is now focused on several other cases related to the pandemic, some involving public bodies and state-owned companies.

“I have a lot of coronavirus in my folder. Lots of them.” (Reported by Fabio Teixeira @ffctt; Edited by Kieran Guilbert and Belinda Goldsmith. Please pay tribute to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity, covering the lives of people around the world who struggle to live free or fair. news.trust.org)


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