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Background to the Arms Trade Treaty

Wed, 2014-04-02 22:39
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Protestors call for the release of Papuan political prisoners in Indonesia

Wed, 2014-04-02 18:01

Around 100 protestors demonstrated today outside the Indonesian embassy in London to call for the unconditional and immediate release of all Papuan political prisoners.

Around 100 protestors demonstrated today (2 April) outside the Indonesian embassy in London to call for the unconditional and immediate release of all Papuan political prisoners.

Seventy-six of the protestors were handcuffed and had their mouths taped shut to represent the 76 political prisoners currently being held in Indonesian prisons.

The protest was organized by Tapol, Survival International, Amnesty International and the Free West Papua Campaign.

According to data from Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests more than doubled in 2013 compared to the previous year, and reports of torture and ill treatment of political detainees have increased. West Papua’s tribal people continue to be arrested for peaceful activities and are often charged with treason or incitement, which can carry lengthy prison sentences.

A demonstration today in West Papua about political prisoners was dispersed by the police who fired warning shots. Two students have been arrested.

Wiki Meaga was arrested in November 2010 while he was on the way to the funeral of a relative who had become ill after being tortured by the police. Meaga and eight other Papuans were accused of raising the banned Morning Star flag before they left their village in the Papuan highlands. It is believed that they were tortured after their arrest. Six of the men were found guilty of ‘treason’ and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. The fate of the other three men is unknown.

Dominikus Surabut, a Papuan activist, writer and documentary film maker who was arrested in 2011 sent a message to the protestors in London, saying: "I can’t be with you in person today because I am in jail, but my soul and my spirit are with you. United and strong we will overcome."

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, a Yawanawá Indian from the Brazilian Amazon, who joined Survival International to speak out for indigenous rights also participated in the protest. He said: "As an Amazon Indian I can understand the Papuans’ fight for freedom and justice. The Papuan tribes have suffered racism and violence at the hands of the Indonesian government for over 50 years; this inhumane action has to stop immediately."

Indonesia has occupied Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) since 1963, and more than 100,000 Papuans are believed to have been killed since then.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today: "This is an excellent example of why the current vogue amongst some American ‘popular science’ writers for claiming that the ‘peaceful’ state pacifies ‘violent’ tribes is nonsense. Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua has only been secured through the killing and torture of tens of thousands of tribespeople, who object to their new colonisers. It is one of the world’s longest-standing, and under-reported, gross violations of human rights."


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YMCA faces protest ahead of new workfare scheme

Wed, 2014-04-02 13:36

YMCA England has faced a protest at its London offices over its continued participation in “workfare” schemes that force unemployed people to work without pay.

YMCA England (the Young Men's Christian Association) has faced a protest at its London offices over its continued participation in 'workfare' schemes that force unemployed people to work without pay or lose benefits.

A number of charities and faith groups, as well as private businesses, have refused to take on people who are sent on the schemes.

YMCA, along with the Salvation Army, remains one of the largest Christian charities to continue to be involved.

The protest launched a week of action called by Boycott Workfare, ahead of the introduction of 'Community Work Placements', an extreme form of workfare that will require people to work full-time for free for six months for charities, faith groups or other voluntary organisations.

The scheme is a flagship policy of Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, which he announced at the last Conservative Party conference.

Anti-workfare campaigners paid a surprise visit on Monday (31 March) to the headquarters of YMCA England on Farringdon Road, London. They occupied it with a flashmob singing the song YMCA with the lyrics changed: “Forced to work at the Y-M-C-A”.

Boycott Workfare say they will make the new scheme unworkable and will “stop workfare in its tracks”.

The group has been joined by Christianity Uncut in calling on Christian groups to resist workfare. Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians opposed to the UK government's austerity agenda.

YMCA's use of workfare seems to be at odds with its own public statements and research findings. The organisation published research in March showing that benefit sanctions are forcing young people to cut back on essential items including food, housing costs and toiletries.

But Boycott Workfare says that at least 10 per cent of participants are sanctioned under workfare schemes.

Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA England, has described the impact of sanctions on young people as “disastrous”. Archbishop of York and President of the YMCA Dr John Sentamu has publicly criticised workfare.

Campaigners hope that their pressure will persuade YMCA to join the growing list of charities including Oxfam, Marie Curie, the Children's Society and the Red Cross, who say they will have nothing to do with these schemes that, according to Boycott Workfare, can push people into absolute poverty.

“The brutal impact of the sanctions regime is clear for all to see as the use of foodbanks and loan sharks soars,” said Jim McLaughlin of Boycott Workfare. “Charities should play no part in punitive forced work schemes: being unemployed is not a crime and workfare does not help people find jobs.”

The 'Community Work Placements' are due to launch on 24 April. These will rely heavily on the voluntary and public sector to deliver mandatory placements for unemployed people, of more than twice the maximum community service sentence.

However, the success of the scheme looks far from certain as even major workfare-user the Salvation Army has said it will not take part. The Army's decision is likely to be at least in part due to both internal and external criticism.

McLaughlin added, “Six months' forced unpaid work seems to be too much even for some of the biggest workfare exploiters to stomach. As more and more charities refuse to take part, we can stop workfare in its tracks and undermine another devastating 'flagship' government policy.”

The week of action is expected to bring protests to Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Swansea and Weston-Super-Mare.


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Atrocities fuelled by inaction on Arms Trade Treaty promises

Wed, 2014-04-02 06:46

Millions around the world will continue to suffer the deadly consequences of the poorly regulated global trade in weapons until many more governments bring the Arms Trade Treaty into force.

Millions of people around the world will continue to suffer the deadly consequences of the poorly regulated global trade in weapons until many more governments take rapid steps to bring the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) into force, Amnesty International has warned a year after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the treaty.

On 2 April 2013, a total of 155 states voted in the UN General Assembly to adopt the ATT and 118 states have since signed the treaty, indicating their willingness to eventually bring it into their national law. But 43 of the states that supported the adoption of the treaty last year have yet to take any action whatsoever (see list below).

“Too many governments have been dragging their heels. The list of 43 absent signatures is mostly made up of countries where armed conflicts, violent repression and gun violence are more frequent, yet those states have the most to gain from the treaty. This is a major failure of political leadership,” said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty.

“Remarkably, Kenya, which was part of a group of states that originally called on the UN to back the ATT, has not even signed the treaty.”

Although 17 of the European Union’s 28 member states will ratify the treaty at the UN on 2 April 2014, the total will still fall far short of the 50 ratifications needed for the treaty to enter into force. Up to now, only 13 states worldwide have ratified the ATT.

The ATT has a number of rules intended to enhance human rights protection for hundreds of millions of people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the proliferation and abuse of conventional arms.

If implemented effectively and robustly, the ATT will stop the flow of weapons to countries when it is known they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Implementing the ATT strictly will also require states to assess the risk of transferring arms to another country: states have agreed the transfer will not go forward where there is an overriding risk the weapons could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law.

Several countries – Spain, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Serbia, Iceland, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago – have declared they will implement the treaty’s human rights provisions even before it enters into force.

However, Amnesty is concerned that some states, including EU members, appear to be continuing arms transfers to countries where there is a clear risk they will be used for serious human rights violations and abuses.

For example, as recently as December 2013, the Czech Republic sent tens of thousands of firearms to Egypt’s security forces, who have killed hundreds of protesters during demonstrations following the military’s ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.

“If the EU states now ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty think they still have a licence to carry on doing business as usual by supplying deadly tools to persistent perpetrators of gross human rights violations, it will scupper the effectiveness of the treaty from the outset,” said Brian Wood.

The globally respected human rights NGO has said it will continue to campaign for all states to sign, ratify and rigorously implement the ATT. For the treaty to usher in a truly global regime to limit arms, the major arms producers who remain sceptical, like Canada, Israel and the USA, and arms importers such as Pakistan and Ukraine, will have to ratify along with all of the 43 countries dragging their feet. These states were among the 155 that voted to adopt the treaty at the UN last year.

Major arms exporters China and Russia, who both abstained in last year’s vote, are expected by diplomats to sign the treaty once a large number of states have joined the ATT.


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Cutting air passenger duty likely to add to C02 emissions

Tue, 2014-04-01 18:18

Cutting air passenger duty to encourage international flights to and from Scotland is likely to lead to a rise in damaging CO2 emissions, the climate change minister has admitted.

Cutting air passenger duty to encourage international flights to and from Scotland is likely to lead to a rise in damaging CO2 emissions, Scotland's climate change minister admitted today to Patrick Harvie MSP.

Eighteen months ago the Scottish First Minister told Mr Harvie that the Scottish Government would put forward an environmental impact of its policy of scrapping the duty but until today no figure has been presented.

During a Topical Question at Holyrood on the latest UN report on climate change, on 1 April 2014, Mr Harvie was told by minister Paul Wheelhouse that an internal figure he has seen suggests cutting duty would cause emissions to rise.

The minister also conceded that if emissions from international aviation cause Scotland's carbon footprint to grow, other sectors of the economy will have to provide deeper emissions cuts to compensate.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: "The Scottish Government should be stepping up to take responsibility for the failure to meet the first two annual climate targets but instead it is displaying astonishing recklessness.

"After eighteen months we finally get an admission that cutting taxes for the wealthy aviation industry is not a good idea if we're serious about reducing our climate change impacts.

"Airlines don’t pay a penny of tax on fuel and they are failing to pay for the pollution they create. Making life easier for big business is not a reason to vote Yes; designing a tax system that makes highly profitable businesses pay for their pollution is,” he said.


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WCC congratulates newly elected Syrian patriarch

Tue, 2014-04-01 18:11

Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, newly elected patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, has received an affirmation from the World Council of Churches.

Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, newly elected patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East, has received congratulations and an affirmation of support from the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The announcement of the election of Aphrem II, a 48-year-old citizen of Syria and former member of the WCC Central Committee and Executive Committee, was made public by the Syrian Orthodox Church in Lebanon, on 31 March. Aphrem II currently serves as the archbishop and patriarchal vicar of the diocese of the Eastern United States of America.

The archbishop served as a delegate from his church to the WCC assemblies at Canberra, Australia (1991), Harare, Zimbabwe (1998) and Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006).

“We congratulate your fellow bishops for this election and we join the faithful of your Church in their joy at having a new Patriarch and spiritual Father,” Tveit said in a letter issued on 1 April 2014.

“We pray God to strengthen you, to guide you and to accompany you in your new ministry, as you continue along the path of your predecessor of blessed memory, indeed the path of a very long chain of Primates, going back to the time of the apostles,” Tveit added.

Tveit recalled Aphrem II’s active participation in the ecumenical movement, as a member of the WCC Central and Executive Committees, and his participation in the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and as a founding member of the Christian Churches Together in the USA. “We hope that you will continue offering leadership to the ecumenical movement at the national, regional and global levels,” Tveit said.

Aphrem II, 123rd patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, succeeds the late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, who died at the age of 81 on 21 March 2014.


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Nearly 50% of workers earn less than the living wage in many areas of UK

Tue, 2014-04-01 11:24

On the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage, the TUC has revealed that in some parts of Britain, nearly half the jobs pay less than the living wage.

In some parts of Britain, nearly half the jobs pay less than the living wage, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed today (1 April) to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage and the second week of the TUC’s Fair Pay Fortnight which runs until Friday (4 April), with some events over the weekend.

TUC analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library shows that nationally on average one in five jobs pays under the living wage – currently set at £8.80 in London and £7.65 across the rest of the UK – but in some parliamentary constituencies nearly half the people working there earn less than this.

Across the UK, around five million people get paid less than the living wage. Kingswood near Bristol tops the list of living wage black spots with 48 per cent earning less than £7.65 an hour, followed by Chingford and Woodford Green in North East London (43.4 per cent), Harrow West in North West London (42.4 per cent) and Sefton Central on Merseyside (40.4 per cent).

In other parts of Britain a substantial number of workers also get paid less than the living wage. Nearly two in five people working in Dwyfor Meirionnydd in North Wales (39.9 per cent), Rhondda in South Wales (39.7 per cent), Blackpool South (39.3 per cent), West Lancashire (38.2 per cent), Bexleyheath and Crayford in South East London (38.2 per cent) and Wells in Somerset (38.1) receive less than £7.65 an hour.

For working women the picture is even more bleak. More than half of women working in two constituencies – Kingswood (56.1 per cent) and Bexleyheath and Crayford (51.3) per cent – take home less than the living wage. And around half the women working in Heywood and Middleton in the North West (49.7 per cent), East Yorkshire (48.6 per cent) and Cleethorpes (48.4 per cent) earn less than £7.65 an hour.

At the other end of the income scale, in some parts of the country – mostly in the South East – as few as five per cent of workers are paid under the living wage. Just 5.6 per cent of people working in Poplar and Limehouse (East London), 5.8 per cent in Runnymede and Weybridge (Surrey), 7.3 per cent in South Cambridgeshire and also 7.3 per cent in Islington South and Finsbury (North London) earn less than the living wage.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.

“Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times. Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing our economy dear.

“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it – but government must show equal initiative. We need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from government and employers, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more."

She concluded: “During Fair Pay Fortnight we’re asking workers to back our call to MPs to get all political parties to put decent pay at the top of their agendas in the run up to the election.”

* Fair Pay Fortnight: http://www.tuc.org.uk/events/fair-pay-fortnight


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New briefing documents mass military executions in Nigeria

Tue, 2014-04-01 10:20

A briefing by Amnesty International published yesterday documents atrocities commmitted by Boko Haram and the Nigerian security forces.

A shocking increase in attacks by Boko Haram along with uncontrolled retaliations by Nigeria’s security forces has seen the death toll in north-east Nigeria rise to at least 1,500 people this year, more than half of whom are civilians, according to a briefing by Amnesty International published yesterday (31 March).

Over half of the killings have been carried out by members of the Islamist armed group Boko Haram and among the victims are scores of schoolchildren who have been specifically targeted by armed violence.

Amnesty’s new briefing documents the atrocities committed by both Boko Haram and the Nigerian Security Forces this year. It highlights 14 March as a tipping point for the violence, when the security forces brutally executed over 600 mostly unarmed detainees.

Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director for Africa at Amnesty International said:

“The escalation of violence in north eastern Nigeria in 2014 has developed into a situation of non-international armed conflict in which all parties are violating international humanitarian law. We urge the international community to ensure prompt, independent investigations into acts that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“More than 1,500 deaths in three months indicate an alarming deterioration in the situation. The international community cannot continue to look the other way in the face of extrajudicial executions, attacks on civilians and other crimes under international law being committed on a mass scale. Civilians are paying a heavy price as the cycle of violations and reprisals gather momentum.”

On 14 March Boko Haram gunmen attacked the Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state. They reportedly fought their way into the detention facilities and freed several hundred detainees. Amnesty has received credible evidence that as the military regained control, more than 600 people, mostly unarmed recaptured detainees, were extra-judicially executed in various locations across Maiduguri.

One resident, Mallam Ibrahim, told Amnesty about the chaos he witnessed when military forces came across 56 of the escaped detainees:

“The former detainees were in a classroom. They started screaming ‘we are not Boko Haram. We are detainees!’ My neighbours and I saw the soldiers take the men to a place called ‘no man’s land,’ behind the University of Maiduguri. We watched as the soldiers opened fire killing all 56. They were killed in front of us. All of them.”

The international community must act with urgency to help end the conflict in the country. Amnesty is calling on the African Commission and the United Nations to work with the Nigerian government to ensure thorough, impartial and transparent investigations into these war crimes take place. Given Nigeria’s apparent unwillingness and inability to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of these crimes, Amnesty is also calling on the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council to immediately address the escalating conflict in northeastern Nigeria and provide full and effective support to end these acts of violence against civilians.


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Churches hear of human rights violations in India

Mon, 2014-03-31 23:28

A group of activists from Manipur, India, visited the World Council of Churches HQ in Geneva recently, sharing accounts of human rights violations in their region.

A group of activists from Manipur, India, visited the World Council of Churches (WCC) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 26 March, sharing accounts of human rights violations in their region and efforts to lobby against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) at the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The group told of the on-going conflict in Manipur, a state in North Eastern India, where they said the AFSPA has been used in extrajudicial killings on charges of offense against the state. The AFSPA stems from colonial time and has been adopted by independent India. The Act grants the Indian security forces special powers, among them to kill or detained any suspects without due process.

The group of activists included Nobo Urikhimbam, Lheikhochin Haokip Mangvung Hechin and Sobita Mangsatabam, from the United NGOs Mission-Manipur (UNMM), who participated in the meeting hosted by the WCC programme for the Just and Inclusive Communities.

Urikhimbam, UNMMs’ secretary, said that since 2004 more than 4,000 people have been killed and many have been jailed and tortured by the Indian security forces. Due to political turmoil in the state, the number of extrajudicial executions has been significantly high, he said.

The government of India until now has been unable to resolve the conflict, he added.

Urikhimbam stressed the importance of interventions from the UN mechanisms in responding to this situation. He mentioned the report A Memorandum on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions to Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, submitted by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights.

UNMM’s Sobita Mangsatabam highlighted the plight of women in Manipur, whom she said remain the leading victims of the conflict. She said that women are often abused by the security forces, and sexual exploitation and rape of women is used as a weapon of war.

Mangsatabam added that serious investigations into these violations of human rights should be conducted and perpetrators should be brought to justice.

The conflict in Manipur, which was among the issues discussed at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, needs more attention from the churches, the activists urged. The National Council of Churches in India is an important actor and can make significant contributions for peace-building efforts in Manipur, they said.


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A vote for UKIP is a vote in the dark

Mon, 2014-03-31 22:07
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Citizenship-stripping plans face opposition from legal experts

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:20

Plans which would give the Home Secretary the power to deprive millions of British people of their citizenship are being opposed by a range of legal experts.

Plans which would give the Home Secretary the power to deprive millions of British people of their citizenship will this week enter the final stages of their passage through the Lords – in the face of opposition from a range of legal experts.

The proposals, introduced by Theresa May as part of the Immigration Bill (Clause 64), would give her the power to strip Britons of their citizenship, even where doing so would leave them stateless; and without having to first go through any form of legal process.

Applying only to ‘naturalised’ British citizens – ie those not born in the UK – the proposals would significantly widen the number of people who could be targeted, to an estimated 3-4 million in England and Wales alone. Concerns have also been raised that they would lead to a system of “two-tier citizenship” in Britain, where one class of citizen could be hit by the penalty while another remains immune.

Today (31 March) sees the first of three days of debate scheduled for the Immigration Bill in the Lords. Among the amendments tabled to the Bill is one from a group of legal experts which would remove the Home Secretary’s Clause 64 from the Bill, setting up in its place a Parliamentary committee to consider the issue.

The amendment (number 56) has been tabled by former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald QC; former Supreme Court judge, Lord Brown; leading barrister Lord Pannick QC; and Labour front-bencher Baroness Smith.

Commenting, Clare Algar, Executive Director of the legal charity Reprieve said: “These plans would give one politician the power to impose a form of medieval exile on British citizens, without even needing the sign-off of any court. Similar proposals in the US were described by that country’s Supreme Court as ‘more primitive than torture.’ They would also create a two-tier system of citizenship, with millions of Britons exposed for life to this punishment, simply because of where they were born. The Lords must reject these dangerous and ill-thought-out proposals.”


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Methodists respond as Street Child World Cup kicks off in Brazil

Mon, 2014-03-31 12:49

Over the past two years, Methodist children and young people have been encouraging local churches to help raise £30,000 for the SCWC by organising fundraising events.

Over the past two years, Methodist children and young people in Britain have been encouraging local churches to help raise £30,000 for the Street Child World Cup (SCWC) by organising fundraising events of their own.

In Bristol, young Methodists organised a fundraising event that was supported by the whole District. The Rev Ward Jones, District Chairman, volunteered to be gunked in a Cheshire cat onesie to raise money to sponsor two teams from Nicaragua – a girls' team and a boys' team – to take part in the tournament in Rio.

Tamara Wray, Methodist Youth President, said: "The Street Child World Cup really can change the lives of street children; the young people who participated in the SCWC in Durban in 2010 are now all working and living independently because of Casa Alianza. They all speak about the motivation and inspiration that they gained from the experience. This is why we, along with our Methodist volunteers who are in Rio helping out during the event, are proud to be backing the Street Child World Cup because no child should ever have to live or work on the streets."

The charity responsible for putting together the Nicaraguan teams is Casa Alianza. Through a holistic programme of sports, art, therapy, group sessions, education and spirituality, Casa Alianza not only provides a safe haven but also a place where these street children can equip themselves for a better life.

Roseanne Levermore is a One Programme participant for the Joint Public Issues Team of the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches. She will be one of a group of Methodists supporting Team Nicaragua in Rio today. "I am really looking forward to working with the Street Child World Cup and helping to run their 'Fringe' sessions in Rio," she said. "This is a really exciting part of the project that happens away from the football pitch in the evenings. The children and young people will be given a chance to reflect on the day, and a quiet space amongst the excitement of the tournament. My role within the fringe team is to coordinate the 'Relax' sessions. These involve yoga, art therapy, sign language to music, hair braiding, sewing, cooking, and practical classes including computer skills to name but a few."

Following the Street Child World Cup, the Methodist Church in Britain will continue to support the work of Casa Alianza in Nicaragua. Youth President Tamara Wray will take part in a 10 kilometre charity run on 1 June. "As people, we always look for the happy ending as this provides us with comfort," added Tamara. "The Street Child World Cup is not the happy ending: it's the beginning. So please support the SCWC and Casa Alianza in the fantastic work that they are doing."

* Donate to Street Child World Cup here: http://www.methodist.org.uk/mission/street-child-world-cup?utm_medium=em...


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Uncontacted Indians ‘abandoned to their fate’

Sun, 2014-03-30 23:13

Survival International has warned that uncontacted Indians have been abandoned after drug smugglers and loggers overran a government post monitoring the territory.

Survival International, the organisation which campaigns for tribal people, has warned that the uncontacted Amazon Indians recently photographed from the air have been abandoned to their fate after drug smugglers and illegal loggers overran a government post that had been monitoring the Indians’ territory.

The Indians, near the Xinane river in Brazil’s Acre State, are just over the border from Peru, where activists have long denounced the scale of illegal logging in isolated Indians’ territories.

The recently-photographed group also faces a serious threat from a road reportedly built into the area by the Acre state government – regional indigenous organisations have said this could devastate the uncontacted Indians on the Xinane River. Previous road-building projects in the Amazon have wiped out countless tribes.

In recent months several groups of uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians have been spotted along river banks on the Peruvian side of the border, prompting further speculation that illegal logging is pushing them out of their previous isolation.

The Brazilian and Peruvian authorities last week signed an agreement to improve cross-border coordination, in an attempt to safeguard the welfare of the many uncontacted Indians living in the border region.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá is an Amazon Indian working with Survival to speak out for indigenous rights. He is from the same region as the tribe recently photographed. He said today, "They are my brothers. It is exciting to see that they are living in the way they want. The government must protect their territory; otherwise, they could be destroyed and the government would be responsible."

Survival Director Stephen Corry said, "The only thing that will ensure the survival of modern-day uncontacted tribes is for their land to be protected. They have the right to decide whether to make contact with outside society, rather than be destroyed at the hands of an invading society. It’s vital that Brazil and Peru work together to protect the land of uncontacted tribes. History shows that when these rights aren’t upheld, disease, death and destruction follow."


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Calls for tougher action on zero-hours contracts

Sat, 2014-03-29 13:57

An important new report on zero-hours contracts by the Resolution Foundation highlights the need for action on the issue.

Commenting on an important new report on zero-hours contracts by the Resolution Foundation, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady has called for decisive action.

“The report highlights how the government is failing to address many of the abuses experienced by workers on zero-hours contracts. That’s why we need urgent legislative action to stamp out the growing abuse of workers on these contracts and in other forms of insecure work," she said.

“The report includes some welcome recommendations including recognising the need for improved enforcement of workplace rights, encouraging government to use procurement arrangements to reduce the use of zero-hours contracts, especially in social care, and rights for all workers to receive a written statement of terms and conditions at the start of their employment.

“We agree with the Resolution Foundation that individuals working regular hours should be offered a contract containing fixed hours, but they should not have to wait 12 months for increased job and income security.

“The TUC would like the government to go further and ensure that staff on zero-hours contracts are properly rewarded for the flexibility they offer employers and that they get the same basic workplace rights as employees.

“The government cannot afford to ignore the 36,000 responses to the recent BIS consultation on zero-hours working. If we are to build a strong and sustainable recovery that benefits working people, then we need to be creating secure jobs with decent rates of pay. This week sees the TUC’s first Fair Pay Fortnight and we are urging all political parties to put fair pay at the top of their agenda in the run up to the election.”

* Read the Resolution Foundation report here: http://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/zeroing/


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