Friday 15 November 2013

Jan Satyagraha, 2012

Five years after Janadesh –their first 350-km-foot march involving 25,000 people who demanded rights on their lands, once more, the landless peasants of the Ekta Parishad Union met in Gwalior, India, to march to Delhi.  The march started on October 2, 2012, and arrived in Delhi on October 29, 2012. They needed 70,000 participants to demand new rights over land, water and natural resources. But, millions in Indian villages would hear the message. There were also many support activities in Europe and the rest of the world with local marches, meals, conferences and meetings.

We have often heard the cry we learned from Gandhi: JAI JAGAT! Victory for the world! But what is this victory? The agreement reached in Agra? The million land titles given to Adivasis (tribal people) since 2008? Or standing, walking, and facing the holders of power, without hatred or contempt but with determination?

These landless' peasants of Ekta Parishad with their leader Rajagopal on one side and on other, the Indian state and its government, all contributed to this victory, without violence and with respect.

It was hard for everyone; this victory could not be taken for granted. Victory against fear, indifference, poverty, and the inevitable fatigue is a daily task.

Janadesh March, Jan Satyagraha March and the twenty years of Ekta Parishad’s nonviolent struggle do not only mean the million property titles distributed to Adivasis since 2008 but much more than that, the transformation of Adivasis’ lives, opening doors to a dignified life, joyous awakening and the return of their confidence.

Thursday 14 November 2013

2014 SOLIDARITY MARCH: 2,000 reasons

Second fortnight of July 2014

to denounce the causes that provoke: 
Child Slavery, Unemployment and Exploitation

Let’s join against a radically unfair international economic and financial system, international organizations, parliamentary political parties and trade unions which legitimize wars, impoverishment and devastation and do nothing to put an end to child slavery and unemployment; and against a first world society that turns a blind eye to these barbarities.

Let’s march for Justice and Solidarity.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Vatican Focuses on Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery, at Pope's Request


An international workshop on human trafficking, modern slavery, held at the Vatican last weekend, examines the real dimensions of this criminal activity, with a view to better combating it.

The Vatican is hosting an international workshop on human trafficking this weekend (November 2-3), at the request of Pope Francis. The aim is to get an accurate picture of “the real state” of this heinous criminal activity against human dignity in order to explore new ways to better combat it.

Recent trends reveal that trafficking in human beings, which includes forced labor and sexual exploitation, has become the most profitable criminal activity in the world, surpassing both drugs and arms trafficking, according to Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies for Sciences and for Social Sciences.

Pope Francis is well aware that this criminal trade destroys the lives of so many millions of human beings. He was directly involved in combating it in Buenos Aires, where he also actively supported the work of the Fundacion Alameda, a lay, non-confessional organization in Argentina, headed by Gustavo Vera.

When, soon after his election as pope, the President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), the Argentinean Archbishop Sanchez Sorondo, asked him if he would like the PAS to focus on any particular issue, Francis immediately responded with a hand-written note saying “it would be good” for the academy “to deal with the trafficking in persons and modern slavery”, adding that it might also include in that study “the trafficking in organs”.

The result is this weekend’s international workshop on “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery. Destitute peoples and the message of Jesus Christ.”

We Can’t Forget Malala… We Can’t Forget Iqbal… We Can’t Forget There Are 400 Million Child Slaves Who Don’t Receive Education

The assassination attempt on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has put her situation in the spotlight. But she’s not the first, writes Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui.


Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for the right to an education.

Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui writes: DO YOU KNOW who Iqbal Masih is? And do you know who Malala Yousafzai is? I believe the majority of you would say no to the first question and wonder why they should know this name. The majority of readers will know the story about Malala, a 14-year-old girl from Pakistan shot by the Taliban last week for her activism for girls’ right to education.

However, both cases are very similar in many regards. Iqbal, like Malala, comes from Pakistan. Iqbal’s name became known in western countries when he was a ten-year-old boy. You know about Malala because she started talking about girls’ rights to education and her diary was published on the BBC Urdu blog when she was eleven.  The attempt was made to assassinate Malala when she was fourteen. An attempt to assassinate Iqbal was made when he was twelve.

And this attempt was successful. Iqbal died at the age of twelve. We all hope that Malala will survive, but why did I recall Iqbal when I heard about Malala’s case?

Iqbal had not had a chance to go to a school. He came from a very poor family which sold him into the carpet industry when he was four.  Together with other children, he spent days working very fine looms on hand-made carpets in slave-like conditions. For instance, children were undernourished so that they would not grow and have small fine fingers required for making good quality fine carpets. Once Iqbal managed to escape he was able to mobilise public opinion not only in Pakistan, but most importantly in the West, including the USA. Malala’s activism also goes beyond Pakistani borders and reportedly she made appeals to the West and the USA.

Friday 1 November 2013

Marching Towards a Child Slavery-Free Zone

ON WAY TO SCHOOL Hundreds of children who have earlier supplemented
the family income have adapted to a new routine in Odisha.
Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

March 23, 2013


Hiramani Bentkar, 12, will no longer work on the fields in her village in Kendujhar district or help with domestic work. She now proudly walks to school, carrying a bagful of books.

Hundreds of children like Hiramani, who have earlier supplemented the family income by working at roadside eateries, garages, brick kilns, in cattle rearing and in collecting minor forest products have adapted to a new routine in Odisha, thanks to groups of children who worked to persuade their parents.

According to Hiramani, the children have formed a club in her village, Kumulabahali, in the mineral-rich Kendujhar district, about 250 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, and put up a determined fight against various social evils, including the widespread practice of encouraging girls to drop out of school to supplement family income.

The club ‘Himalaya Sisu Sabha’ has a total of 44 members, all of whom are below 18 years of age.

Weekly meeting

The children meet once a week, usually on a Saturday, and discuss the issues they face and possible actions to better their lives. The village has a population of about 1,500; most of the villagers are tribals.

The children were encouraged to form the club and work as a group after volunteers of the Peoples’ Cutural Centre (Pecuc), a non-government organisation, met them and told them that children too could take matters into their own hands and demand their due.