Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Thursday

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders | Amnesty International

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders | Amnesty International
Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders. Police have detained the second Amnesty International Turkey leader within the space of a month.
On the morning of the 5th July, police arrested eight human rights activists, including Idil Eser, and two trainers who were attending a workshop in Istanbul. For over 24 hours, they weren’t allowed to contact their families or see a lawyer - and no one even knew where they were.
Idil and the others were doing nothing wrong.  They are now being investigated on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organisation": a ridiculous and baseless accusation.This kind of attack on Human Rights Defenders is becoming more frequent. The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.
The ten human rights defenders detained are İdil Eser (Amnesty International), İlknur Üstün  (Women's Coalition), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Şeyhmuz Özbekli (lawyer), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association) Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer).

China: Democratic Voice Liu Xiaobo Dies in Custody | Human Rights Watch

China: Democratic Voice Liu Xiaobo Dies in Custody | Human Rights Watch

The death of Chinese dissident and public intellectual Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, lays bare the Chinese government’s ruthlessness toward peaceful proponents of human rights and democracy, Human Rights Watch said today. On July 13, 2017, Liu died from complications of liver cancer in a Shenyang hospital in Liaoning Province while being guarded by state security.  The last time a Nobel Peace laureate died in state custody was in 1938, when pacifist Carl von Ossietzky died of tuberculosis under guard in a hospital in Nazi Germany.

Suncor: clean up your toxic tailings mess before 2085

Suncor: clean up your toxic tailings mess.

Suncor is trying to get the Alberta government to give it until 2085 to clean up billions of litres of ghastly mess.
But it gets worse. Suncor's strategy to "clean up" literally 525 billion litres of poisonous tailings sludge involves dumping it into a hole and capping it with water. That's it. This half-baked plan is nothing more than Suncor’s thinly veiled excuse to avoid cleaning up the after-party of a 50-year fossil fuel extraction binge fest.

We have zero guarantees that corporations like Suncor will even be around in three-quarters of a century -- let alone have the resources or motivation to clean their messes up.

Tell Suncor to stop playing games and clean up its mess now.

There are now more than 1.2 trillion litres of tar sands tailings fluids sitting in open ponds and leaching toxic chemicals into the environment of northern Alberta. They remain the biggest logistical and environmental challenge of bitumen mining.

Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists, and residents have always feared that the long-term plan is to simply delay cleaning them up until every last drop of carbon has been sucked out of the earth. Then, the tar sands corporations can leave the mess for communities and taxpayers to deal with. And if Suncor gets its way, this is exactly what will happen.

What's even more baffling is that Suncor's mine is set to close in 2032, so essentially the company is asking us to believe it is going to stick around for over 50 years after operations have ended to clean up what it destroyed. Albertans and Canadians have absolutely no guarantee Suncor is going to finish the job. This is a risk we simply cannot afford to take.

The Alberta government is currently reviewing Suncor's flawed tailings strategy -- and that means we don't have long to act. 
Tell Suncor it needs to take responsibility and clean up its toxic tailings mess.


Friday

Don’t frack Ontario! The Council of Canadians

Don’t frack Ontario! The Council of Canadians
On May 17, the Wynne Liberals passed Bill 127, which included an amendment to the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act for “projects that involve the injection of substances into underground geological formations.”

Without naming it, that literally describes the process of fracking. Oil and gas companies draw enormous volumes of water from local watersheds, mix in toxic chemicals, and then high-pressure inject it deep underground to fracture rock to release trapped natural gas.

You may have seen news reports of how fracking has contaminated the drinking water of area residents, in some cases coming out of the tap with so much methane that it can be lit on fire. And now a new expert study directly links fracking to earthquakes happening in B.C. and  beyond.

But the Wynne government is choosing to ignore this evidence. It also ignored the advice of Environmental Commissioner Dianne Saxe,
who noted in a May 11 letter before the vote on Bill 127:
“If the government does not intend these changes to apply to high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the easiest way to avoid mis-interpretation would be to expressly provide that this permitting authority does not apply to fracking.” 
You and I can’t let the province do this, especially after  just last week failing to protect our community water supplies from giant  bottling companies like Nestlé.

Please  add your name to the more than 3,000 people who have already called on  Premier Wynne to ban fracking.

Monday

Evidence for Democracy - Science Integrity Policies

Canada is on its way to establishing science integrity policies!
Science integrity policies aim to ensure that government science follows the protocols of objectivity, openness, replicability, transparency, and freedom from undue influence.
This is amazing news! We have been pushing for the establishment of robust, progressive science integrity policies since the Liberal government was elected in October 2015. 
Objective, sound, and robust science, evidence, and data are needed to inform policy. When government decisions are made on the best available evidence, our health, environment, economy, and communities improve.
Science Integrity Policies (SIPs) are policies aimed to ensure government science follows the protocols of objectivity, openness, replicability, transparency, and freedom from undue influence.
Last December, the Government and PIPSC negotiated the inclusion of government scientists’ right to speak in collective agreements. This means that if the government tries to muzzle scientists, they can file a grievance with their union.
Taking this further, these new agreements between the government and union require that each federal department with more than 10 researchers establish SIPs.

Amnesty International Canada - Action for Saeed Malekpour

Amnesty International Canada
"All I want is for my brother to be free, and returned to his home in Canada, and I want an investigation that will reveal the truth."  - Maryam Malekpour, sister of Saeed

A Canadian permanent resident originally from Iran, Saeed Malekpour made a trip in 2008 to visit his ailing father in Iran. He was arrested and accused on the grounds that an open source web program he created for uploading photos to the internet had been misused. In 2010, he was sentenced to death. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2012.
While detained Saeed reported he was blindfolded and handcuffed while several individuals beat him with cables, batons, and their fists in order to force a confession. His televised ‘confession’ was the only ‘evidence’ used against him in court to secure his conviction. Saeed was then sentenced to another 7 years in prison for speaking out about the torture he experienced.

Sunday

Petition e-1030 to Reinstate Navigable Waters Act

Petition e-1030 - E-petitions
  • More than 35 million people directly rely on the Great Lakes every single day and political realities of any empowered government prevent direct action in protecting freshwater tributaries, streams, rivers and lakes; thus, the need for indefinite protection beyond legislation is required to ensure all Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, can enjoy the sanctity and longevity of the Great Lakes Basin for generations to come;
  • The relationship between major industry proponents including the oil and gas industry and the Canadian Government, as well as any empowered political party of the present day, is fundamentally flawed when considering the need to protect the Great Lakes upon which all life depends; and
  • Any well meaning government concerned with Canada’s environmental legacy and wealth cannot, without significant disruption to the operating status quo and fulfilling the directives of economic growth, make lasting change to protect Water indefinitely.
We, the undersigned, Indigenous & Non Indigenous Peoples of the Great Lakes, First Nations, Metis and Inuit and Citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to undertake a process by which to formerly acknowledge the Great Lakes as Living Entities, thereby assigning legal personhood to each Lake including Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario within its power as a Nation State under the British Commonwealth;
Support the formation of a Multi-Interest Great Lakes Tribunal lead by Indigenous Peoples that will act as the Voice of these new Persons. This entity should be formulated by appointment via Indigenous protocols and through multi-interest groups already in existence.
Reinstate the Navigable Waters Protection Act through repealing sections of the Omnibus Bill C-45.

Saturday

Jane Goodall Wants You To Stand Up To Those Who Belittle Science - see local marches for Earth Day

The video message comes a few days after Goodall, a United Nations “messenger of peace,” traveled to Washington, D.C., where she spoke with media before addressing students at American University. That same day, President Donald Trump, who’s described climate change as a “bullshit” “hoax” and who’s vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris climate agreement, signed an executive order to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Asked by The Huffington Post about Trump’s climate actions, Goodall called them “immensely disturbing.” However, she believes the Trump administration has woken people up, citing the numerous marches and demonstrations.
The “March for Science” is supported by a nonpartisan coalition of scientific groups and is scheduled for Earth Day — April 22. While the main rally will occur in Washington, D.C., satellite marches have been organized in more than 400 locations around the globe. The D.C. event is “a call for politicians to implement science-based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and in all our daily lives,” according to the official website of the march.

TORONTO MARCH: https://sciencemarchto.ca/
see satellite marches for other Ontario events, and in your neighbourhood.

Friday

Canada-China Free Trade Agreement talks

Stop the Canada-China Free Trade Agreement talks!
I am very concerned about the likely impacts of a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on people in both countries.
I oppose the investor-state dispute settlement provision that is already in the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). This provision allows transnational corporations to sue governments for future lost profits due to legislation that protects the public interest, including the environment. I think that this provision should be removed from FIPA and should not be strengthened by a new FTA.
I am concerned about the impact of a Canada-China FTA on Indigenous rights. The Chinese government has said that a free trade deal would require Canadian concessions on investment restrictions in the oil and gas sector, and a commitment to build an energy pipeline to the coast. This violates Indigenous rights in that these projects affect their lands and waters – without their free, prior and informed consent.
I am also concerned that a Canada-China FTA could lead to water pollution and increased bottled water takings. An expansion of the tar sands would mean more water pollution in northern Alberta, while pipelines put waterways across the country at risk. As well, about 90 per cent of the groundwater in Chinese cities is polluted and 700 million people in those cities drink contaminated water every day. Given China already sees Tibet as a source for bottled water, it's possible that China might look to Canada as a source of bottled water as well. Canada could also be promoted as a country with ample water for China's water-intensive industries.
I am disappointed that you launched an online consultation on a Canada-China FTA six months after you announced exploratory talks would take place and three weeks after those talks began. The online consultation form gives you the opportunity to say you have consulted Canadians, but it does not give me the opportunity to directly say I oppose a Canada-China FTA.
I ask that you stop the current talks on a Canada-China FTA, that you hold proper consultations with Canadians and First Nations, and that any future talks be open, transparent and accountable to the public.

Sunday

Women's rights under assault: UN

Women's rights under assault: UN, Agence France-Presse

Women's rights are under fresh assault worldwide, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday as a two-week conference kicked off at the United Nations to take stock of the fight for gender equality.
President Donald Trump's "global gag rule" cutting US funding to groups that offer abortion services and Russia's decision to ease punishment for domestic violence are casting a long shadow on the annual gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women.
"Globally, women are suffering new assaults on their safety and dignity," Guterres told the opening session of the conference at UN headquarters in New York.
"Some governments are enacting laws that curtail women's freedoms. Others are rolling back legal protections against domestic violence."
Trump, who declared himself opposed to abortion during his campaign, signed a decree just days into his presidency barring US funding for foreign non-governmental groups if their work touches on abortion.
A few weeks later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that reduces penalties for domestic violence to a fine instead of a jail term, if the assault is a first offence and does not cause serious injury.
This year's gathering focuses on women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with attention turning to pay inequality and paid parental leave.
The United Nations has set a global goal of achieving gender equality by 2030. A recent study by the International Labour Organization warned that without stronger measures, it will take 70 years to close the gender wage gap.

Tuesday

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day | UN Women – Headquarters

UN Secretary-General's Message for International Women’s Day

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.
Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.
Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.
Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined. Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.
Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.
Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.
Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world | Environment | The Guardian
The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.
new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.
The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”
The world’s population is set to grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion in 2050. The pesticide industry argues that its products – a market worth about $50bn (£41bn) a year and growing – are vital in protecting crops and ensuring sufficient food supplies.
“It is a myth,” said Hilal Elver, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. “Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed 9 billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”
Elver said many of the pesticides are used on commodity crops, such as palm oil and soy, not the food needed by the world’s hungry people: “The corporations are not dealing with world hunger, they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales.”