Tag Archives: human rights

Yorm Bopha

by Daniel Mattes, ’12

Daniel has been working since September 2012 as a monitor of the international tribunal for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I had no work at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal yesterday and I decided to join my friend who works for ADHOC — one of the largest and most active domestic human rights NGOs in the country — at the Cambodian Supreme Court for the bail hearing of a land rights activist and political prisoner named Yorm Bopha. She is a member of the activist Boeung Kak community. Boeung Kak was a beautiful lake within the city of Phnom Penh that was filled in with sand after the land was sold to Shukaku Inc., a Cambodian-Chinese corp owned by a ruling party senator in 2007. It is now a desert, and no construction has taken place because the owners are waiting for the land values to rise before ‘developing’ it. The people who had lived on the lake and fished it for their business and sustenance began an immediate movement for reparation, but they were later evicted from the edge of the lake. This has evolved into a very active and rather well-known activist movement led mostly by women. Most recently, in Spring 2012, 13 Boeung Kak women were violently arrested. One of these women, Tep Vanny, is going to Washington DC to receive a human rights defender award from Hillary Clinton on 5 April from the Vital Voices Foundation — founded by Clinton when she was still First Lady — so they have received a good amount of international attention. Tep Vanny is also traveling in Europe now to promote this documentary, the trailer of which I suggest you watch if you want more information on Boeung Kak.

However, the case of Yorm Bopha remains. Continue reading

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Students Hail Significant Milestone in Push for Divestment

by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights

In a powerful show of solidarity, over 75 Stanford students turned out Tuesday evening to express support for the campaign calling for Stanford University’s Board of Trustees to divest from a set of companies that violate international law and abuse human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (see photos and videos here).

The students hailed over the two dozen student groups, including the NAACP, Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Stanford Says No to War, Asian American Student Association, the Stanford Labor Action Coalition, and the Black Student Union. Continue reading

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Social Justice Activists Worldwide support the ASSU Divestment Bill

by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The campaign to end Stanford’s complicity in violations of international law and abuses of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is coming to a historic juncture.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 PM in Nitery 209 the ASSU Undergraduate Senate is voting on a bill that calls on the Board of Trustees to specifically reevaluate its investments in companies that violate  international law and abuse human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In the last few days we have received statements of support for our selective divestment campaign and for the bill in front of the ASSU UG Senate from some of the most prominent social justice advocates and heroes hailing from all corners of the world: from Northern Ireland to South Africa, Palestine to the Bay Area!

We have been deeply humbled by this outpouring of international support and are really excited to share with the rest of campus. Continue reading

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Kambale Musavuli Comes to Campus

by Jeff Mandell, ’13


At Stanford STAND, the student coalition against genocide and mass atrocities, one of the major challenges we face is staying informed about all of the conflicts we cover. Currently, we do educational events, advocacy, fundraising, and other activism related to Syria, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. It’s definitely not easy for a full-time student to keep up with the news in all of these countries, let alone acquire and maintain the level of knowledge needed for truly informed activism. When you consider that most of us have never been to any of these countries and have little awareness of their varied cultures, you might wonder if it’s even possible for us to be informed.

The answer I’ve come up with after being involved in STAND for four years is that while we may never know as much as we should, we can still do good work as long as we are always trying to learn more. Continue reading

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Faster, Higher, Stronger: A History of Olympic Oppression

By Erika Kreeger, ’15

On December 4th, Erika published a piece entitled “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” about the human right’s violations occurring in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in preparation for the Olympic Games. This is a follow up to that piece.

Beijing Olympic Torch, cristyli.blogspot.com

Beijing Olympic Torch, cristyli.blogspot.com

Any conversation about the problems in Rio de Janeiro surrounding the World Cup and the Olympic Games would be strikingly inadequate without a critical look at past events to place these current tournaments in better context. Forced removals were completely commonplace in preparation for many Olympics. Some (unfortunately, I am not one of them) may have been old enough or aware enough to read about the controversy surrounding the Beijing Games in 2008, in which 1.25 million people were dislocated in the years prior to the Games, dwarfing the previous record of 720,000 for the Seoul Olympics in 1988. By these numbers, Brazil’s heinous 170,000 seems rather measly and insignificant.

Beyond forced removals, there are ‘anti-crime’ crackdowns and roundups in the months and days prior to the Opening Ceremonies arguably to make the city safer, but which overwhelmingly unreasonably and excessively target poor, geographically disadvantaged, oppressed communities. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, while generally viewed as an amazing success, was also marked by extreme police brutality and crackdowns in the South Central and East parts of the city. Continue reading

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Minha Casa, Minha Vida: Why I Won’t Be Watching or Attending the 2014 World Cup or the 2016 Olympics

by Erika Kreeger, ’15

One of my greatest disappointments for 2012 will be not having been able to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Not only was it a great spectacle, I heard, but I’ve always been fond of the Olympics, and the grandeur that is associated with them. Although I have many problems with globalization, I feel like there’s something to be said for a majority of human nations coming together in a friendly, non-political manner. It builds a sense of solidarity amongst the different populations of our species.

A favela in the mountains of Rio, NYT

A favela in the mountains of Rio, NYT

Probably my greatest disappointment of 2012, though, was deciding that I would not attend the 2014 World Cup or the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As I am planning on either studying or living in Minas Gerais, Brazil, while both of these events take place, I had these grand plans of going to watch soccer games, see the attractive divers and swimmers race, and hang with my family, who’d try to fly out for one of the events.  But after learning of the awful human rights violations occurring in Rio in preparation for both these large events, I can’t in good conscience let myself take part in them. Continue reading

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Stanford Students Protest Gaza Offensive, Demand Student Action & University Divestment

 by a coalition of students concerned about the siege on Gaza

Stanford students, faculty and alumni will gather at White Plaza  Friday, November 16 at noon to sit in solidarity with the residents of Gaza currently under siege by Israeli military forces. They will protest the Israeli assault and economic chokehold on Gaza, and will rally students to demand that the University divest from companies implicated in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

A coalition of concerned students have been meeting since  Wednesday, when Israel first commenced the “Pillar of Defense” – a naval, air and artillery offensive on the besieged territory of Gaza. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated civilian regions in the world.

The coalition has planned a sit-in that will symbolize the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza. Allied faculty have confirmed their attendance in support.

Given the death of many Palestinian civilians and our complicity in this violence as Stanford students, we have a responsibility to do something about it.

Since  November 8 – when Israel first began violent aggression against Gaza, killing six civilians, including three children – at least 23 more Palestinians have died as a result of Israeli attacks, including another six children. Israeli strikes have injured over 300 Palestinians in this time.  The IDF has attacked over 500 targets in Gaza since the formal Israeli offensive began.

The blockade of Gaza – created by crippling sanctions from Israel and Egypt – limits Palestinian access to the outside world, including access to food and medicine. Such conditions constitute what can only be described as an open air prison.   Continue reading

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We are workers, we are not slaves!

by Adrian Bonifacio, ’13

The skyline of Hong Kong reads like an issue of Fortune 500. Samsung, HSBC, Phillips, Hitachi, COSCO—their buildings reach out from the bay as if to form the fingers of the capitalist invisible hand, now made so conspicuous by its flashing neon lights. Thanks to the boom in its economy after WWII, and especially after the 1980s transition into a largely service-based economy, Hong Kong has become one of the richest regions in all of Asia. But, as with many other developed capitalist economies, the United States far from excluded, inequality runs rampant. An article  published earlier this year exposes the literal cages some citizens are forced to live in. The article reminds us that poverty and desperation can be easily hidden from our consciousness by a high-figured GDP. In this way, the stories of another “imprisoned” population living within Hong Kong are also absent from our fields of vision: those of migrant domestic workers.

I shared my life with Filipina domestic workers for just under three months this past summer—singing, learning, laughing, rallying, dancing, picketing, and of course, eating. But the majority of the time I spent with them was spent being humbled. Continue reading

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Why is Big Money Invading My Activism?

by Jared Naimark, ’14

About two weeks ago, two events I attended brought me out of my usual comfort zone and had me interacting with Silicon Valley’s über rich philanthropists.  I ended the weekend with lots of thoughts swirling around in my head, but didn’t have time to get them into any cohesive format until now.  So here goes.

On Friday, September 28th, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the San Francisco Freedom Forum along with five other members of human rights group, Stanford STAND.  I had been personally freaking out about this conference all summer, because human rights icon and Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be speaking there as part of her first U.S. visit in over 20 years.  So that Friday I ditched the activities fair, forsook my shorts and flip-flops combo, shaved my beard, and put on a suit.  I hate dressing up – but I had to look good, right?

Anyways, we had no idea what was going to happen at this conference, other than that we were really lucky to get a seat through connections with Stanford professors. Continue reading

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Burma Storytelling

Dinner, Music, and Spoken Word Performances in Honor of the Burmese Liberation Movement

Thursday, February 9th
Toyon Lounge

Stanford STAND is hosting a storytelling event that spotlights unheard perspectives on the regime’s oppression and people’s liberation movement. Stanford Storytelling Project and Stanford Spoken Word Collective will perform testimonies by Burmese refugees, compiled in Voice of Witness‘s book, Nowhere to Be Home: Stories of Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime.We will also hear from Burmese Stanford students and Myra Dahgaypaw, Campaigns Coordinator for U.S. Campaign for Burma. Join us for an evening of Burmese stories, music, dance, and dinner!

Homemade Burmese food will be served!  Continue reading

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