Human Rights

Alternative World Water Forum: Strengthening Alliances to Protect Water, Life and Human Rights

FAMA plenary session
From March 17th to 22nd, thousands of activists from over 30 countries gathered in Brasilia for the Alternative World Water Forum (FAMA). The event brought together an impressive array of groups, including indigenous peoples, fishermen, traditional riverbank communities, popular movements from the periphery of urban centers, union workers opposed to the privatization of water and sanitation systems, and environmental and human rights NGOs and students, among others.

A River of Impunity: The Situation for Environmental Defenders Opposing Hydropower Projects

A homage to Berta Cáceres
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
The recent high-profile killing of Berta Cáceres, a grassroots indigenous activist who successfully led opposition to the Agua Zarca Dam in Honduras, was tragic and deplorable. It was also emblematic of the increased and deadly threats faced by environmental defenders around the world. Since Berta's murder, the tragedies have continued to mount. International Rivers is deeply concerned by the murders of our close friends and partners, and by the very real and ongoing threats faced by those we work with on a daily basis. We welcome the important and timely initiative by the United Nations Spec

Murdered for Their Rivers: A Roster of Fallen Dam Fighters

Two of the over four hundred indigenous Maya-Achi people massacred during the construction of Chixoy Dam in Guatemala.
Monday, June 20, 2016
The stories come to us one at a time. A woman’s body found in a trash heap. Two protesters shot during a demonstration. A man who just stepped out for milk gunned down by masked assailants on a motorcycle. These are not just stories, however. They are people who hail from communities where the struggle for natural resources is taking a bloody and desperate turn. These people are environmental defenders, and they are our colleagues, our collaborators, our friends. And the message is clear: In many countries, if you dare to stand up to dam builders, loggers and mining companies, you and your f

Indigenous Activists: In the Crosshairs of Development

Munduruku activist in Brazil When we learned that Berta Cáceres, a leader of the indigenous Lenca people, was murdered in Honduras, we were shocked but not surprised. A violent death is the all-too-frequent fate of indigenous activists who defend their rivers and lands against dams, logging and other forms of destructive development. Berta’s murder is just the tip of the iceberg. Her organization, the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras, has lost no less than 14 members in its history. In Brazil, 138 indigenous activists were killed in 2014 alone. Several oth

The Mortal Danger of Opposing a Dam

Group graves for massacre victims in Guatemala.
Recent events in Sudan and Honduras remind us of a stark truth that’s seldom talked about: opposing a dam project can be incredibly dangerous in many parts of the world. It can even get you killed.

Amazonian Tribes Unite to Demand Brazil Stop Hydroelectric Dams

Members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe dance along the Tapajós river during a ‘Caravan of Resistance’ protest in November.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa release joint statement as Brazil steps ups efforts to exploit power of the rivers Members of the Munduruku indigenous tribe dance along the Tapajós river during a ‘Caravan of Resistance’ protest in November. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images Four Amazonian tribes have joined forces to oppose the construction of hydroelectric dams in their territory as the Brazilian government ramps up efforts to exploit the power of rivers in the world’s biggest forest. The Munduruku, Apiaká, Kayabi and Rikbaktsa released a joint statement on T

Take Action for Illegally Detained Dam Fighter in Sudan

Thursday, November 20, 2014
Kober prison (Radio Dabanga) On September 23, 2014, Sudanese security forces detained Mr. Rashid Sheikh Eldin Abash, a peaceful Nubian activist who is fighting the destructive Kajbar and Dal dams on the Nile. Rashid Abash has been held in Kober prison without charges and without access to a lawyer or doctor ever since. According to witnesses, he has been repeatedly tortured. Rashid Abash's detention is the latest case in a long series of human rights abuses against dam fighters in Sudan. On November 20, 2014, International Rivers letter sent the attached letter to Sudan's Minister of Justice,

Human Rights and Kyoto's Carbon Offsetting Scheme

Weni Bagama, speaking at the Human Rights in the CDM side event
The Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism continues to be rocked by controversy. At a meeting on human rights in the CDM, two representatives for the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous community in Panama gave a powerful account of the negative impacts of the CDM-supported Barro Blanco Dam.

Chronology of Events for Barro Blanco Dam (Panama)

M10 protest on the Pan-American Highway, 2011
This chronology was compiled to provide a clear picture of the stakeholder activities surrounding the Barro Blanco Dam in western Panama since its inception. The sources of information include first-hand accounts, blogs, official documents, and media reports. While we hope this will provide a comprehensive and useful resource for those interested in the project, we cannot vouch for the accuracy of all the information listed here. We welcome any corrections and additions you may have. Compiled by Melissa Orozco, Latin America Communications Intern 1981General Omar Torrijos was forced to cancel

Make Your Voice Count on Human Rights Day

Make your voice count today – take action to defend the rights of communities fighting all over the world to protect the rivers that sustain them and to work for change in how and whether dams are planned, designed and built.


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