Tag Archives: human rights

Apple, Intel-Backed Rules on Conflict Minerals Stall Exports

What are conflict minerals, you ask?  Here’s the short and sweet scoop from the Enough project:

And now the good news from Bloomberg’s Michael Kavanaugh.  Check out the full article here.

Rules backed by Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Intel Corp. (INTC) to stop sales of minerals used in electronics from funding war in Central Africa took effect today, forcing miners from the region to seek new buyers in Asia, according to exporters.

“There is a de-facto embargo, it’s very clear,” said John Kanyoni, president of the mineral exporters association of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We’re committed to continue with all these programs. But at the same time we’re traveling soon to Asia to find alternatives.”

Asian consumption is growing to feed booming manufacturing, with copper demand in China, the biggest user of industrial metals, seen rising an average 7 percent a year from 2010 to 2014, more than double the rate of North America, RBS Global Banking and Markets says. China’s mine investments have shifted to Africa from Australia and Canada, Ernst & Young LLP said.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will also issue regulations to stem purchases of so-called “conflict minerals” this month, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed by President Barack Obama in July.

U.S. companies will be required to audit mineral supplies next year to identify purchases that may be tainted by the Congo fighting, according to draft SEC regulations.

African traders want more time to implement programs to track minerals before the new rules take effect, Kanyoni said. An embargo may affect more than 200,000 artisanal miners in Congo, according to Pact, a Washington-based development group helping to implement mineral tracing programs in the region.

Asian manufacturers are unlikely to make up for declining demand and the higher prices paid by producers in the West, Jason Stearns, former head of a United Nations expert group monitoring sanctions on Congo, said by e-mail today.

“There also may be challenges in separating domestic and international supply chains in India and China to make sure that minerals from eastern Congo do not enter products destined for the U.S.,” Stearns said in response to questions.

Congo is struggling to cut links between armed groups and the mineral trade that have fueled more than a decade of war in eastern provinces. The country is the largest producer of tin ore in Africa and has significant reserves of coltan, tungsten and gold, almost all mined by independent diggers.

The government has been working with industry groups, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the UN to develop tracing and certification programs. While there has been some success in removing armed groups from mine sites, Congolese soldiers are still involved in smuggling minerals in the east, according to the Ministry of Mines.

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Prisoners on Nonviolent Strike in Georgia

Text from NY Times article “Prisoners Strike in Georgia” by Sarah Wheaton, December 12, 2010.

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In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

Here is the original press release describing the goals of the nonviolent prison strike found at Black Agenda Alert.

Chief among the prisoners’ demands is that they be compensated for jailhouse labor. They are also demanding better educational opportunities, nutrition, and access to their families.

“We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason,” said the Hays inmate. “But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”

Press Release

BIGGEST PRISONER STRIKE IN U.S. HISTORY

Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010?Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211, sistaelaine@gmail.com;Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348, lashan123@att.net; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046

Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights.  The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (?DOC?) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights.  They have set forth the following demands:

  • A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK:  In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.
  • EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:  For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.
  • DECENT HEALTH CARE:  In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.
  • AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS:  In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.
  • DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS:  Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.
  • NUTRITIONAL MEALS:  Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.
  • VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.
  • ACCESS TO FAMILIES:  The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.
  • JUST PAROLE DECISIONS:  The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: No more slavery.  Injustice in one place is injustice to all.  Inform your family to support our cause.  Lock down for liberty!

“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer.

Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.

The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

“We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone.

Several inmates, who used cellphones to call The Times from their cells, said they found out about the protest from text messages and did not know whether specific individuals were behind it.

“This is a pretty much organic effort on their part,” said Ms. Brown, a longtime prisoner advocate, who distilled the inmates’ complaints into a list of demands. “They did it, and then they reached out to me.” Ms. Brown, the founder of the National Alliance for Radical Prison Reform in Locust Grove, Ga., said she has spoken to more than 200 prisoners over the past two days.

The Corrections Department placed several of the facilities where inmates planned to strike under indefinite lockdown on Thursday, according to local reports.

“We’re hearing in the news they’re putting it down as we’re starting a riot, so they locked all the prison down,” said a 20-year-old inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, who also refused to give his name. But, he said, “We locked ourselves down.”

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Interesting the NY Times article ends with a quote from the Hays inmate: “We committed the crime, we’re here for a reason.  But at the same time we’re men. We can’t be treated like animals.”

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Mexican transgender asylum seeker allowed to stay in U.S.

Last week I read The Straight State in which historian Margot Canaday traces the history of homosexuality in the twentieth century through the lens of the state.   Although in America there is currently an outlook that the issue of homosexuality has always been black and white, Canaday reveals this assumption to be false by showing how, through immigration, military, and welfare, the US government increasingly defined citizenship as white, middle class, male, and heterosexual.

In regards to the issue of immigration, Canaday found unbelievably amazing immigration records in which men and women were denied entry into the US due to their suspected “sexual perversions,” which could have been anything from having no facial hair (for men) to wearing pants (for women).  Transgenders and homosexuals were repeatedly turned away because of their sexuality.

Alexandra Reyes’s case proves a remarkable turning point in America, as it shows that Americanism does not equate sexual or gender normalcy.

Here is an excerpt from Felisa Cardona’s Denver Post article.  Read more here.

Reyes begins to cry as she remembers her father using a branch from a tree to beat her that was lined with sharp spikes. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post.

When Alexandra Reyes’ father caught her wearing her sister’s shoes and clothes, he tied her up and beat her with spiked pieces of a tree.

“It was so horrible, I would scream,” Reyes said in Spanish. “He told me he had a son, not a daughter, and he did not accept me.”

Last week, an immigration judge granted Reyes a form of asylum that allows her to stay in the U.S. based on the persecution she suffered as a transgender woman in Mexico.

The Board of Immigration Appeals withheld her removal from the U.S. after determining the Mexican government would not protect her from abuse if she was deported.

“It would be physically dangerous for her to walk down the street,” said her attorney, Bryon Large. “She could be sexually assaulted.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not keep statistics on the numbers of transgender immigrants granted asylum. But Large said the relief Reyes got is rare for a Mexican national because some immigration judges think there is tolerance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Mexico.

Same-sex marriage is allowed in Mexico City, and many gay tourists flock to beach resorts throughout the country, leading to the misconception that the country is welcoming, said

Large, who argues that pockets of intolerance abound in rural Mexico.  In defending Reyes, one of the cases Large used to persuade the board was of a gay Mexican immigrant who fled to Canada but was denied asylum. After he was deported back to Mexico, he was killed.

Asylum is easier to obtain for immigrants from countries such as Jamaica, where gays are imprisoned, or Iran, where members of the LGBT community are executed, Large said…

She takes female hormones but has not yet had sexual reassignment surgery. She finds the American people accepting of her differences.

“What I have seen here is people are more open than people from my country,” she said. “Sometimes I miss Mexico, but I am scared to return.”

Read more: Mexican transgender asylum seeker allowed to stay in U.S. – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16560073?source=rss#ixzz1553qO4vo

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