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Trócaire launches new Human Rights Defenders campaign

14 August 2018

Human Rights Defenders protect their communities and the environment from exploitation and human rights abuses by businesses. They need your support.

Consuela Soto is a Human Rights Defender from the Tolupan indigenous community in Honduras. Her husband was murdered for trying to defend their rights to their land. Photo : Frank Mc Grath.

Consuela Soto is a Human Rights Defender from the Tolupan indigenous community in Honduras. Her husband was murdered for trying to defend their rights to their land. Photo : Frank Mc Grath.

Locals pay the price for profit

Across the world, there are some businesses willing to make a profit at any cost. Through corruption, intimidation, violence and even murder, they take land and natural resources from local communities. They are responsible for serious human rights violations. They push vulnerable communities further into poverty and despair.

In Honduras, where corruption and impunity is rife, indigenous communities have been pushed out of their homes and off their land. They have had their wood and water supplies stolen or destroyed by big corporations. They have been attacked and many within the community have been killed.

In Myanmar, significant water pollution caused by a large mining company has affected the health of local people, destroyed livelihoods and devastated nearby communities.

These communities face losing their land, their livelihoods and their loved ones as they struggle to hold on to what is theirs. 

But there are brave women and men – human rights defenders - standing up for their communities. They are speaking out against the acts of these powerful corporations.

Through our new campaign, Defend the Defenders, we share the stories of courageous people who risk their lives every day to defend human rights.   

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The reality of being a Human Rights Defender

In an attempt to silence the defenders, violent attacks, intimidation and false imprisonment are on the rise. But it doesn’t stop there. Many are murdered. 

In fact, last year was the deadliest year on record for human rights defenders across the world. 207 activists were killed for attempting to protect their communities, land and the environment from exploitation and human rights abuses.

Despite the growing risk, these courageous women and men are still willing to challenge these injustices and continue their important work. 

myanmar human rights defender

Daw Tin Hla, 61, lost her livelihood due to the pollution from the Heinda tin mine - one of the largest and oldest tin mines in Myanmar. Photo : Garry Walsh

You can help Defend the Defenders

We are calling for an International Treaty on Business and Human Rights. We need a Treaty which will hold private companies accountable and protect those who defend affected communities.

The Irish public can play an important role. As well as standing in solidarity with the human rights defenders, you can sign our petition and help put pressure on the Irish and UK governments to take action.

As one defender said: "It really motivates us to know that there are countries, like Ireland, who care about what is going on here and the fair cause we are fighting for. The fact that there is solidarity is important to us - we know then that the fight is not in vain and it is not one that we have to fight alone.” 

Stand with our Human Rights Defenders today

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