The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Blog June 4-10

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and human rights defender.

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.


his week we again call your attention to the coronavirus that is ravaging the world. If you wish to help victims of the virus, look up the appropriate agency in your country. We provide some recommendations for Israel and for the USA. For Israel, we provide here a detailed list of grantees of the New Israel Fund and their activities to ensure equality and compassion in the use of means provided by the government to all citizens of Israel, irrespective of their community, language or status. The covid-19 virus does not differentiate among its victims. During any public health crisis, equality and inclusion are not afterthoughts. During times like these, inequality becomes even more dire and dangerous. Because people on the margins of society are the most at-risk, their ability to access care and information is a matter of public safety — for everyone.

A most worthy recipient of your support is Doctors Without Borders who are making a special effort to work in countries with weak health systems. Here we show their belief that solidarity knows no borders.

MSF at work in Nepal
MSF resumes work in South Sudan after a hiatus caused by attacks on staff


Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming.

A major calamity for indigenous people is forced contact with outsiders. Please raise your voice for them and their right to live as they choose. In particular, the Covid19 virus is particularly dangerous for the tribes in the Brazilian jungles. Throughout the world there are many tribes who choose to avoid contact with the outside world. Today they are under a threat of extinction from Covid-19 and should be protected. It matters not whether death is brought by miners and loggers or by missionaries.

As you can see, the issue is not only Brazil, but worldwide. It goes far beyond the present crisis and has to do with the infringement of their basic rights in the name of so-called “progress.” For example we call your attention to the Baka people of Central Africa.

The Baka

The creation of a new protected area in northwest Congo threatens the survival of the Baka. And it is illegal.

The Baka are being driven from their land for fear of violence at the hands of park rangers, and excluded from the forests they rely on for food and for medicine. The Baka have not given their consent to the park.

Act now before this WWF-funded conservation project brings about the irreversible destruction of the Baka’s way of life.


We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.


You can download this book

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Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and raise your voice against the slave markets that are still running in Libya.



Victory for Labor Start Campaign

Union win! Sister Soy Sros release from prison in Cambodia after LabourStart campaign [IndustriALL] 2020-05-30.

You will recall that just two weeks ago we protested here against her detention.


Urgent Action Update: Man with Claims of Innocence Executed in Missouri

Walter Barton was executed on 19 May 2020. He was on death row in Missouri, USA since 2006 for the 1991 murder of a woman and always maintained his innocence. He faced five trials before being convicted and sentenced to death. Expert opinion and evidence, never heard by a trial jury, counter key elements of the prosecution’s theory which led to Barton’s conviction. The 19 May execution was the first in the USA since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. We will continue to urge authorities to end the use of the death penalty and stop any future executions. We have received updated information regarding this case and require no further action from the Urgent Action Network. Thank you to all those who sent appeals.


Cross dresser

Urgent Action: Protect Transgender and Intersex People’s Rights

On 28 May Hungary’s President signed a new law adopted by parliament on 19 May and whose Article 33 bans legal gender recognition for transgender and intersex people in violation of their human rights. Hungary’s Commissioner for Fundamental Rights must now urgently stop this law by requesting a review by the Constitutional Court. If the Commissioner fails to act quickly, the ban will be a flagrant attack on transgender and intersex people’s rights and will legitimize an increase of attacks and hate crimes against them.



Urgent Action Update: Disembark Asylum-Seekers Held on Ferry Boats

Since April, Maltese authorities have transferred asylum-seekers rescued in the central Mediterranean to private vessels used for coastal tourism and, under the pretext of COVID-19, have been holding them for days on those ferry boats off Malta’s territorial waters. The situation on board is becoming unbearable as the boats are not suited for long stays. Maltese authorities should end their arbitrary detention and immediately disembark them in Malta, ensuring they can apply for asylum and access adequate reception.



Urgent Action: Evictions of Vulnerable People

On 22 May 2020, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra extended strict measures to tackle COVID-19, including lockdowns and curfews until 30 June. Impacted by these measures, many vulnerable people, such as Venezuelan refugees, were left unprotected, are not able to pay their rent and are being evicted from their homes. A lack of protection of people’s right to housing in the government’s COVID-19 response puts Peruvians and Venezuelans at heightened risk of violations of their rights to housing and health. We call for urgent protection measures for refugees and people living in poverty.


MSF working in South Sudan

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