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March 19th, 2019

Join SERI in the fight to protect civil and socio-economic rights in South Africa

type:NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Despite having the most progressive constitution in the African continent, South Africa still grapples with rampant poverty and human rights violations—ranging from gender based violence to limited access to education.

As the country mentions its human rights month, in commemoration of the struggle for democracy, special attention is placed on the vast inequalities still prevalent in South Africa and on the methods in which they can be tackled.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) is a human rights organization dedicated to assisting individuals, communities, and social movements in the effort to protect their socio-economic rights.

Founded in 2009, the organization engages in expansive litigation, research, and advocacy efforts in order to advance and defend South Africans’ constitutional rights to water, housing, healthcare, fair labor practices, education, children’s rights, and more. SERI mostly operates in major South African cities, however some of its outreach work extends to rural provinces and areas as well.

SERI’s stance is that, “it is the people who are on the receiving end of poverty and inequality who are best placed to devise and implement strategies to challenge them,” and thus it seeks to also protect the spaces in which such individuals and communities can advocate for their own agendas for change.

Please visit SERI’s website to learn more about their work and open volunteer/internship positions.

Image credit: SERI website.
March 13th, 2019
by:Yair Oded

News about the purge of queers in Chechnya began to circulate, as more testimonies emerged from the southern Russian territory run by the tyrannical religious zealot Ramzan Kadyrov.

Since December 2018, a new wave of anti-queer purges began in Chechnya, with mounting reports about kidnap, imprisonment, torture, and even murder of individuals suspected to be LGBTQ.

The Russian LGBT Network is s non-governmental organization operating in Russia and Chechnya to protect the rights and lives of LGBTQ individuals. In addition to relentless advocacy work and the circulation of information aimed at increasing visibility of queer people and public awareness of their plight, the members of the organization operate a secret network of shelters for LGBTQ individuals persecuted across Russia.

They also smuggle food, medicine, and clothing to victims of the Chechen purge and help evacuate them to safety in the West.   

The organization depends on small donations to in order to maintain its crucial work and save lives in Chechnya and Russia.

Please visit their website to learn more about their work and place a donation.

Image credit: TheGayUK.
March 13th, 2019
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

The war raging in Afghanistan which often escapes global attention is that of Afghan women, who till this day remain marginalized in virtually all aspects of life.From education to healthcare to employment— Afghan women are often unable to access crucial services and enjoy the full rights of citizenship.

Despite the downfall of the Taliban regime, which control the country in the 1990’s, women in many parts of the country are still subject to arbitrary arrests and punishment (such as public lashings) for violating ‘moral codes’. The government also fails to properly protect women who are subject to domestic violence and abuse.

Since its foundation in 2011, Women for Afghan Women (WAW), has been working to fill in the gaps and support thousands of Afghan women and children in need throughout 13 provinces in the country.

Using grassroots tactics, WAW offer services such as refugee assistance, emergency medical care, legal aid and mediation, and elaborate human rights training in local communities for both women and men. WAW also operates long-term shelters for women and children who were victims of violence and abuse.

Additionally, the organization utilizes its New York and Washington, D.C. offices to provide support to female Afghan migrants in the United States (many of whom are asylum seekers), and lobby on behalf of them in the capital, so that lawmakers would take into consideration the human rights violations and challenges faced by women in Afghanistan.

To learn more about their services and make a donation, please visit WAW’s website.

Image Credit: Robert Mark via Flickr.
March 11th, 2019
type:Crowd Funding, Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Despite some improvements occurring in LGBTQ visibility and rights around the world, being LGBTQ is still legallly criminalized in over 70 countries. In 8 of those countries, being LGBTQ or engaging in same-sex sexual activity is punishable by death.

From murderous purges in Chechnya to executions in Saudi Arabia and violent attacks and torture in Africa and the Caribbean- queer people’s lives are still at risk in large swaths of the planet.   

Modeled after the monumental Underground Railroad, the Rainbow Railroad (RR) is a nonprofit organization working tirelessly to help LGBTQ people escape persecution in their home countries and bring them to safety in North America and Europe.

Relying on a global network of volunteers and private donations, RR provide support, guidance, and information to LGBTQ people who are in hiding and wish to escape their home country, supply financial means for travel to safety in the West, and assist them through the assimilation and asylum process in their host countries.

At any given moment, the organization works on an average of 30-50 cases of LGBTQ people seeking to flee danger in their countries of origin. Under the current climate, the numbers steadily rise.

Visit their website to learn about their work and get involved.

You may donate and help cover the cost of securing an LGBTQ person’s path to freedom (which averages at roughly $10,000), host a fundraising event, partake in sponsoring cases of newly arrived LGBTQ refugees in Canada, or volunteer with RR.

Image credit: Rainbow Railroad website.
March 08th, 2019
type:Donation, NGO, Protest, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Across the world, far-right elements have penetrated the socio-political discourse— garnering rising support of local populations by touting xenophobic sentiments and a rhetoric of “us” vs. “them”. They inspire hatred and suspicion by capitalizing on people’s most primal fears, prejudices, and insecurities— both financial and cultural.

As a result, oppression of racial minorities, immigrants, refugees, and women has exacerbated dramatically.

The Coalition Berlin is a Berlin-based NGO committed to dispelling racist and hateful sentiments and inspiring tolerance and social-equality.

They do so through a series of events, community actions, and rallies across the German capital.

“We will speak up against injustice and oppression wherever it occurs. We do not accept a world in which hate is used as a weapon and diversity seen as a threat.” the Coalition members declare in their manifesto.

Visit their website to learn more about their mission, event calendar, and ways in which you can get involved.
March 07th, 2019
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Grassroots International is an non profit organization working to forge connections between U.S. based groups and communities across the globe in order to help them tackle issues such as poverty and climate change-related disasters.

The organization places its focus on vulnerable communities in locations that range from Brazil to Asia, who deal with various socio-economic hardships and human rights violations and puts them in touch with American organizations and volunteers who can help them advance their causes.

Grassroots international organize rallies, fundraising campaigns, advocacy efforts, and operates a team of volunteers who together help to empower communities around the world in their fight for their right to land, water, and food as well as for climate justice.

Whether you’re interested in supporting indigenous people in Brazil whose lands are confiscated by the government, Guatemalan communities ravaged by mining projects, or feminist groups galvanizing support prior to Women’s Day, Grassroots International can put you in touch with local groups and situate you at the heart of the activism effort.  

Visit their website to learn how you can help spread their message and get involved.

Image credit: Grassroots International website.
March 05th, 2019
by:Yair Oded

The disastrous effects of the oil industry on our planet are acutely visible.

As stated by the IPCC in their 2018 report, the international community has to drastically reduce emissions by 2030 in order to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. This means divesting from oil and embracing new energy production technology.

Emboldened by a series of court victories against oil giants and successful climate initiatives launched by communities, civilians, nonprofits, and governments from across the globe— Greenpeace seek to step up the game and ensure that oil becomes a feature of the past.

Support Greenpeace by signing their People vs. Oil petition calling on global leaders to ban all new oil development and extraction, phase out production and sales of oil-operated vehicles, and transition to “people-centered, renewable energy and transport systems.”

You may also help by spreading the news and circulating the petition in your networks and social media platforms.

Time is of the essence. Every vote counts.

Let’s end oil. For good.

Image credit: Greenpeace website.
March 04th, 2019
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Treatment of immigrants in the United States (both documented and undocumented) is worsening rapidly. What was already a harsh reality for immigrants in previous years, has devolved under the current administration to an absolute nightmare— as the government issues more and more decrees that complicate the immigration and asylum process and render them increasingly treacherous and inaccessible.

Meanwhile, across the country, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has morphed into nothing short of an anti-immigrant army— employing inhumane tactics to intimidate immigrants and arrest them in their homes, jobs, in the streets, and even at courthouses while their non-immigration related cases are being deliberated.

The Immigrant Defense Project is a nonprofit organization working to protect immigrants (both documented and undocumented) across the United States. Among their many projects and campaigns, the organization provides tools and information for immigrants who are at risk of deportations and inform them of their rights.

They also launched an interactive map called ICE Watch, which tracks the location, time, and story of ICE raids committed in the northeast, and provide detailed information about recent tactics they employ to apprehend immigrants.

The organization lobbies with government and legislative authorities on behalf of immigrants in order to cease arrests at courthouses and halt deportations of immigrants who commit petty crimes, and adopt more substantial laws protecting them from abuse and arbitrary imprisonment and deportation by the immigration authorities.

They also provide training to litigators and volunteers dealing with immigration and immigrant detention cases.

Please visit their website to further acquaint yourself with the reality of immigrants in the U.S., learn about your rights as an immigrant, and figure out how you can help defend them as a lawyer or volunteer.

Image credit: AP file photo through
March 01st, 2019
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Stability has yet to reach the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country which has known incessant bloodshed, conflict, corruption, and poverty since the 1970’s. After 18 years in power, DRC’s leader, Joseph Kabila, has announced an election in which he ultimately lost to to Felix Tshisekedi, who took power in January 2019. Many argue, however, that Tshisekedi’s victory resulted from fraudulent elections, as his opponent, Martin Fayulu, was projected to win by a landslide. The growing assumption is that Tshisekedi had made a deal with Kabila, allowing him and the elite to remain involved in the country’s affairs.

Furthermore, while DRC’s government and financial elite have looted the country’s natural resources (through the support of greedy Western governments and corporations), the local population has been thrown into a growing humanitarian crisis- as poverty and disease ravage Congolese people across the country. Freedom of speech and dissent have been utterly stifled by the regime, and killings, abuse, and intimidation of journalists and political activists has been rife.

As Western governments and corporations gain from DR Congo’s corrupt regime, they are reluctant to exert any pressure on its authorities to adopt Democratic principles of governance. It is up to the people of the world, therefore, to raise their voice and join the Congolese people in their demand for justice.

Front Line Defenders (FDL), an NGO that monitors and supports human rights activists across the globe, has placed one of its focuses on the situation in DRC. FDL regularly publish and track cases of individuals harassed and arrested by the authorities in DRC for their humanitarian work and expression of dissent.

FDL also provide financial and medical aid to such local activists who face abuse or prosecution by the government.

Please visit their website to learn more about the situation unfolding in the DRC, and make sure that the country’s freedom fighters are supported by the international community.

Image credit: Front Line Defenders website.
February 28th, 2019
type:NGO, Petition
by:Yair Oded

For decades, the Saharawi people of Western Sahara have been pushing for independence from Morocco, which refuses to relinquish control of the region. Last December, another failed round of talks between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front has left Western Saharans under grave uncertainty regarding their future.

While the United Nations maintains its presence in the area through MINURSO (the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), it fails to oversee the humanitarian situation in the region and curb the numerous human rights violations taking place there— including gross violation of freedom of expression, movement, assembly, and the right to fair trial and freedom from torture.

Western Sahara Action Forum (WSAF) is a nonprofit working to pressure the UN Security council to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara alongside the renewal of the MINURSO mandate— until a free and fair referendum takes place to determine the future of the region’s residents.

In addition to gathering and circulating information regarding human rights abuses in the region, WSAF take actions to raise the issues with those in charge at the United Nations.

One of their campaigns invites supporters to draft and send letters to members of the UN Security Council regarding the issue.

Please visit their website to learn how you can help pressure the international community to take a stronger stance against human rights violations in a conflict zone that often fails to reach the public’s attention.