Arts for Human Rights
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation is hosting its first benefit gala "Arts for Human Rights."
Friday 14 October 2011
at Phillips de Pury & Company
Howick Place, London SW1P 1BB
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation is hosting its first benefit gala "Arts for Human Rights."
Friday 14 October 2011
at Phillips de Pury & Company
Howick Place, London SW1P 1BB
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation will be presenting awards to two inspiring figures at the Arts for Human Rights Gala, in honour of their outstanding contribution to human rights, social justice, and protection of the environment.
The renowned artist Ai WeiWei, who was unjustly incarcerated by the Chinese authorities, and who continues to be subject to arbitrary bail conditions, will receive the ‘Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Award for Courage’ in recognition of his heroic dedication to free speech and democratic principles.
Ai Weiwei has been fearless in speaking up for civil liberties. As he said in an interview on April 1st, 2011, in China "people with different minds and voices are being thrown into prison… Writers, artists, and commentators on websites are detained or thrown into jail when they reflect on democracy, opening up, reform and reason."1
Two days later, on the 3rd of April, Ai Weiwei was detained by Chinese authorities. On 22nd of June 2011, after 81 days imprisonment at an undisclosed location he was released on bail. Although no longer in jail, Ai Weiwei is not free yet. The artist is living under draconian conditions, with restrictions to his freedom of speech and movement. 2 He is confined to the house between 8 pm and 10 am, and prohibited from leaving Beijing for one year. There are suggestions that his communications, internet access and use of social media are being tightly controlled. According to Jerome Cohen, adjunct senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ai has "lost his freedom of speech" for at least a year.’ 3
These conditions are in contravention4 of his right to freedom, and to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 195 and Article 96, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which China is a signatory.
‘They can make me disappear,’ he said in an interview7 from his studio in China in September. ‘I have no protection, no lawyer. So I have to be careful… because I may lose my life. I don't think there is any form of law (that) can protect me.’
The BJHRF continues to campaign for Ai Weiwei’s unconditional freedom. Please sign the petition here.
Ai Weiwei is on the 2011 TIME 100 poll of the most influential people in the world8. TIME cites the ‘compassion’ he has shown for his fellow citizens, and how he has ‘spoken out for victims of government abuses, calling for political reforms to better serve the people. It is very sad,’ TIME says, ‘that the Chinese government has seen a need to silence one of its most innovative and illustrious citizens.’
Ai Weiwei is a hero for free speech. It is his courage that is the inspiration behind ‘Arts for Human Rights.’
CHIEF ALMIR NARAYAMOGA SURUI
Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Gamebey Clan of the Suruí People of Rondônia in Brazil, will be presented with the ‘Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Award for Leadership’ in recognition of his visionary leadership of the Surui people, and his courageous struggle in defence of their ancestral land in the Amazon.
The BJHRF recognises and honours Chief Almir’s commitment to the protection of the environment, and to the survival of his people.
Chief Almir is a pioneer, who has led the Surui with great wisdom and courage. In 2009 he forged a relationship with Google, who provided the Surui with smartphones, from which photos and videos are geo-tagged, and immediately uploaded to Google Earth. The tribe used the phones not only to create a cultural history, with stories from the tribe's elders on youtube, but to record environmental abuses and illegal logging on their land, to show the world what was happening to its most precious resource.
Chief Almir is a hero: faced with death threats from illegal loggers who want to plunder the Surui forests, from proponents of the mega-dam project that threatens huge tracts of the Amazon across Brazil, he refuses to back down. "There’s a price on my head,” says Chief Almir, “somewhere in the forest, someone is planning an ambush.”9 Undeterred by the threats, Chief Almir maintains that the Surui are the best custodians of their land.
As Joshua Hammer writes, in his in depth feature on Chief Almir in Smithsonian Magazine10, ‘The stakes are high. If indigenous peoples disappear, environmentalists say, the Amazon rain forest will likely vanish as well… "The fate of indigenous cultures and that of the rain forest are intricately intertwined," says Dr Mark Plotkin, founding director of Amazon Conservation Team “…Without the rain forest, these traditional cultures cannot survive… At the same time, indigenous peoples have repeatedly been shown to be the most effective guardians of the rain forests they inhabit.”’
“Illegal deforestation — carried out by loggers, ranchers, miners and intruders on indigenous territories,” says Chief Almir, “destroys the forest trees, kills birds by destroying their nests, kills animals that live off the fruits that grow there, and threatens indigenous peoples that live in forests and depend upon them. My people, the Surui Paiter, are living proof of what I say. We have long suffered the wrongful acts of loggers that steal our forests and threaten to kill our leaders."11
Chief Almir is a beacon of hope for the indigenous and tribal peoples of Brazil. As his colleague Vasco van Roosmalen12 says, "Without Almir, his work and leaders like him, the Surui would probably have joined tribes like the Ariquemes and disappeared into the vacuum of Rondônia history… One has to remember what stakes these people are facing. It is not one of poverty versus riches, but survival in the face of annihilation.
There is a strong connection between the desire for survival and the art of a people and a time.
- Antony Gormley
Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
I am deeply grateful to the artists who have made ‘Arts for Human Rights’ possible, by donating the wonderful works that you will find in this catalogue. Their generous donations will make a significant difference to the Foundation, enabling us to continue campaigning in defence of human rights, social justice and environmental protection.
‘Arts for Human Rights’ is the first Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF) Benefit Gala. It brings together my two great passions: human rights and the arts. The aim is to highlight the invaluable role that artists play in standing up for democratic principles, in defence of human rights, civil liberties and freedom of expression.
Throughout history, artists have recorded and denounced the abuses and horrors of their time, from the graphic depiction of war atrocities in Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War, to Picasso’s forceful reminder of the unprovoked attack on an undefended town ‘Guernica’ to Andy Warhol’s haunting image of the empty Electric Chair. Today artists around the world continue to defend these values.
The idea for the ‘Arts for Human Rights’ Gala came to me while I was campaigning, in my role as Chair of the BJHRF, on behalf of the courageous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was unjustly detained by the Chinese authorities earlier this year. I was inspired by his valiant stand in defence of free speech and human rights. Ai Weiwei’s life and work are emblematic of the values we are honouring at ‘Arts for Human Rights.’
Today, most young people have lost faith in politicians and big business. The creative community: artists, writers, film makers, musicians; have the opportunity to usher in a new era, to become role models, to lead the way in raising awareness and to stand up for human rights. I am a great believer in their power to make a difference.
For the past three decades, I have campaigned for peace and in defence of human rights and civil liberties, social and economic justice, and environmental protection.
In 2007, I founded the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation to be a force for change and a voice for the most vulnerable members of society. The BJHRF is dedicated to: defending human rights, achieving social justice, eradicating poverty, protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, speaking up for future generations and addressing the threat of catastrophic climate change. These issues may seem unrelated, but their causes, and their solutions, are interconnected. I have always addressed them with a holistic approach. I am a firm believer in Aristotle’s observation, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation owes a great deal to its Trustees for their support over the years: Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Mark Stephens CBE, Professor Julia Häusermann MBE, Barrie Collins, Dr. Maritta Koch-Weser and former Trustee Geoffrey Robertson QC. The legal team at Finers Stephens Innocent have my thanks for their tireless help with the Foundation’s legal affairs. The support of Thaddaeus Ropac, Eleanora Kennedy and Jay Jopling has also been invaluable.
Through ‘Arts for Human Rights’ the BJHRF is seeking to raise £2,000,000. With this funding we would be able to significantly broaden the range of our work. In the following pages I will briefly describe some of our activities, and how we could expand. The Foundation can only continue with the support of friends like you, who share our vision of a fair and just world.
Bianca Jagger is Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, Member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council, Amnesty International, USA. For over three decades she has been a voice for the most vulnerable members of society, campaigning for human rights, civil liberties, peace, social justice and environmental protection throughout the world.
She has been the recipient of many prestigious international awards for her human rights and humanitarian work. In 2004, she received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “alternative Nobel prize” for “her long-standing commitment and dedicated campaigning over a wide range of issues of human rights, social justice and environmental protection, including the abolition of the death penalty, the prevention of child abuse, and the rights of indigenous peoples to the environment that supports them and the prevention and healing of armed conflicts.” In 1997, she received the Amnesty International USA Media Spotlight Award for Leadership, “in recognition for her work on behalf of human rights around the world, exposing and focusing attention on injustice.” In 1994, she was awarded the United Nations Earth Day International Award for “her successful efforts to protect the livelihood of the indigenous peoples of Latin America, stopping the rain forest destruction in Nicaragua and Honduras.” She received the World Citizenship Award from The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2006 and World Achievement Award, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2004. For her environmental campaigning, she received the Green Globe Award from the Rainbow Alliance in 1997, and the United Nations Earth Day Award in 1994. For her work towards the abolition of capital punishment, she was awarded the American Civil Liberties Union Award in 1998, for “her commitment to international human rights, opposition to capital punishment and the promotion of civil rights.”
Ms Jagger has been awarded three doctorates, honoris causa: a Doctorate in Law from the University of East London in 2010, a Doctorate of Human Rights from Simmons College, Boston in 2008; and a Doctorate of Humanities from Stonehill College, Massachusetts in 1983.
She was born Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias in 1950, in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. After her parents’ divorce, she was raised by her mother. Witnessing the discrimination of a patriarchal society against a single working woman inspired the young Bianca to become an instrument of change in the world. She was determined never to be regarded as a second-class citizen because of her gender.
As a teenager, she participated in student demonstrations against the terrors inflicted by President Anastasio Somoza's National Guard. This inspired her to pursue her interest in politics. She received a scholarship to study political science in France at the Paris Institute of Political Science. It was there that she discovered the value of freedom and democracy, the rule of law, judicial review, habeas corpus and respect for human rights - concepts she had only dreamt about in Nicaragua.
In December 1972, she returned to Nicaragua to look for her parents after a devastating earthquake destroyed her home town of Managua, fortunately her parents survived. She discovered that aid, from the U.S. and elsewhere, was not going to the victims but was being misappropriated by the Somoza regime. It was these ruthless acts of pillage that eventually fuelled the Sandinista Revolution and motivated her to fight repression, corruption and injustice. After her visit to Nicaragua, Ms Jagger urged the Rolling Stones to do a relief concert. In 1993 they performed one of the first relief concerts in L.A to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake.
In the spring of 1979 she joined forces with the British Red Cross to raise funds for the victims of the conflict in Nicaragua; she then flew to her homeland to join the International Red Cross to help on the ground. 1979, the year of her divorce, coincided with the fall of the Somoza dictator.
In 1981 Ms Jagger travelled to Honduras on a US Congressional fact-finding mission, visiting a UN refugee camp, 20 km from the border of El Salvador. During her visit to the camp an armed death squad crossed the border from El Salvador, with the Honduran army’s blessing, entered the camp and rounded up about forty refugees to take them back to El Salvador. Ms Jagger, the delegation and the relief workers feared that the death squads were going to kill the hostages once they arrived in Salvadorian territory. Armed only with cameras, they followed the death squad and hostages for half an hour. Finally, they came within earshot of them. The death squad turned, brandishing their M-16's. Fearing for their lives, Ms Jagger and the relief workers began to shout, “You will have to kill us all,” and, “We will denounce your crime to the world.” There was a long pause. The death squad talked among themselves and, without explanation, left, leaving their hostages free - unharmed. This experience was a turning point for Ms Jagger, marking the beginning of her human rights campaigning. She realised the importance of bearing witness when innocent people’s lives are at stake, how a small act of courage can make a difference, and sometimes save lives. Upon her return to the US, Ms Jagger testified before The Congressional Subcommittee on Inter-American Affairs, to bring attention to the atrocities committed by the Salvadorian government and its paramilitary forces, with the complicity of the Honduran Government.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990’s, Ms Jagger worked closely with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office for Latin America. She continued campaigning against oppressive governments throughout Latin America, including in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and denouncing the US’s support of the Contra war in Nicaragua.
In 1993 she visited Bosnia, to document the mass rape of women in the former Yugoslavia. She wrote a decisive essay: ‘J’accuse: the Betrayal of Srebrenica,’ a detailed account of the massacre in Srebrenica, which was published world-wide. In July 1995, when the United Nations “safe area” of Srebrenica in Bosnia was overrun by Bosnian Serb troops, some 8,000 civilians (virtually the entire male population) were systematically massacred. Since then, Ms Jagger has spoken on behalf of the survivors. For many years she campaigned to stop the genocide taking place in Bosnia and, later, to make the perpetrators accountable before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She has testified on this issue before the Helsinki Commission on Human Rights, the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the International Operations Subcommittee on Human Rights, and the British and European Parliaments.
Ms Jagger is a staunch defender of indigenous and tribal rights in Latin America and elsewhere. In 1991 she proved instrumental in stopping a logging concession that would have endangered the Miskito Indians’ habitat on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. She supported the Guarani in southern Brazil, in their campaign to protect their land from cattle ranchers, and engaged in a similar effort to protect the Yanomami of northern Brazil from invasions of their lands by gold miners. She has also supported the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani in their battle against Texaco in Ecuador. Ms Jagger and the BJHRF are campaigning in support of Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, of the Surui tribe in Brazil, to raise awareness of their struggle to defend their ancestral land, in the Amazon, from the encroachments of logging, damming and mining companies. Ms Jagger is also campaigning against the Brazilian government’s plan to build over 60 dams in the Amazon region. The area where the dams are planned is currently home to 400,000 indigenous people, whose livelihoods will be directly threatened; the human and environmental consequences of the dams would be devastating.
During the last two years, the BJHRF has supported the Kondh tribe in Orissa, India, campaigning to protect their sacred Niyamgiri Mountain from the proposed bauxite mine by Vedanta Resources Plc, a British-based mining company. Ms Jagger visited the Kondh in Orissa, with ActionAid, appealed to government officials in India, spearheaded a letter campaign to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik, and in cooperation Amnesty and ActionAid, appealed to UK shareholders to withdraw their investments in Vedanta, and attended and spoke at two Vedanta AGMs in London. On 24 August 2011, Indian Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh refused permission for the mining project.
As Chair of the BJHRF Ms Jagger is advocating critical reforms to our model of development, which needs to encompass principles of justice, respect for human rights, democracy, good governance, accountability, the protection of the environment and sustainability. She is calling for a shift in our fundamental values. Development should take into account the needs and aspirations of all sectors of society: local communities and indigenous and tribal people. The new model of development needs to move away from our obsession with profit and growth and, instead, focus on sustainability.
Ms Jagger denounced the invasion of Iraq, as an ‘illegal, immoral and unwinnable war’ which undermines the rule of international law. She visited Baghdad in the run-up to the war in early 2003 with a peace delegation of US academics.
In 2003 she was made Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. In 1996 she was awarded the “Abolitionist of the Year Award” by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for “her tireless efforts and heroic dedication in achieving clemency for Guinevere Garcia”. Since then, she has campaigned on behalf of numerous prisoners on death row. In June 2000, she travelled to Texas to meet with Gary Graham and plead on his behalf with Governor George W Bush. Gary Graham was 17, a minor when he was sentenced to death. At his request, she was one of the official witnesses at his execution. Ms Jagger received the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer Champion of Justice Award in 2000.
Ms Jagger continues to denounce the lack of meaningful appellate review in commutation proceedings. In her role as Founder and Chair of the BJHRF, she is currently supporting the cases of Linda Carty, a British grandmother on death row in Texas, Reggie Clemons, who is appealing for clemency in the state of Missouri, and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43 year old mother of two, who was sentenced to death by stoning in Iran. Ms Jagger and the BJHRF led the "Too Much Doubt" Twitter campaign with Amnesty International on behalf of Troy Davis, an innocent man who was executed by the State of Georgia, USA, on September 21st, 2011. On 24 February 2010, Ms Jagger delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 4th Annual Congress against the Death Penalty at the UN in Geneva.
Under the auspices of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, Ms Jagger has been working to develop a legal framework that will enable us to hold accountable CEOs and management of companies committing human rights abuses and environmental destruction. She advocates the development of a definition of Crimes Against Present and Future Generations, and for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its jurisdiction, to cover Crimes Against Present and Future Generations that are not already proscribed by the ICC’s Rome Statute as Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, or Crimes of Genocide. “Crimes against future generations of life” are acts or conduct committed with the knowledge of their severe consequences on the health, safety, or means of survival of present and future generations of humans, and their threat to the survival of entire species or ecosystems.
Ms Jagger has participated in numerous television and radio debates and lectures throughout the world about Central America, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, genocide, war crimes, the war on terror and the ensuing erosion of civil liberties and human rights, Crimes against Present and Future Generations, climate change, the rainforest, the protection of indigenous peoples, corporate social responsibility, children and women’s rights, human trafficking, and the death penalty. She has participated on the BBC’s Question Time, Newsnight, Panorama and CNN. She has written articles for the opinion pages of the Observer (UK), The Guardian (UK), The Independent (UK), The Mail on Sunday (UK), The Sunday Express (UK) The New Statesman (UK), the European (UK) The New York Times (USA), the Washington Post (USA), The Dallas Morning news (USA), the Columbus Dispatcher (USA), The Huffington Post (USA) Liberation (FR), Le Journal du Dimanche (FR), Le Juriste International (FR), and Panorama (IT) among others.
Bianca Jagger is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a great believer in the power of social media, and tweets regularly.
You can make donations and gifts to the foundation via the handheld devices on the tables, and to the following bank account.
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
Coutts & Co
Sort Code: 180002
Account Number: 07906404
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
Coutts & Co
440 Strand, London WC2R 0QS
Sort Code: 180002
Account Number: 07906404
IBAN Number: GB97COUT18000207906404
The BJHRF is dedicated to research, education and advocacy. The Foundation has already made a significant impact in several vital areas.
Death penalty: in my role as Founder and Chair of the Foundation I have appealed for clemency on behalf of numerous prisoners on death row. Since its inception, the BJHRF has been calling for the worldwide abolition of capital punishment.
Climate change: the BJHRF addresses this issue through research, advocacy, media campaigns, and participation at global climate conferences. The BJHRF is calling for a comprehensive, just, legally binding treaty, the investment and transfer of technology to developing countries, adequate adaptation and mitigation mechanisms and implementation measures, and a REDD agreement with safeguards for tribal and indigenous peoples’ rights. The BJHRF will be at COP17 in South Africa.
Protection of the environment and the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples is critical to the survival of the remaining forests, biodiversity, and the planet. Indigenous peoples are the natural custodians of the lands and forests where they live, eat, and work. To involve them in conservation is not only a historic responsibility; it is an act of self-preservation. Defence of the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples are at the heart of the mandate of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.
Defending the rights of women and children: The BJHRF campaigns against the abhorrent practice of human trafficking. I have collaborated with Christian Aid, and consulted with grassroots organisations to raise awareness of the trafficking of women and children in India. I have worked with Sanlaap and the Sneha Affection Shelter which houses children rescued from trafficking, who are living with HIV and AIDS.
Crimes Against Present and Future Generations: The BJHRF has been working with Professor Otto Triffterer, Former Dean of the Law Faculty of the University of Salzburg, and Editor of the Commentary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to draft a definition of Crimes Against Present and Future Generations.
The BJHRF is a small organisation, with a dedicated team. Since its inception we have had the invaluable pro bono support of human rights lawyers, the generosity of academics who donate their expertise, and volunteers who give their time. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ActionAid and Reprieve. I cannot express my gratitude strongly enough to all those who have helped the Foundation on its way.
I would like to take this opportunity to describe how, with your support, the Foundation can significantly expand its work in four major areas.
As Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador and Chair of the BJHRF I have campaigned on behalf of numerous prisoners on death row over the past 20 years. In 2000 I witnessed the execution of Gary Graham, an innocent man, in Texas, who was under 18 years of age when he was sentenced to death. I have petitioned Governors and testified before and petitioned State Boards of Pardon and Paroles, led media campaigns, given lectures and speeches, and written articles appealing for clemency for individual prisoners. With more resources, The BJHRF could widen the scope of its campaigns for prisoners on death row, and the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
Recently I advocated on behalf of Troy Davis, an innocent man who was executed in the state of Georgia, on the 21st of September 2011. I appealed to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and published two articles in the Huffington Post1. I raised awareness through social media, and led the "Too Much Doubt" Twitter campaign with Amnesty International.
Troy Davis should never have been executed. The US judicial system failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. His execution, under those circumstances, was an appalling miscarriage of justice. The similarities between Gary Graham’s and Troy Davis’s cases are shocking. I am sickened by the thought that another innocent man was executed.
Over the years I have witnessed the state machinery of death at work, selectively killing people because they are poor, members of a minority and cannot afford adequate legal counsel. Capital punishment is nothing less than state-sanctioned murder.
With increased funding, our campaign on behalf of prisoners on death row could be more effective. We could continue to raise awareness about their individual cases, carry out more ground level advocacy to mobilise more public support for those facing execution. We could visit them on death row and speak out on behalf of more prisoners than we are currently able to do. We could use media and social networking more effectively, and campaign more vigorously for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
The BJHRF advocates for the extension of the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, to cover Crimes Against Present and Future Generations that are not already proscribed by the ICC’s Rome Statute as Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, or Crimes of Genocide. With more resources, the Foundation could continue to work with legal experts and scholars to develop a legal definition and framework of Crimes Against Present and Future Generations; and continue to strive for the establishment and reinforcement of new and existing binding treaties and mechanisms in national and international law.
Some of the worst environmental disasters and human rights abuses happening in the world today are caused by the irresponsible actions of multinational corporations. In their irrational pursuit of our planet’s natural resources, they have destroyed ecosystems, wiped out precious biodiversity, fauna and flora, and endangered the livelihood of communities worldwide. Some companies are putting at risk the survival of present and future generations, and contributing to catastrophic climate change. The BJHRF aims to bring the rights of present and future generations to the centre of policy-making, and to develop a legal framework that will enable us to hold accountable CEOs and management of companies committing human rights abuses and environmental destruction.
The BJHRF will broaden its campaign for sustainability and for critical reforms to our model of development, encompassing principles of justice, respect for human rights, good governance, accountability, and environmental protection. The funds raised during the ‘Arts for Human Rights’ Gala Auction will enhance our capacity to campaign for the protection of the environment, on behalf of present and future generations, and the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.
The Brazilian government has plans to build over 60 dams in the Amazon region. There are grave concerns that there has been no proper assessment of sustainability, and the long term impacts of such a colossal project. Philip M. Fearnside states that ‘The… dams planned upstream (including the Altamira/Babaquara Dam) indicate the need for Brazil to reform its environmental assessment and licensing system to include the impacts of multiple interdependent projects.’2 The dams will contribute to climate change by facilitating the destruction of vast areas of Amazonian rainforest and increasing the release of dangerous greenhouse gases. The downstream impact on reliable water resources is likely to be severe and there are concerns that mega-dams will increase the risk of drought in the Amazon, drying out the forest and reducing its long term ability to safely store millions of tonnes of carbon. The area where the dams are planned is currently home to 400,000 indigenous people, whose livelihoods will be directly threatened. The human and environmental consequences of the dams will be devastating.
This project must not go ahead. It is unthinkable that the way of life of tens of thousands of people, and a vast, irreplaceable natural resource should be destroyed in the name of progress. I hope that ‘Arts for Human Rights’ can generate enough revenue to support the indigenous communities whose livelihoods are at stake, with an effective advocacy and media campaign. This would demand field visits and research in the Amazon, close liaison with local communities, grassroots organisations, and government officials.
The BJHRF has been campaigning on behalf of the Kondh tribe, to save the mountain of Niyamgiri, in Orissa, India, which is threatened by a proposed bauxite mine by British mining giant, Vedanta. The lush forests of Niyamgiri are a pristine ecosystem, identified by the Wildlife Institute of India as being of 'great conservation significance.’ The mine would threaten the social, economic and cultural survival of the Kondh people, and irreparably damage the environment in the region.
In 2010 I visited Niyamgiri, the site of the proposed mine, where Vedanta’s existing refineries have already had terrible human and environmental consequences. I was shocked, and saddened by what I saw. I have written numerous articles about the plight of the Kondh, including ‘The Battle for Niyamgiri,’ for the Observer3. After concerted campaigning by the BJHRF in co-operation with Amnesty International and ActionAid, major investors were persuaded to withdraw from Vedanta4. But the struggle is not over yet. The Kondh, and countless other indigenous and tribal peoples, and other unique irreplaceable ecosystems and environments are at risk. The Kondh's battle to save their livelihoods illustrates the struggle for survival that tribal and indigenous peoples are facing throughout the world.
The BJHRF considers combating climate change to be the overriding moral imperative of our time; not just an environmental threat, but a critical human rights issue which impacts every aspect of our lives. Raising awareness about climate change is a priority. With your help, the BJHRF can broaden the range of its research and advocacy on this urgent issue.
The warnings from our most respected scientists are loud and clear: we have less than a decade left to address the issue of climate change before we reach the “tipping point”, or point of no return. Temperatures are rising, and will continue to rise. Weather patterns across the world are becoming more erratic. Glaciers are melting, and will continue to melt, causing sea levels to rise even higher.
Climate change, if allowed to continue, will affect everyone, everywhere, in every nation and from every socio-economic group, in hundreds of ways: from flash floods to unprecedented droughts; from desertification of productive farmland to the mass migration to already overcrowded cities; from the effects of sea level rises to the acidification of the oceans. It will ultimately threaten the security of nations.
With increased funding the BJHRF can continue to diversify its work, to raise awareness of the impending crisis, to educate and mobilise young people, institutions, business and the public at large; to hold governments accountable, and urge them to fulfil their pledges to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, the climate crisis is also a major opportunity to make a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and towards a world powered by the renewable energy of the sun, the wind, the waves and other renewable resources.
I hope that with your help, we can work towards protecting our future, the fate of present and future generations and the future of all other species on this planet. The wonderful logo that Marc Quinn has designed for the BJHRF expresses it perfectly: we must all together, keep an eye on the world.
These are some selected areas in which the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation works. For a more detailed description of the BJHRF’s objectives and activity, please contact the Foundation.
New Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation website is launching soon.
2 ‘Dams in the Amazon: Belo Monte and Brazil’s Hydroelectric Development of the Xingu River Basin’ Philip M. Fearnside, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amaz nia-(INPA) 69.011-970 Manaus-Amazonas, Brazil
+44 (0)20 7361 0077
The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (registered charity no. 1117142) is a registered charity in England and Wales.