Success: Marine Sanctuary Expanded to Prevent Overfishing

Originally published on September 30, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

Goal: Applaud the president’s decision to dramatically expand the marine sanctuary near Hawaii

The steady decline of coral reefs and sea life has prompted President Obama to significantly expand a marine sanctuary near Hawaii. A previous ForceChange petition warned of the hazards of overfishing and the destruction wrought upon Hawaii’s marine life and ecosystems. This decision to expand the sanctuary is a huge step in the right direction, and the president should be commended for taking this action.

Established in 2009, the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument has now grown from 82,000 square miles to 490,000 square miles. The president’s decision has allowed the preserve to grow six times larger and nearly three times larger than California. Many endangered and species occupying this area include dolphins, whales, sea turtles, groupers, reef sharks, pearl oysters, coconut crabs, bumphead parrotfish, and giant clams.

Although Hawaiian tuna fishing companies fought against the idea, the White House has produced the largest marine reserve in the world completely off limits to commercial fishing and resource extraction. By invoking the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is granted the authority to enshrine unique natural and historic sites without congressional approval. The law has previously been invoked to protect landmarks including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

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Demand Justice for Assassinated Human Rights Activists

Originally published on September 28, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Nouri Abusahmain, President of the Libyan General National Congress

Goal: Investigate the assassinations of two teenage human rights activists

While campaigning for peace and democracy, two human rights activists were gunned down inside their car. Near midnight, three cars surrounded the teenage activists and shot them in cold blood. The Libyan government must track down their killers and provide justice to the families and friends of the murdered human rights activists.

Publicly standing against the bombings in Libya, human rights activists Tawfik Bensaud and Sami ElKawafi advocated for peace and democracy in their war-torn country. Eighteen-year-old activist and blogger, Bensaud, and 17-year-old activist, ElKawafi, had joined other youth activists to discuss crisis management in Libya. Days before his death, Bensaud told the media that, “A military movement alone cannot solve the crisis; there must be a civil movement that works parallel to it. If young people are given a chance, they can find a peaceful solution. My message to Libya’s youth is, you are powerful and you can make a change. You just need to take the opportunity and act.”

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Demand Justice for Human Rights Lawyer Attacked and Robbed

Originally published on September 27, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Lukas Enembe, Governor of Papua

Goal: Investigate the assault on a human rights attorney and the theft of her laptop and legal documents

While walking from the courthouse to her hotel, a human rights lawyer was stabbed and robbed in the street. Stealing her briefcase, the attackers fled with her laptop and the legal documents pertaining to a politically motivated case against her client. The government of Papua must investigate this attack and punish those responsible for assaulting a human rights attorney.

After leaving court for the day, human rights lawyer Latifah Anum Siregar was returning to her hotel when unknown assailants attacked her. While stealing her briefcase, one of the attackers stabbed her in the hand. Siregar is currently defending Areki Wanimbo, Head of the Lani Besar Tribal Council. He has been charged with separatism for allegedly helping French journalists to film a documentary about the separatist movement in the region. The French journalists were detained and charged with violating migration rules. They face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for filming this political documentary.

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Release Human Rights Activist Arrested for Using Twitter

Originally published on September 25, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain

Goal: Drop charges and release a human rights worker imprisoned for practicing free speech on Twitter

A prominent blogger and human rights activist has been arrested for posting comments on Twitter. After tweeting criticisms regarding a corrupt hospital administration, the activist has been detained and charged with defamation. The Bahraini government must release her immediately and drop the ridiculous charges against her.

Accused of posting insulting tweets, human rights activist Ghada Jamsheer has been arrested for attempting to engage in free speech. After criticizing the administration at King Hamad Hospital for their alleged corruption, Jamsheer was arrested and interrogated multiple times in an attempt to intimidate her. Although she did not call for violence or commit a violent crime, Jamsheer remains imprisoned.

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Success: Palm Oil Companies Place Moratorium on Deforestation

Originally published on September 24, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Sukanto Tanoto, Chairman of RGE; Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohd Bakke Salleh, President of Sime Darby; Bachtiar Karim, Chairman of Musim Mas; R. M. Allas, Chairman of KLK; and Lee Shin Cheng, Chairman of IOI Group

Goal: Applaud palm oil companies for placing a moratorium on deforestation

Five major palm oil companies have agreed to hold a moratorium on deforestation. Notorious for destroying large areas of rainforest to make room for their palm oil plantations, these companies consented to a 12-month moratorium on deforestation while an environmental impact study is being conducted. A previous ForceChange petition demanded an end to deforestation caused by palm oil companies in Indonesia. With this moratorium, we’ve taken a giant step towards that goal.

While environmentalists and ecologists conduct a High Carbon Stock study, which will identify forest containing significant amounts of carbon, five palm oil corporations agreed to cease cutting down rainforests during the course of the study. For the next 12 months, the study will review biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and socioeconomic impacts caused by massive land conversions.

After submitting to pressure from environmental groups, Sime Darby, Musim Mas, KLK, IOI Corporation, and Asian Agri agreed to end their rampant destruction of the rainforest while the study assesses the amount of damage that they have caused to the environment. Although the moratorium is temporary, these corporations should be applauded for taking a step in the right direction and will hopefully place a permanent moratorium on deforestation in the future.

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Restore Eroded Habitat to Save Water Vole from Extinction

Originally published on September 23, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Stop the dramatic decrease in water vole populations by recreating their destroyed habitats

Within the last 50 years, the water vole population in the U.K. has dropped by approximately 95 percent. The water vole is a semi-aquatic small mammal that resembles a rat. Water vole habitats have been deteriorating due to irrigation, watercourse management, and erosion. By recreating the lost habitats, the British government can give the water vole a chance to step away from the edge of extinction.

Fifty years ago, roughly eight million water voles populated the riverbanks and streams of the U.K. Their population has rapidly dropped to less than 200,000 water voles today. The leading cause is the rampant destruction of their breeding grounds and habitats. Unable to hide from predators or protect their young, the water vole population is dramatically decreasing.

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Drop False Charges Against Human Rights Activist

Originally published on September 21, 2014, at ForceChange.com

Target: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain

Goal: Release a human rights worker falsely charged with assaulting a police officer

After returning to Bahrain to visit her ill father, a human rights activist was detained at the airport on the claims that she did not have Bahraini citizenship. After showing them her Bahraini ID card, the human rights worker was imprisoned for several days and charged with insulting the king and assaulting a police officer. The government of Bahrain must release this activist and drop the false charges against her.

Human rights worker Maryam Al-Khawaja returned to Bahrain to visit her imprisoned father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja. Imprisoned for life for his participation in advocating for human rights, Abdulhadi began a hunger strike calling attention to the injustice and torture endured by him and his fellow prisoners. Instead of allowing Maryam to visit her ill father, Bahraini authorities arrested Maryam to silence her and her family.

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