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Issue 11

June 2013

in the park

The IF campaign hits Botanic Gardens Belfast

Jorge Freytter

The Colombian human rights campaigner who paid the ultimate price

GAZA

Teaching the children amongst the rubble




June 2013

Chairperson’s Farewell Address I am delighted to endorse the June 2013 Global Solidarity Newsletter which once again contains excellent articles on many issues that your Global Solidarity Committee is involved with. This is actually my final Chairperson’s Foreword as I leave the Global Solidarity Committee at the end of this year’s NIPSA conference due to my forthcoming retirement in September 2013. May I say it has been a fantastic 10 years or so as a member of the Global Solidarity Committee and an absolute honour to be Vice Chairperson for three years and Chairperson for the last four. It really has been one of the most rewarding things that I have done as part of my NIPSA activity and my only regret is that I did not become involved much sooner. Obviously I feel that the NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee has done and continues to do an incredible job in supporting and helping our fellow brothers and sisters throughout the world. Should it be helping to tackle world poverty, supporting workers and trade unionists worldwide in their fight for decent fair pay and proper working conditions, campaigning for human rights and justice for all and just helping to promote freedom, good practice and solidarity globally! To do all this the Global Solidarity Committee needs your support! I do not apologise for pleading one final time. If you do not already donate to the NIPSA Developing World Fund then please do so now! It is still a fact that there could be many more projects assisted through the NIPSA Developing World Fund if we had more funding from you the member! Think about it, Think about it very carefully?

It’s a very simple this? By putting a

I could not complete this final foreword without thanking people who during my time on the Global Solidarity Committee have made it all the more pleasing and gratifying. Firstly there are the previous chairs of the Global Solidarity Committee since my joining who I learnt from and put into practice what I’d learnt when I became Chair. Secondly there are the members of committee throughout the years, too many to name personally, who have given passionately and supported me 100% , I thank you all. Thirdly there are you the members, especially those who became Global Solidarity Champions, who have also encouraged me throughout the years. Again I thank you all. Lastly, but certainly far from least I wish to express my enormous gratitude to Geraldine Alexander, the NIPSA HQ official with responsibility for the Global Solidarity Committee. Geraldine has been an unbelievable assistance to me and the committee over many years. Without her the Global Solidarity Committee would not be the entity it is today and I take this opportunity to express a massive thanks to her for all she has done, continues to do and will continue to do in servicing and promoting NIPSA’s Global Solidarity work. Can I end by wishing the new incoming Global Solidarity Committee continued success and the new Chair and Vice Chair a rewarding and pleasant year. Keep up the excellent work!

© Andrew Aitchison

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3   Enniskillen, delegates  add NIPSA Conference their signatures to the IF campaign

June 2013

not, why not?

message...there is enough food for everyone…how to help pay for a end to the world’s tax havens! In spite of the heavy rain thousands of people turned out for the BIG IF Belfast held on Saturday 15 June in the city’s Botanic Gardens. The event was organised by the “Enough Food for Everyone IF” campaign in Northern Ireland.

major firms – Google, Apple, Starbucks and Amazon – have minimised their tax bills. Illegal activities, including tax evasion and money laundering, will be tackled by automated sharing tax information.

However, poor countries haven’t been Just two days before the start of the G8 included in this deal, so authorities in the Summit at Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, developing world won’t be able to access the people of Northern Ireland sent a clear this information to claim back tax owed to message to the world leaders that it’s time them – funds which could have been spent to tackle global hunger and save the lives dealing with hunger and malnutrition. of millions. The test of this year’s G8 summit was whether they agreed to an ambitious plan to tackle tax dodging that could benefit all countries. Specifically, they had to agree One of the Campaign’s Big IF’s was to put a to shine a light on phantom firms and support a new standard on tax information stop to tax dodging by large corporations. exchanged from which all can benefit. They The G8 agreement means that more tax failed to deliver on this for the poorest authorities will be able to find out who owns countries battling hunger who can’t afford so-called phantom firms (companies which to wait to be included. Urgent work is operate as a front for other organisations as therefore needed on a timeline of when a way to siphon cash through tax havens) this tax information will be shared with and crack down on tax dodging. It follows developing countries. revelations about the way in which several

G8 Tax Deal Leaves Major Unfinished Business




June 2013

Another Big ‘IF’ was land grabs. The G8 committed to improve transparency in land investments and establish partnerships with developing countries to advance land rights in line with UN-standards. While a step in the right direction far more is needed, and the G8 needs to show it will really get to grips with the problem by regulating G8-based companies involved in land deals, and leading more ambitious global efforts to tackle land grabs.

Jim Broadbent gave a powerful rendition of the Seamus Heaney poem, For the Commander of The Eliza, about the Irish Famine at the BIG IF Belfast.

On agriculture the response from the IF campaign is the G8 missed an opportunity to boost public investment in the small farmers that feed a third of the world’s population. The expansion of the New Alliance is not the answer to decades of declining aid to agriculture. It urgently needs to reform further and faster to ensure it helps smallscale farmers, particularly women, and respects land rights.

© Neil Harrison

Sudatan a speaker from Bangladesh, described the land grabs used for prawn farming are leaving people with no where to grow crops.

Preparing the road for the G8 Summit the NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee held an event on Tax Justice in the Grosvenor Hall, Belfast on 28 February 2013. Following the event we reproduced the speech made by John McVey, NIPSA Policy and Research Officer, into a publication entitled “Who Opposes Tax Justice?” This publication is available to download from the NIPSA Website http://tinyurl.com/pdartss

© Andrew Aitchison

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Who Opposes Tax Justice?

June 2013

At the Tax Justice event in February David Thomas from Christian Aid explains the methods used by multi nationals to legally move their profits to tax havens worldwide.

John McVey’s publication ‘Who Opposes Tax Justice?’ is available from the NIPSA website, or NIPSA HQ.


June 2013

Seeking Amnesty NIPSA members attend the 2013 Amnesty International Conference and AGM

However there was some uncertainty about the Amnesty International UK restructuring plans as the AGM adopted a resolution from the Board calling for the restructuring proposals to proceed and also a resolution from Unite calling for a stop to the proposals and for the Board to engage in a full meaningful consultation and negotiation on the issue. Obviously NIPSA was in full support of Unite’s motions in backing our trade union brothers and The methods used for running their conference are sisters and their fight for their jobs. unlike any other conference and certainly Michael Even though this put a bit of a dampener on the had his eyes opened to Amnesty International’s conference I can still say that I enjoyed it and was procedures. However once these had been again honoured to be given the opportunity to acknowledged by Michael we both went on to represent NIPSA at such a high profile and important conference. I know that I can also speak for Michael in participate and enjoy the Conference and AGM. We both contributed well in representing NIPSA that he felt the same. Early morning on Saturday 13th April 2013 Michael Herron and myself travelled to Warwick University as the 2 NIPSA delegates to the 2013 Amnesty International Conference and AGM. We joined many hundreds of other delegates from across the UK representing other Trade Unions, Youth Groups, Community Groups and Local Amnesty International Sections as well as many individual Amnesty International members.

initially at the Trade Union Network meeting, one of the many workshops and in the main Conference Hall itself. We were successful in having NIPSA’s motion to conference proposing the setting up of Local Trade Union networks as a means of even greater participation and involvement by Trade Unions in Amnesty International’s Policy and Work. Many other motions were discussed on various aspects of Amnesty International’s Human Rights and Justice Work and the vast majority of these were passed.

This will be my final opportunity to be a NIPSA delegate to this conference. It was my 4th and I certainly have been privileged to have been given these opportunities. My wish is that NIPSA not only continues to play it’s part in Amnesty’s work in the future but that this work may be enhanced once the local Amnesty International Trade Union Network is established.

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June 2013

Teacher, Trade Union

One Man’s Legacy in and beyond Colomb Jorge Freytter, 51 years old, was affectionately known by his colleagues and students as “el profe,” or professor. He studied law and social sciences at the University of the Atlantic, after which he pursued a master’s degree in the social sciences while teaching at the Pestalozzi Institute. From a very young age, Freytter became a vocal defender of human rights, participating in the student movement in the late seventies, which mobilized with unions and other Colombian social movements. He demonstrated his commitment to human rights by joining the Unionised Association of University Teachers (ASPU). Freytter, a husband and father, was a committed social activist and union member, as well as being a rigorous academic who made major contributions to the humanities and social sciences at the University of the Atlantic. Freytter was one of many teachers awaiting payment of allowances that the University owed him as part of his pension. That brought him to participate in a peaceful occupation of a portion of the university headquarters, which lasted 22 days and achieved the signing of an act of commitment between the Dean of the faculty and university governance. Approximately 20 days before his assassination, Professor Freytter was arbitrarily detained by State agents. Though he was released, the event was a foreboding one that warned of what was to come. Freytter’s forced disappearance occurred at noon on August 28, 2001 when he was out to lunch in Baranquilla with his family. According to the

testimony of one of his sons, “Four men travelling in a Toyota Hayluz called my father by his name. They started accusing him, asking him to tell them why he was going to Bogota. They ordered his arrest under the threat of a 38 calibre weapon.” Freytter was killed in a cellar, where other victims had been tortured for information. A man had placed a bag over his head and suffocated him. Police agents threw his corpse on the street in the municipality of Cienaga in the department of Magdalena. His body was found naked, showing signs of torture. The crime of Freytter has had enormous implications for social and union movement of Colombia and particularly for the free thinkers of the Caribbean coast. It was an example of the continuation of an extermination strategy against activists that claimed the lives of many prominent voices. For the movement of victims, the case has also had significant implications because under the judgments obtained it has been made absolutely clear the existence of a criminal alliance between​​ State agents and paramilitary forces to end the lives of trade unionists. La Collective Corporation of Lawyers José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), which provides legal representation for Colombia’s most marginalized people and victims of political persecution, accepted the Freytter case in 2005 after Freytter’s wife had made a presentation at an educational forum. Thus far, the advances in the case have been numerous. In 2001, a prison sentence of 18.5 years was applied


June 2013

nist and Martyr

bia

to the man responsible for Freytter’s abduction, and in 2009 more state officials were indicted for their involvement in the case. In 2010, several police officials were condemned with 35 years of imprisonment for aggravated homicide, kidnapping, and conspiracy. The case was also presented before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

enable truth and justice processes, aiming to achieve reparations for the victims of these crimes.

With this and others cases involving trade unionists, CCAJAR believes it can increase visibility of Colombia’s problems, particularly that Colombia is the country where the most trade unionists are murdered in the world. CCAJAR hopes the broader international community will understand what impact of the State towards trade union workers, as well as the State’s flagrant violation of the right of free association and union rights in general.

President CCAJAR, “ Not only in regard to his capacity as a union leader, but also as a direct attack against the civilian population. This case should be of great interest to the international community, given that the crime was committed jointly by members of the paramilitary and State structures, developed as a plan of extermination against the voices of academia.”

NIPSA has been fundamental to CCAJAR’s work for two reasons. First, NIPSA’s financial support has allowed for the development of legal and educational activities undertaken by the Collective in favour of the rights of victims. Secondly, This case is of great importance for CCAJAR, as NIPSA has helped fund political lobbying and are the other 47 being carried out involving trade communications training which has resulted in an unionists, since it can establish lines of analysis for increased visibility of CCAJAR’s work through joint understanding union extermination as a systematic campaigns, promotion and dissemination of the policy orchestrated jointly by State forces and public collective’s actions in defense of human rights. officials determined to silence the social struggles “CCAJAR celebrates the justice on the horizon in and demands of the workers and their union the case of Professor Freytter, which constitutes a representatives. crime against humanity,” offers Alirio Uribe Muñoz,

CCAJAR hopes to raise awareness of the public and world that State officials are those who were and continue to be direct perpetrators of crimes against unionists. Through alliances, awareness campaigns, and publicity of complaints and criminal procedures, CCAJAR seeks to end crimes against union members. All the while, CCAJAR uses its legal expertise to

CCAJAR is a partner of Trocaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Colombia is a priority country for Trocaire, given the humanitarian and human rights situation. Trocaire focuses on providing support to victims of the conflict, displaced people and other vulnerable groups. To find out more about Trocaire’s work log on to www.trocaire.org

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June 2013

Freed from Captivity! by Trevor Smyth

On 22nd of April NIPSA were delighted to welcome freed Pakistani bonded labourer Shirmati Veero who now campaigns actively to release others from modern day slavery. She received the 2009 Frederick Douglas award, a prestigious international award given to individuals who contribute to ending slavery. Accompanying Veero on her visit, Dr Gulam Hyder the Director of Green Rural Development Organisation (GRDO), a partner of Trocaire in rural southern Sindh province in Pakistan, an area worst hit by the Pakistan floods of 2010 and 2011. GRDO works to free bonded labourers on cotton farms and in brick factories through awareness raising and campaigning. It also provides livelihood opportunities to bonded labourers who have been freed. Dr Hyder explained that in the Sindh province of Pakistan only 5% of people are land owners but over 80% depend on this 5% for any kind of employment. Only 2% of the workforce are unionised and over 75% of workers have no access at all to labour laws either local or worldwide. There is an enormous need for pressure to come from western governments and trade unions. Support for the establishment of recognised Trade Unions is especially required. GRDO, which began in 1997 working for workers rights, justice & peace, has been successful in releasing over 26,000 people from bonded labour in Pakistan and continues to demand that lands should be given to the landless.

bonded labourer. When she was younger she worked for a landlord for over two years as did numerous others. The landlord offered her a share in the land but this was nothing more than words he gave her nothing. She decided then she had to break free. The night she left Veero travelled over 20km on foot eventually ending up in a church camp. She then decided what the landlord had done to her was illegal and wrote to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan who eventually replied two months later. She took their reply to the police but they were very unsupportive and suggested she should return to her landlord even though she had explained to them how she had been beaten, ill-treated and lied to by her landlord and would be very fearful of returning. At this point she contacted GRDO. She decided to work with GRDO to campaign for other bonded workers and is now running as a local election candidate in Pakistan’s upcoming elections on a platform of human rights and justice for all workers in Pakistan, including specifically bonded workers, a form of modern day slavery! It is remarkable what they are doing for their fellow Pakistan brothers and sisters to bring them out of slavery and enabling them to work with freedom and justice. Veero especially was a woman that I shall not forget. The human rights abuse that she has suffered in the past and her dedication to ensuring that others will not have to suffer as she did. Makes her a truly remarkable woman!

Veero began by outlining her past history as a Members of NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee meet with former bonded labourer Shirmati Veero and Dr. Gulam Hyder, Director of GRDO


June 2013

Teaching the children amongst the rubble  

Ministry of Interior adjacent Zeitoun school sits amongst the rubble of Gaza

Supporting education provision in the Gaza strip by Stephen McCloskey, Director , Centre for Global Education Since 2007 the Gaza Strip has been subjected to a suffocating Israeli-imposed siege that has reduced to a trickle the amount of food, aid, medicines and other essential resources entering the territory. Oxfam has suggested that Gaza is ‘inching toward a total collapse of essential services’ and the United

Nations published a report last year which found that by 2020 the territory will be an ‘unliveable place’. Many would argue that life in Gaza is already an intolerable hardship where clean water and food are scarce, unemployment is over 30 percent and the economy is in a state of virtual collapse.

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June 2013

Nearly half of Gaza’s population is under 14 years and it is children who are most vulnerable to the physical isolation, deprivation and poverty caused by the blockade. 58 percent of school children suffer from anaemia caused by an inadequate diet with sanitation-related diseases, diarrhoea and typhoid fever, also on the rise because of Gaza’s polluted water supply. The blockade is also impacting on the education of young people due to the difficulty in getting construction materials into Gaza. The size of the student population and lack of new buildings means that 90 percent of schools double shift which results in pupils attending school for half-a-day to make way for more children using the same building in the morning or afternoon. Where this not enough to endure, children are also on the frontline of the conflict in Gaza with


June 2013

Girls from the partnership project at Deir El Balah perform Celebration Day traditional dance.

344 minors killed in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 and 34 losing their lives in an eight day bombardment last November. Many more young people suffer from conflict related trauma manifested through fear, sleeplessness, bedwetting, hyper-tension and loss of motivation. It was in this context that the Centre for Global Education (CGE), a development non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Belfast, delivered a project to supplement education provision in Gaza between December 2012 and March 2013 with the support of NIPSA’s Developing World Fund.

Gaza: Beit Lahia, Deir El Balah and Maghazi. The Centre’s project aimed to supplement education provision by working with three community centres to provide play and learning activities to children in the morning or afternoon when they were not at school. The facilitators in each centre also provided counselling to children suffering particularly acute symptoms of trauma and liaised with their parents throughout to advise on how the treatment could be extended to the household.

The project began by recruiting and training three facilitators in each centre to work on the project. The training focused on active learning methodologies Project Delivery and facilitation skills used to engage young people The project was delivered in partnership with the in education activities through play, drama, poetry, Canaan Institute of New Pedagogy, an NGO based arts and crafts. The facilitators delivered learning, in Gaza with the aim of enhancing education and play and psycho-social activities to children from psycho-social support services to 300 young people January to March 2013. aged 7-10 years in three marginalised locations in

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June 2013

How can you help? Raising Money

The challenge is there for members and branches to work up fund raising ventures.

Donating

Project partners The education activities focused on literacy and numeracy including sessions on learning English as well as strengthening Arabic. The facilitators worked on creating a fun but structured learning environment in areas bereft of play facilities for children and also took the young people on visits outside their localities. The project culminated with the organisation of a Celebration Day in each centre to showcase the work completed over the previous three months. The Celebration Days were well attended by the children’s families and members of the local community. The children performed traditional song and dance, their own compositions including poetry and rap, and dramas that reflected on family and community life in the midst of conflict. The Centre for Global Education’s Director, Stephen McCloskey, visited Gaza from 24-31 March to attend the Celebration Days and help evaluate the project outcomes. Evaluation of the project included meeting with the nine facilitators in the three Centres who really benefitted from the development education training received from the Canaan Institute, particularly the lifelong facilitation skills, values and attitudes that will inform their future work. They felt that this training strengthened their capacity as trainers that would endure beyond the project timeframe. As the facilitators work in the Centres where the project was delivered they are in a position to apply their skills to the young people on an ongoing basis. The children too really valued the learning, play and psycho-social activities provided by the three centres and the level of community support enjoyed by the project was very evident at the Celebration Days when parents turned out in large numbers to support their children. NIPSA members and the NIPSA Global Solidarity Committee can take great satisfaction from their support of grassroots community education services in a territory where children are on the frontline of Israel’s siege. Ref A4_0081

We encourage members, if they can afford it, to give regularly by either taking out a covenant or authorising a Give As You Earn (GAYE) payroll deduction. If you would like to do this, please complete the deduction slip below, and make a real difference to the lives of the poor people of the world.

NIPSA/Developing World Fund Payroll Donation Form

I want to give to the NIPSA Developing World Fund, direct from my salary the following amount per month: (please tick box) £5.00

cost in take home pay £3.90 

£10.00 cost in take home pay £7.80  £15.00 cost in take home pay £11.70  £20.00 cost in take home pay £15.60  Above figures are based on standard tax rates. Weekly paid staff should indicate amounts in panel below £  Minimum donation = £1.30  Cost in take home pay = £1.00 Name Address

Postcode Staff No. Employer Work Location Signed Date Please tick if you already use GAYE Please return this form to NIPSA Headquarters

NIPSA Global Solidarity Newsletter June 2013  
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