Silence can sometimes say more than a thousand words. When colleagues from our partner organisations tell us their stories,* our reaction is often silence; a dejected silence.
What can you say to the courageous human rights lawyer who has fled her home country in Central America, a country that is not officially at war, but where she is threatened because she voices her criticisms of the government?
Are there any words of comfort for the man from a Central African country now that the training centre for sustainable forest management that he set up with great passion and hard work has been taken over by rebels?
What do you say to the South American who left his family behind in his village and now has to request asylum in the Netherlands because he defended the rights of his community?
Are there words that can comfort the indigenous woman from South-East Asia whose husband and brothers were recently shot dead because they defended their indigenous land rights, opposing the interests of a mining company?
There are none.
That is why, today, we are silent. As a protest against the powers and forces that are restricting our universal freedoms worldwide and are silencing us and our partners. And in solidarity with activists, environmental protectors and human rights defenders who actively protect their and our rights and who – increasingly often – pay for it with their lives.
In the coming days, we ask attention for these brave people. Because they refuse to give up. No matter how difficult the circumstances are, they keep on fighting for freedom of expression, human rights, women's rights, land rights, preservation of biodiversity and a sustainable future for their children.
This campaign is part of SPEAK!, an international campaign by CIVICUS. For more information, see www.togetherwespeak.org
*The examples given here are anonymous so as not to endanger the persons involved.
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News / 21 September 2017
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News / 28 September 2018
We congratulate Joan Carling, member of the permanent commission on indigenous peoples of the UN, for having received the Lifetime Achievement Award as 'Champion of the Earth' by the UN Environment! This is the UN's highest environmental honor, given to six of the world's most outstanding environmental change makers once a year.
News / 20 October 2016
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News / 7 October 2018
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Publication / 29 May 2019
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Publication / 1 September 2017
Publication / 30 May 2017
Blog / 23 March 2017
Whenever I see pictures of the people in the Dutch province of Groningen whose houses are collapsing because of gas extraction and who, even if they wanted to move somewhere else, would never be able to sell them, I can't help but think of all the people worldwide who have been experiencing the same problems, sometimes for decades. Every time I see the anger and powerlessness of the people of Groningen, the comparison to the many people we have been working with for many years in many parts of the world comes to my mind.
Blog / 25 November 2016
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Blog / 20 September 2016
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News / 19 September 2016
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Blog / 13 September 2016
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News / 12 September 2016
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External link / 29 September 2008
The JWH Initiative aims to stimulate leadership of young people in environmental Civil Society Organizations in order to secure dedicated, knowledgeable and skillful leaders for the environmental movement in the developing world.