… to bring good news to the poor …Luke: 4,18
Franciscans International for Human Rights
Franciscans work for human rights through Franciscans International (FI), an NGO composed of Franciscan friars, Franciscan sisters and brothers, and Secular Franciscans and is based at the UN. FI is a service to the Franciscan Family. Its aim is to raise Franciscans’ concerns regarding the situation of the most vulnerable, in order to advocate at the UN for positive change. Click on any of the following areas of work to find out more about our human rights work: Human Trafficking; Migration; Poverty; Women.
Mexican Franciscans work for Justice & Peace
The friars of the Province of San Felipe de Jesus of Mexico through its JPIC Commission has made a definitive option for human rights and the defence of the environment especially in the region of Chiapas-Tabasco because of its possession of great natural riches. The Mexican government intends to allow private companies to exploit its mining potential, and there are fears that human rights may be violated and that the environment will suffer. The friars are committed to the development of a greater consciousness for the need to respect human rights and ecological education by promoting public demonstrations and through village clean-up campaigns, the reforestation of eroded areas, and fostering the love and care for nature & other creatures, our common “home” & Mother Earth.
In conjunction with the communities, the friars hold an annual rally to promote human rights and the environment, and the youth of these communities are enthusiastic participants.
In April, 2013, the friars organised a protest against the dumping of waste in the Selva Negra, an area of jungle and coniferous forests by the Municipal Council of Rayon, Chiapas. Regrettably this is continuing.
The friars have attracted the interest of various communities for the care of their forests and water which are already in private hands and which the government intends to lease for exploitation. There is a concern particularly for access to water since communities may need to resort to rationing.
Together with communities who have become aware of the destruction of mining operations, the friars’ Commission for Justice and Peace achieved the suspension of “exploration” work by mining companies in an area of some 50,000 ha.
Friars in solidarity with communities in Hondurus – Mining
This year in Hondurus, various conflicts have taken place between local communities and mining companies. One took place in the Florida sector in Atlantida, hondurus. The community, rich in flora and fauna, prohibits all mineral extraction if it is to remain a suitable palce for culture and living.
Business has purchased a section of this area but some farmers refuse to sell their lands, and the situation is becoming more conflictual and dangerous as gunmen intimidate the community creating insecurity and hostility. Some people – villagers and human rights activits – have left the area due to threats against their lives. The conflict will continue as long as the companies maintain a posture of intimidation and aggression against the population who refuse to sell their lands and family heritage. The friars stand in solidarity with their pastoral companions, the Claretian Brothers who stated,
“We repudiate the climate of anxiety which prevails in these communities created by the armed guards who frighten and harass those who oppose this nefarious project. Also, we renounce the participation of the National Police in the repression and persecution of the leaders of the farming communities who have organized against this mining project.
We urge civil authorities to carry out their duty and inform and consult citizens about projects that impact them and whose consequences could cause irreparable damage to the environment.
We ask for a thorough judicial investigation by the public prosecutor’s office and the defender of human rights so that those responsible for the recent acts of violence are punished in an exemplary manner under the law.
We express our concern and disapproval of all that harms the peace and harmony of the population, the integrity of life and mother nature herself; thus:
We urge governmental and municipal authorities to protect the life and physical integrity of Father Cesar Espinoza, missionary priest of the Congregation of the Claretians, and urge the leaders of their respective communities. We also remind the companies involved of their obligation to respect the rights of people and the natural resources in the area.
We are concerned about the acts of violence, especially of armed groups, which terrorize the communities. We also fear that these situations might turn into social conflicts, creating division in the same communities.
Fairtrade as issue of Social Justice
Whenever possible, support Fairtrade produce (eg Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas etc) because it carries a guarantee that producers receive a fairer deal for their produce and labour. By choosing Fairtrade, we support trade justice so that people are rewarded for their labour. We seek to alleviate suffering and empower the poor so that they can have meaningful work and live decent lives. Let’s challenge trading structures that exclude people from fully participating in the decision-making structures that effect their lives or prevent them from receiving just wages.