November 28, 2011
Winding Down High Road

Dear High Road Traveler-

I write the following with a mixture of sadness because of the need to wind down the operations of High Road for Human Rights and tremendous gratitude for the demonstration of your commitment to the protection of human rights through your support of High Road. 

When I announced in 2006 that I would not run for re-election as Mayor of Salt Lake City, I discussed what I intended to do in the future:

I have made this decision because I want to spend my remaining days working on grass-roots advocacy and organizing in the areas of human rights and global warming. As our nation - and indeed our world - have proclaimed “Never Again” ever since the Holocaust, we have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear, again and again, toward many millions of people - many millions of our brothers and sisters around the world - as they have been murdered, raped, tortured, and run off from their homes. We have witnessed much of the same with respect to the most urgent problem facing our world - global warming - with elected officials dithering while they rely on fiction rather than science to justify their unconscionable inaction.
So, I plan to “make more noise” - and hope to help others give vent to their humanity and their outrage by “making more noise.” Through grass roots advocacy and organizing, I believe and hope we can make this a better, safer, healthier, more sustainable, and far kinder world.With the inspiring help of many - including generous founders, those who have provided us with free office space (David Ibarra, Henry Brito, and Jonathan Ruga), fantastic staff members, the Advisory Committee, our intrepid Board members, and hundreds of volunteers - we built High Road for Human Rights, an organization with a well-deserved reputation for effectively raising awareness and motivating people to take actions leading to a more compassionate world.

We reached people throughout the country and beyond with our message; garnered the support of several thousands of people for our major climate protection, anti-death penalty, and ban-on-torture campaigns; and empowered several hundred young people to take grassroots actions to protect human rights.

It has been an amazing ride on the High Road. For a tour of much that High Road has done over the years - including my testimony at an unprecedented U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on abuses of Executive Branch power; numerous presentations about the power of grassroots organizing to stop genocides and slavery; rallies to push for accountability for torture; presentations throughout the nation about the solutions to climate change; and educating thousands of people about the threats to our republic from the two-tiered system of justice now prevailing - please visit our website to see High Roads Traveled and view the informative videos.

So why wind down High Road now? One major reason: A lack of adequate funding. Although generous funders (Norm and Barbara Tanner and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund) helped get us off the ground initially with seed funding, and although others have stepped up with funding to keep us operating, it simply hasn’t been enough. Far too often during the past three years, we didn’t know if we would make it through to the next month - even when I was uncompensated much of the time.

I will work to start a major new national political party, which will advocate for, among other things, the fulfillment of High Road’s mission. Beyond that, I’m not sure what the future holds for me. But whatever I end up doing, I hope to continue the quest in some way - and hope that we will all stay in touch and that each of us will work in our own ways to bring greater peace and compassion to our world. 

I’m extremely grateful for the hard work of past and current High Road staff members, the commitment of our Board members, and the enthusiasm and dedicated efforts of our interns and other volunteers. I have been inspired every day by the terrific work done by so many people, driven by a common goal of ending preventable suffering from human rights abuses sustained by our brothers and sisters around the world.

Thank you for all you’ve done - and please stay in touch. 



                                                              With gratitude,


                                                              Ross C. Anderson

November 7, 2011
It Took One Woman to Change a Country

Whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr. or Leymah Gbowee, change can start with one person’s dream. In 2002, Leymah had a dream that God told her to gather women and pray. With the help of allies, who believed in her dream, Leymah and others began passing out flyers around religious places, the markets, or wherever they could. These flyers got the message to women that they were tired of not speaking up as their families got killed and raped, so things needed to change. By the time summer had rolled around, Gbowee was known as the leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace Movement.

 This movement started with the dream of one woman, but through religious and ethnic lines, she was able to pass it to thousands of Christian and Muslim women. With the help of the women’s movement in Liberia, the 14 year old war was stopped after one year of this movement. This also led to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being elected as President of Liberia, making her the first women to ever be leader in Africa.

If this lady from a country in war could do it then so could any one of us Americas. Sometimes we may feel like the matter is too big for one person to change, but it isn’t. It only takes one person’s idea to get thousands, even millions, of people on board if the cause involves protecting our human rights.  If you have something you stand for and want to help make a difference to the human rights of people everywhere then start/join a High Road Team today!

Sources: http://www.gruberprizes.org/GruberPrizes/WomensRights_LaureateBio.php?id=86&awardid=53 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leymah_Gbowee#Leading_mass_women.27s_movement

Learn More About High Road Teams: http://www.highroadforhumanrights.info/node/15

 

Zoey Bridges

November 2, 2011
Viktor Bout Receives Life in Prison

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has been sentenced to life in federal prison for conspiring to kill Americans. Mr. Bout’s life was made popular by Nicolas Cage’s portrayal of his life in the 2005 film Lord of War. His capture stems from a sting operation of US officials clandestinely acting as Colombian rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. FARC is recognized as a terrorist group by both the US and its EU partners.

According to the United Nations people annually killed by illegal small arms “greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” This may sound surprising. Yet, when incidences are small and decentralized we can tend to forget their significance when added together. Many of us face an analogous mathematical paradox in our fear of relatively safe use of airlines verse our nonexistence fear of dangerous car riding. The U.N. notes the devastation by small arms could rightly be labeled as “weapons of mass destruction.” Millions of Cold War AK-47’s flood the market of war torn regions. In some African regions of conflict, such as Somalia, a Cold War automatic AK-47 can be purchased for less than 20 dollars.

Mr. Bout’s willingness to sell thousands of AK-47’s and missiles to the FARC is a reminder of the scourge of humanity that wishes to profit from terrorism. The UN notes the issue of illegal sale of small arms is a human rights issue, one which lacks measures of tracking. Mr. Bout’s sentence to federal prison certainly makes a victory to human rights.

By Ryan Carrier

October 31, 2011
Modern-Day Slavery in Peru

Believe it or not, the women of Peru are legally allowed to prostitute themselves when they are the age of 18. If these types of laws are in affect then what kind of message is being shown to the younger girls raised in this country? Recently there were over 200 women, who were rescued from a mining camp where they were forced to prostitute. Out of the 200 women, there were at least 10 girls who were under the age of 18. Now according to the U.S. State Department, a person caught on child prostitution charges can be given five to twelve years in prison.

These men will probably be put away for forcing these girls into prostitution, but what’s going to happen to the women and girls? Who’s going to help them get back on their feet? How do we know they won’t be forced right back into slavery again?

As the strong activists that we are, we should help fight to get laws passed so these young girls and thousands of women like them won’t get put into modern-day slavery camps. We may not be in Peru, but we can still help fight by getting our local Senators and Representatives to sign the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Action is not going to occur unless we, citizens of a free country, stand up for the people, who can’t express a voice in the matter.

-Zoey Bridges, HRHR Intern

Source: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/05/underage-prostitutes-rescued-in-peru/

Learn more and get involved: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/

Learn more about the TVPRA: http://www.ijm.org/justice-campaigns/tvpra

October 28, 2011
Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project

Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project

The Keystone Gulf Coast Expansions Project, commonly referred to Keystone XL, has been brought up in the national conversation once again. TransCanada Corporation, the company that would construct and operate the pipeline is still waiting on a final decision regarding permit approval, which is expected to come by the end of the year.   At an appearance in Denver on October 26, 2011, President Obama told an opponent that, “We’re looking at it right now, all right? No decision’s been made and I know your deep concern about it, so we will address it.” Only one day prior to that comment, on October 25, 2011, three environmental groups expanded their lawsuit regarding the development of the pipeline.  In their lawsuit they mentioned the U.S. State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as several other federal agencies and officials as defendants.  The final say in this matter is in the hands of the State Department due to the international border involved; however opponents argue that President Obama has the power to effectively make the final decision.  In August, the State Department ruled that the pipeline posed a little risk to the environment, this infuriated opponents who cited the dozen or so times the existing Keystone line has already leaked.  The Keystone XL pipeline would cross 70 rivers and streams as well as the Ogallala Aquifer which provides close to one-third of the groundwater used in America’s agriculture industry.  Environmentalists argue that the pipeline threatens underground water supplies, and poses a significant threat to air quality and animal safety. Protesters plan to continue their fight again this pipeline on November 6th, exactly one year before the next presidential election, outside of the White House in an effort to convince the president to take a stand against the pipeline.

Source: http://www.procon.org/headline.php?headlineID=005036

Learn more and get involved: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/

Sign a Petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-tar-sands-oil-keystone-xl-pipeline

High Road’s Climate Declaration: http://highroadforhumanrights.info/node/31

October 19, 2011
Writing For Change

If you have feelings about a human rights issue and are passionate about it, then pick up a pen and write to your elected-officials. Let your voice be heard on matters effecting the rights of all humans. Here is a letter written by one of our very own to Senator Orrin Hatch:

Orrin Hatch

8402 Federal Building

125 South State Street

Salt Lake City, UT 84138

 

Dear Senator Orrin Hatch,

 

            I would like to thank you for your service to the people of Utah. I love living here and want to help make the best place that it can possible be. I am writing to express my support for the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S. 1301/ HR 2830).

            As you may already know, there are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. With this being said, the TVPRA would help keep and improve the life-saving U.S. programs that fight the slavery going on within our own borders and around the rest of the world. I realize this problem is not only in Utah, but I would like to hear your stand point on the issue and understand why our elected policy-maker’s name is currently not on the list of officials who have demonstrate a commitment to slavery abolition.

            The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act will help our government’s greatest assets in fighting the modern-day slavery going on internationally. The State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) has many people monitoring slavery, and they help press the governments, from all around the world, on confronting this issue. A number of provisions are being made by the Senate bill, which will strengthen global and domestic anti-trafficking programs and services. One of the ways is by instructing the State Department regional bureaus to designate anti-trafficking specialists in our Embassies abroad. If this happens, then they can collect information on the trafficking and be able to communicate the United States concerns to foreign countries. The only way this provision and many others like it is if President Obama can pass and sign the bill on time, which is only going to happen if we get the maximum amount of political support for this bill, this is where you come in.

            Many people who agree with this act do not have the authority to voice their opinion, so it is up to you and other Utah elected officials to let our voices be heard. I know that if my future generations ever ended up in any type of modern-day slavery then I would hope that this act would already been in effect. This was I know that they could have a chance to get out of the situation before it is too late.

            Thank you for giving me the time to express my opinions on the matter, and I hope to hear back from you about the issue on hand.

 

Sincerely,

Zoey Bridges

October 11, 2011
Keystone XL Pipeline Arrests Not Bringing About Attention or Change, yet.

During the two weeks between August 20th through September 3rd, various environmentalists, laborers, religious groups, along with several notable people such as Bill Kibben, and actress Daryl Hannah gathered in front of the White House to protest the plans to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The construction of this pipeline would transport crude oil or tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, which would then be exported to other countries. The main concern with building this pipeline is the chance of spillage and the generation of millions of metric tons of CO2 emissions.

An estimated 1,253 people were arrested after the two week long protest. I had the opportunity of interviewing Kathy Albury, a dedicated environmental activist, who bravely wore handcuffs after participating in a week filled of civil disobedience.

I first asked Kathy if her arrest had made her satisfied. She said she was very frustrated and unsatisfied because it seemed as if no one was listening to such an important issue that will affect our future generations. She described her arrest to be “a slap on the hand” as compared to others who had been arrested for blocking an intersection and were fined and sentenced community service.

If we do not stop this now, we have no future, it’s game over.” She described the keystone pipeline as only a small portion of the bigger issue of our nation‘s inability to reduce CO2 emissions. “We need to conserve and be more efficient.”

She suggested some other viable long-term sources of energy such as geothermal, hydroelectric, wind energy, and urban solar farms.

Despite her unsatisfied attempt at getting the public’s attention, she will continue to give statements, write to government officials, and educate the public about this “dirty oil.” Kathy’s dedication to the environment and civil disobedience is inspiring; it is a reflection of how action is the first step to bring about change.

-Merissa Nakamura

High Road for Human Rights Volunteer

October 5, 2011

Join a High Road for Human Rights team today!

October 5, 2011
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