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Monday, November 17, 2014

Buying Ethical Chocolate that is Slavery Free

Chocolate and Child Slavery: Say No to Human Trafficking this Holiday Season


The prevalence of human trafficking, child slavery, and abusive labor practices in the cacao industry is surprisingly under-reported. With the average U.S. citizen eatingover 11 pounds of chocolate (that's about 120 chocolate bars), per year, it is incredible to consider how few of us are aware of the atrocities involved in 70 percent or more of the world's cacao production.
As a devoted chocolate lover, I was shocked and horrified to discover that many of my favorite seasonal treats -- treats that bring so much joy to children here in the U.S. -- are produced using abusive child labor. Major, trusted chocolate brands are often guilty of including cacao harvested by children and slaves in their supply chains.
Now, I choose to boycott any chocolate supplier who refuses to certify their products as free of coercive labor practices, child labor, and human trafficking.
According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents or outright stolen and then shipped to Ivory Coast, where they are enslaved on cocoa farms. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work in Ivory Coast and send some of their earnings home. The terrible reality is that these children, 11-to-16-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, receive no education, are under fed, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.


This image is published with permission courtesy of photographer Henrik Ipsen and the film The Dark Side of Chocolate.
Over a decade ago, two Congressmen, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-New York, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, attempted to remedy this issue. They introduced legislation mandating a labeling system for chocolate. After the deep pockets of the chocolate corporations protested, a compromise was reached that required chocolate companies to voluntarily certify they had stopped the practice of child labor. Originally, the certification process would include labeling chocolate products "Child Labor Free," but the labeling component was removed as part of the compromise. Many believe the legislation lost its teeth at that point.
Instead of the "Child Labor Free" label, the protocol now calls for public reporting by African governments, establishment of an audit system, and poverty remediation by 2005. The deadline had to be extended to 2008 (read Fortune magazine's report on the state of the protocol in 2008) and again to 2010. Today, human rights organizations report that some of the provisions have still not been met, and it is the biggest corporations who refuse to comply.
In 2012 there were some rumblings that this might be changing, but the change is likely to remain grindingly slow. Child slavery keeps costs down, which allows major corporations to keep their chocolate cheap. Not only does it cost more to pay laborers a fair wage, but the cost of monitoring the extensive supply chains of global corporations would be significant.
The next time you reach for a candy bar, buy candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters, or stock up for holiday baking, consider the price thousands of children are paying to bring you your chocolaty cheer.
But don't despair yet, chocolate lovers, ethically sourced chocolate is gaining prevalence and becoming easier to find (not to mention afford) every day. The key is in consumer awareness. Consumer dollars send a very clear message to manufacturers about what the public will and will not tolerate.
The most effective way to find ethically sourced chocolate is to look for a short supply chain. "Bean to bar" producers who own the entire production chain all the way back to the beans and "Direct Trade" producers whose chocolate comes from single, identifiable origins are ideal. Many companies today who proudly list extensive information on the cacao farms they work with on their labels. Equal Exchange and Askinosie Chocolate are two examples of such companies.
There are also several certifications on chocolate labels to indicate a slavery-free supply chain. These include Fair Trade, Equal Exchange, Fairtrade, and Rainforest Alliance (which has an added environmental component -- perfect since the chocolate industry is also guilty of devastating rainforests for plantations and production). Keep in mind that certification has its own bureaucratic pros and cons. Certification must be paid for by the company seeking it which can be a hurdle for small producers. A company can be ethical without certification, and a company with certification may still have other questionable practices.
The blog post, "Is There Child Slavery in Your Chocolate?", includes a long list of chocolate companies who are proudly Child Labor Free.
Ethically sourced brands can be more expensive than chocolate harvested by slaves, but the extra few cents is worth it every single time. Ethically sourced chocolate is so easy to find these days, I can't remember the last time I had a problem finding it. Still, if I can't find slave-free chocolate, I don't buy chocolate. For holidays we often order in bulk, which can be a big money saver.
Other steps you can take to help with this cause:
*Fill out Hershey's corporate responsibility online survey. Urge them to establish an ethical and slavery-free supply chain. Tell them you won't have your money contributing to human trafficking.
*For as little as $6, get a DVD copy of the film The Dark Side of Chocolate, along with information about Fair Trade, from the dedicated people at Green America. Watch it, show it to your friends, and spread the word.
* EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS. Tweet about this article, pin it, and post it to your Facebook page. Spread the word until this dirty little secret is completely out in the open.
Check out these sources for more information:

I take it back about South Korea

North Korea war crimes as 'bad as Nazis' - witnesses claim labour camps saw starvation and ''unspeakable'' torture

President Kim Jong-Un could face charges for abuses including drowned babies, victims roasted over open fires, forced abortions and the extermination of families

Daily Mirror video grabs
Forced labour: Inmates at one of many prison camps

North Korea stands accused of crimes against its own people as barbaric as the atrocities carried out by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Its regime is attacked for “unspeakable crimes” against humanity – including deliberate starvation, death camps, torture, state-sponsored abductions, public executions and lifelong indoctrination – in a damning 372-page report released today.
It was compiled by a panel of experts mandated by the United Nations Humans Rights Council and investigators interviewed defectors in South Korea, Japan, Britain and the US about what they had seen and suffered in a nation where 80,000 to 120,000 are held in political prison camps.
President Kim Jong-Un could now face charges at the International Criminal Court for abuses including babies being drowned, torture victims roasted over open fires, forced abortions and the extermination of families.
Michael Kirby, the retired Australian judge who chaired the panel, today described the allegations as similar to those levelled at the Nazis.
“It brings back memories of the end of Second World War, and the horror and the shame and the shock,” he said.

Daily Mirror video grabsInside North Korea
Not welcome: Soldier points rifle at cameraman

The report is the most detailed probe undertaken into the warped Kim regime which has had an iron grip over North Korea for six decades.
During the late 1990s, millions starved, or were forced to eat tree bark or grass to survive. The dossier even claims North Koreans resorted to cannibalism and the sale of “human meat” in a bid to survive.
It says: “Testimonies of the sale of human meat almost disappeared after 2000. However, in 2006 there was a re-emergence in testimonies of cannibalism attributed to the economic breakdown and food shortages.”
One witness, known only as Mrs C, testified: “My father, because of malnourishment, passed away early in the morning of February 16, 1996. In April 1997 my older sister and younger sister died of starvation. In 1998, my younger brother died.”
Mums abandoned or killed their babies at birth because they could not feed them. Around 1997, then-leader Kim Jong-il ordered military families to adopt abandoned kids. Those that did were considered heroes.
The military in the Communist regime are accused of stealing food but ordinary people were dealt the harshest of punishments if they stole. One woman testified that she witnessed five public executions during the famine – all shot in the head.

Daily Mirror video grabsInside North Korea
Agony march: Prisoners carry their heavy loads

The regime’s iron grip on power means thousands are sent to prison camps. Three generations of a family were often jailed for political offences if one member was deemed guilty – often with no reason given.
A witness called Kim Hye-sook said she spent 28 years from the age of 13 in such a camp, only to find on release that the family was punished because her grandfather fled to the Republic of Korea during the Korean War.
Former detainee Shin Dong-hyuk was also 13 when he reported a conversation he overheard between his mother and brother in which they talked about escaping from the camp. He had to watch as they were executed.
Within months he was tortured – hung over a fire until his back was burned.

Brute: Kim Jong-un is now leader

Sexual violence is common in the camps. Witness Ahn Myong-chol said the commander of a state security department unit raped a woman, who became pregnant and gave birth to a baby.
The mother and her child were taken to the detention and punishment block, where the tot was thrown in the feeding bowl for the dogs.
Another witness saw guards take the baby of a mother at the Onsong County detention facility moments after it was born and drown it in a bucket.
Officials thought the mother had slept with a Chinese man and said of the baby: “It doesn’t deserve to live.”
In another detention centre a witness saw a mum forced to suffocate her child moments after giving birth.

Too gruesome for words: Defector's drawings reveal hideous torture techniques

In tragic drawings by defector Kim Kwang-il investigators learned of the regime’s use of a wide range of brutal torture techniques.
And when a prisoner dies, other inmates are often forced to burn the remains.
The report accuses the secretive country of having many torture chambers and gulags and of human rights abuse “on a scale that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”.
Trying to flee the country is viewed as a terrible crime. In 1996, a witness saw the authorities use a car to drag a “traitor” by a hook in his nose.
North Korea claims the report is based on material faked by hostile forces with US, EU and Japanese support.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Burma is now being soaked with human blood and deep shame.

A Countryside of Concentration Camps

Burma could be the site of the world's next major genocide.

By Graeme Wood
Additional Info by Karen Cole
Click on the link in the title for each linked full article or reference website page.

Read the article for further info on how Muslims in Myanmar are being persecuted. Genocide is all over the world, can be in small places such as hotels and motels and sites called "Little Schools," which are not daycares but are small, hidden prisons where captives are held and tortured or detained often until they either die, escape, are reported about and/or are finally released. Often people mistakenly think these people are all Jews or political prisoners; in fact, all kinds of people across the world, men, women, children, teenagers and other animals are held in these disgraceful conditions, longing for their freedom. Their only comfort is each other whenever they can communicate, a book or some reading material, the hope of freedom or some bravado for their own cause, or finding a way to communicate somehow with the outside world. Many of them are currently dying without any assistance, but efforts are being made to find and free these people.

Germany suffered like you wouldn't believe.

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

A group of Jewish women at the entrance to the Brody ghetto in Eastern Galicia, 1942. The sign is written in German, Ukrainian and Polish.

  • SAVE

THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.
What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.
The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, duringHitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.
The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.
“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”
The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.
The maps the researchers have created to identify the camps and ghettos turn wide sections of wartime Europe into black clusters of death, torture and slavery — centered in Germany and Poland, but reaching in all directions.
The lead editors on the project, Geoffrey Megargee and Martin Dean, estimate that 15 million to 20 million people died or were imprisoned in the sites that they have identified as part of a multivolume encyclopedia. (The Holocaust museum has published the first two, with five more planned by 2025.)
The existence of many individual camps and ghettos was previously known only on a fragmented, region-by-region basis. But the researchers, using data from some 400 contributors, have been documenting the entire scale for the first time, studying where they were located, how they were run, and what their purpose was.
The brutal experience of Henry Greenbaum, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives outside Washington, typifies the wide range of Nazi sites.
When Mr. Greenbaum, a volunteer at the Holocaust museum, tells visitors today about his wartime odyssey, listeners inevitably focus on his confinement of months at Auschwitz, the most notorious of all the camps.
But the images of the other camps where the Nazis imprisoned him are ingrained in his memory as deeply as the concentration camp number — A188991 — tattooed on his left forearm.
In an interview, he ticked off the locations in rapid fire, the details still vivid.
First came the Starachowice ghetto in his hometown in Poland, where the Germans herded his family and other local Jews in 1940, when he was just 12.
Next came a slave labor camp with six-foot-high fences outside the town, where he and a sister were moved while the rest of the family was sent to die at Treblinka. After his regular work shift at a factory, the Germans would force him and other prisoners to dig trenches that were used for dumping the bodies of victims. He was sent to Auschwitz, then removed to work at a chemical manufacturing plant in Poland known as Buna Monowitz, where he and some 50 other prisoners who had been held at the main camp at Auschwitz were taken to manufacture rubber and synthetic oil. And last was another slave labor camp at Flossenbürg, near the Czech border, where food was so scarce that the weight on his 5-foot-8-inch frame fell away to less than 100 pounds.
By the age of 17, Mr. Greenbaum had been enslaved in five camps in five years, and was on his way to a sixth, when American soldiers freed him in 1945. “Nobody even knows about these places,” Mr. Greenbaum said. “Everything should be documented. That’s very important. We try to tell the youngsters so that they know, and they’ll remember.”
The research could have legal implications as well by helping a small number of survivors document their continuing claims over unpaid insurance policies, looted property, seized land and other financial matters.
“HOW many claims have been rejected because the victims were in a camp that we didn’t even know about?” asked Sam Dubbin, a Florida lawyer who represents a group of survivors who are seeking to bring claims against European insurance companies.
Dr. Megargee, the lead researcher, said the project was changing the understanding among Holocaust scholars of how the camps and ghettos evolved.
As early as 1933, at the start of Hitler’s reign, the Third Reich established about 110 camps specifically designed to imprison some 10,000 political opponents and others, the researchers found. As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbors, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs, the researchers have found.
The biggest site identified is the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, which held about 500,000 people at its height. But as few as a dozen prisoners worked at one of the smallest camps, the München-Schwabing site in Germany. Small groups of prisoners were sent there from the Dachau concentration camp under armed guard. They were reportedly whipped and ordered to do manual labor at the home of a fervent Nazi patron known as “Sister Pia,” cleaning her house, tending her garden and even building children’s toys for her.
When the research began in 2000, Dr. Megargee said he expected to find perhaps 7,000 Nazi camps and ghettos, based on postwar estimates. But the numbers kept climbing — first to 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now 42,500.
The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.
In Berlin alone, researchers have documented some 3,000 camps and so-called Jew houses, while Hamburg held 1,300 sites.
Dr. Dean, a co-researcher, said the findings left no doubt in his mind that many German citizens, despite the frequent claims of ignorance after the war, must have known about the widespread existence of the Nazi camps at the time.
“You literally could not go anywhere in Germany without running into forced labor camps, P.O.W. camps, concentration camps,” he said. “They were everywhere.”
Eric Lichtblau is a reporter for The New York Times in Washington and a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Enforced mass sterilization - probably not a good idea!

Woman dies at second India sterilisation camp

Police arrest doctor who performed more than 80 operations as news emerges that surgeries went on despite mounting toll

A woman is mourned as her body lies in the back of a van after botched sterilisation surgery in Chhattisgarh, India.

 A woman is mourned as her body lies in the back of a van after botched sterilisation surgery in Chhattisgarh, India. Photograph: Reuters

A woman died after a second sterilisation camp was held in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh even as the death toll mounted from a clinic held two days before, it has been revealed.
The number of fatalities reached 14 on Thursday and was expected to rise, while the doctor who performed many of the operations, RK Gupta, was arrested, according to authorities.
The news of the second camp – held after several deaths from the first, and while dozens of very seriously ill women were being treated – will increase pressure on authorities in the poverty-stricken Indian state.
The women who died spent their last hours in tremendous pain, relatives have said.
About 80 women attended the first free government-run camp on Saturday where they each had a laparoscopic tubectomy, usually a straightforward surgical procedure. About 60 fell ill shortly afterwards, officials said.
Family members have claimed the women were pressured to accept 1,400 rupees (£14), the equivalent of two weeks’ work for a manual labourer, to have the surgery.
“The [health workers] said nothing would happen, it was a minor operation. They herded them like cattle,” Mahesh Suryavanshi, the brother-in-law of one casualty, told the Indian Express newspaper.
Though at least 10 women were already dead and many more in a critical condition in local hospitals, no attempt appears to have been made to stop other camps being held in the state.
Around 30 tubectomies were performed in around an hour at the second camp held on Monday by a different doctor, local news reports said. The way the procedures were carried out was a clear breach of protocols – but, as has become increasingly clear, an apparently routine one. Patients reported nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and high temperatures. The woman who subsequently died, and many of the others, were from one of India’s “protected tribes” – ancient communities that are among the most marginalised in the country.
Chhattisgarh police inspector general Pawan Deo told the Agence France-Presse news agency that Gupta had been arrested and police were planning to seize equipment used during the surgeries.
In all four doctors and officials have been suspended and police have registered a criminal complaint of negligence.
Fatalities included a woman who had given birth only days before. Others were reported to have been hospitalised with anaemia, severe asthma and diabetes. None appeared to have been properly examined before the operations at either camp, nor was there any follow-up care.
Ramavtar Suryavanshi, husband of one victim, described how his wife was told she would be home by sunset and back to work in the fields within two days with the equivalent of about 10 days’ wages as a manual labourer in her pocket.
Instead the 35-year-old mother-of-five was incapacitated within hours of having the surgery and died “in tremendous pain” within 20 minutes of being admitted to hospital the next morning.
At the first camp operations were carried out by Gupta and his assistant over the course of about three hours.
One official said the daily target for one team was 40 sterilisations “but the number of operations held on Saturday was double that figure”.
Gupta had been honoured by the state government in January for performing more than 50,000 laparoscopic tubectomies. “He’s a very senior and respected surgeon,” said Dr SK Mandal, the chief medical officer in Chhattisgarh.
The sterilisation drive in Chhattisgarh is part of a long-running effort to control population growth across India.
Mandal said he believed Gupta had been under pressure to meet government-set targets of 220,000 sterilisations in a year including 15,000 in Bilaspur, the district where the botched surgeries took place.
“The people from the health department set up some targets and we have to achieve them by 31st March,” Mandal said.
A spokeswoman for the federal health ministry said she was not aware of sterilisation targets for states. India’s government has said it stopped setting targets for sterilising women in the 1990s.
But doctors and human rights workers have alleged for years that targets exist, leading to inevitable coercion in villages where most people have very limited access to education and healthcare.
“The government of India denies that there are targets but they’re clearly set and when it goes down to the district or village level that’s a real problem. Extreme pressure is the crux of the problem,” said Sona Sharma, joint director for advocacy at the New Delhi-based Population Foundation of India.