Category: Executive Committee

ilic-cyanide-erzincan-turkiye-accident
Executive Committee

Negligence at the mine in Turkiye: 9 killed and incalculable environmental damage

 

On the afternoon of February 13, 2024, a devastating landslide occurred in the gold mining area of Ilic district, Erzincan.. Turkiye. Approximately 10 million cubic meters of soil, treated with cyanide and sulfuric acid for gold extraction, catastrophically slid towards the Euphrates River [1]. This river is not just a crucial waterway for the Middle East, supporting agriculture, and livestock, and providing drinking water to Syria and Iraq, but also flows into the Persian Gulf [2].

The landslide’s direction toward the Euphrates River raised immediate alarms about environmental and public health impacts. Mehmet Torun, the former president of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, conveyed his concerns to journalists, expressing doubts about the absence of any leakage into the river and hinting at the potential for a “terrible environmental disaster.” Despite these fears, Mehmet Ozhaseki, the Minister of Environment, Urbanization, and Climate, claimed that daily water samples showed no evidence of toxic waste contamination [1].

Cyanide has been used in the mining industry for over a century. Despite, it has been used for a long time cyanide is toxic for not only humans but also many other organisms. Especially, fish and aquatic invertebrates are particularly sensitive to cyanide exposure. A small leakage in the water or the soil can cause catastrophic effects on the ecosystem. The immediate result of a possible leakage in the Euphrates River can be measured by the accident in Romania, in 2000. Unleashed 100,000 cubic meters of toxic waste into rivers, severely impacting Hungary and Serbia. This disaster, caused by extreme weather, led to a widespread loss of drinking water for 2.5 million people and the death of vast numbers of fish.

Long-term consequences for the leakage can only be estimated at this moment. Still, persistent environmental degradation, reduced biodiversity, and compromised water and soil quality, affecting ecosystems and human health for years are some general estimations [3].

Meanwhile, the human toll of the disaster became painfully apparent. Nine mine workers were reported trapped beneath the avalanche of soil and debris. An extensive search and rescue operation involving 800 personnel was quickly launched [4]. However, the threat of further landslides temporarily halted these efforts, with a team of 10 scientists dedicated to stabilizing the land to ensure the safety of the rescue teams [1].

In another interview, Mehmet Torun explained that a gold mine located on an active fault line in Erzincan and 300 meters away from the Euphrates River is very dangerous. He added that two years ago, after it was determined that a pipe carrying cyanide-containing solution burst in the mining complex, causing the solution to spread to the environment, the company was fined 16 million 441 thousand Turkish Lira however, following the penalty, the company immediately increased its capacity twofold [1,6].

The families of the trapped workers, along with the Independent Mineworkers’ Union, demanded justice and accountability. The Union labelled the accidents, including this one, as ‘murders,’ noting that 144 workers lost their lives in similar incidents in February alone [5].

On March 5, a significant development emerged as two engineers from the mining company were arrested, bringing the total to eight individuals detained in connection with the disaster. Yet, there remained no news of the trapped workers [5].

This tragedy highlights the urgent need for stringent safety regulations and environmental protections in mining operations. The potential contamination of the Euphrates River not only poses an immediate threat to public health but also signals broader environmental risks associated with mining. It underscores the importance of sustainable practices and the urgent need for policy reforms to prevent future disasters.

As we reflect on the Erzincan mine disaster, we must consider its implications for mining safety, environmental protection, and the health of river ecosystems upon which millions depend. This catastrophe serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of human activities and the environment, emphasizing the need for collective action and accountability.
In the wake of this disaster, it is critical to advocate for stronger regulations, improved safety standards, and greater environmental stewardship.

This moment calls for all stakeholders, from policymakers to environmental organizations, to unite to prevent such tragedies in the future. We owe it to the victims, their families, and our planet to ensure a safer, more sustainable future for mining and industrial practices worldwide.

BY ZEYNEP VEISOGLU

References:

[1] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/articles/ckveyyg5l25o

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-68292469

[3] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/envi/dv/envi20130925_info-cyanide_/envi20130925_info-cyanide_en.pdf

[4] https://www.euronews.com/video/2024/02/14/nine-workers-at-a-gold-mine-missing-in-turkey-after-a-landslide

[5] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/articles/c2q76y2g55po

[6] https://www.bbc.com/turkce/haberler-turkiye-61935902

london
CommitteeEducationEventsExecutive Committee

Join our ‘Move and Muse-Walk Through History’ event

‘Move and Muse-Walk’ project in Central London starts in March, led by London Advocacy and HRS, promoting history and community. Our project titled ‘Move and Muse-Walking Through History in Central London’ starts in March. The community walking and support project, run jointly by London Advocacy and Human Rights Solidarity (HRS), will give participants the opportunity to explore the historical and cultural richness of London. It also aims to improve participants’ physical and mental health, teach them new skills and build stronger links with the local community.

 

Funded by the London Marathon Foundation and Transport for London, an expert tour guide will explain the highlights of British history. The events, which will be limited to central London, will take place on the 2nd Saturday of each month and will last approximately 4 hours (11:00-14:00) including breaks.

Details about the programme are as follows:

  •  Participation in the programme with the family will be accepted.
  • We can accept a maximum of 25 participants for each trip. As we anticipate high demand, participants will be accepted in order of registration.
  • The hike will be led by a certified tour guide. During the hike, participants will be provided with headphones and will have the opportunity to listen to the guide’s narration remotely.
  • Participants will receive a certificate of participation (provided they have participated in at least 5 walks).
  • Most of the walks will take place in historic and tourist attractions in central London.
  • There will be no refreshments on the walks, but there will be a coffee break at the end of the programme.

For participation in the event, you can send an e-mail to

human-rights-panel
Executive Committee

Our human rights panel in Newcastle brought together 47 organisation

 

HRS hosted a notable panel in Newcastle, with NEDES, Asylum Matters, and Northumbria Police. 47 organizations and 100 guests participated. Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) organised a remarkable panel discussion in Newcastle. Organised by the Newcastle Branch of HRS, North East Diversity, Education and Solidarity Foundation (NEDES), Asylum Matters and Northumbria Police at St. Mary’s Heritage Centre, the ‘Human Rights Activism Panel and Networking Event’ was attended by 47 organisations operating in the city. 18 associations or foundations opened a promotional stand at the event and more than 100 guests attended the panel on ‘human rights and activism’.

In the panel, 5 experts working in the field of human rights made presentations on different topics. Dr Erhan Atay, Lecturer at Northumbria University, gave a presentation on ‘High-Skilled Refugees: Positive Psychological Capital for Coping and Resilience’, while HRS Consultant and journalist-writer Kerim Balcı provided answers to the question ‘How can local human rights organisations benefit from UN mechanisms?’

Jennifer Laws from Asylum Matters Foundation discussed the importance and challenges of defending the right to asylum in the UK; Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director of Skim Stone, discussed inequalities in the arts sector and the need to reconsider the importance of diverse voices and cultures. Richard Kotter, a lecturer at Northumbria University and Amnesty executive director, presented ‘How and why not to be popular within reason? Reflections on campaigning for accountability, fairness, justice and human rights’.

A guitarist and soloist from Skim Stone Art Gallery performed before and after the panel. In addition, the winners of the international cartoon competition on ‘migration’ organised by HRS and Time to Help UK were displayed on the walls and pillars of St. Mary’s Heritage Centre. The cartoons, which were presented by HRS volunteers, depicting the difficulties faced by refugees and migrants, were highly appreciated.

Mehmet Ozdemir, HRS Chairman of the Board of Trustee, gave an overview of the panel and the event and said that it was the first time in the UK that they had organised such a broad-based programme with local organisations and that it had been a success. Emphasising that HRS Newcastle Representative Office and NEDES’ devoted efforts were behind the success, Ozdemir said: “The success of the programme is not only limited to the fact that it was well organised, but also that there were very good breakthroughs on behalf of HRS. For example, we decided to work with Northumbria University in the future on the UPR reports we are preparing for submission to the UN. There were university students among the participants who wanted to volunteer for HRS. Most importantly, we saw that local organisations can fight for human rights on an international scale and we had the opportunity to make connections in this regard.”

 

Lebanon Israel Palestinians
BlogEnvironmental RightsExecutive Committee

The effects of the weapons used in Gaza

White phosphorus: A destructive chemical weapon, harming beyond the battlefield. Pollutes air, soil, water, harming life and violating international law. White phosphorus is a chemical weapon [1] of war and is designed to inflict harm and destruction. Unfortunately, its impact goes beyond the immediate targets on the battlefield. When white phosphorus is deployed, it releases toxic substances into the air, soil, and water, leaving behind a trail of environmental destruction. [2]

One of the most alarming consequences is the contamination of soil. White phosphorus can persist in the ground, making it infertile and unsuitable for agriculture. This not only affects the livelihoods of those in conflict zones but also has long-term consequences for the ecosystems that support diverse forms of life.

Furthermore, when white phosphorus comes into contact with water sources, it leads to water pollution. The release of this chemical weapon can contaminate rivers and lakes, harming aquatic life and disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems. The long-lasting environmental damage caused by white phosphorus affects not only the current generation but poses challenges for future generations as well.

According to The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [3] its prohibited to use incendiary weapons like white phosphorus against civilians. Unfortunately, it has been used against civilian in the Gaza Strip on 10th of October of 2023. We, as responsible global citizens, should condemn the use of white phosphorus as a weapon of war.

Another huge hazard is the release of asbestos in war inflicted areas. Asbestos is relatively safe when trapped in cement in building however poses a hazard when the building is destroyed such as demolition of buildings in Gaza. The consequences are alarming, as millions of tons of highly hazardous, asbestos-contaminated rubble are left in the wake of such destruction, presenting a long-term health threat. According to WHO expose leads to breathing difficulties and lung cancer.[4] Not only does it harm humans but animals too. Cats, dogs, and other animals can develop asbestos related illness where treatment option is limited and survival is low. [5]

Shortly, the devastating impact of white phosphorus extends far beyond the conflict area, leaving an lasting mark on both the environment and human lives. Additionally, the release of asbestos in conflict areas, poses an ongoing health threat for both humans and animals.

BY AYNUR BALKAS

 

References
[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/white-phosphorus
[2] https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts103.pdf
[4] https://geneva-s3.unoda.org/static-unoda-site/pages/templates/the-convention-on-certain-conventional-weapons/PROTOCOL%2BIII.pdf
[4] https://www.preventionweb.net/blog/rebuilding-ukraine-imminent-risks-asbestos
[5] https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/107335/9789289013581-eng.pdf?sequence=1

bg2
BlogExecutive Committee

Let’s meet in the program where we introduce our human rights activities

 

10 December is Human Rights Day and we look forward to welcoming you to the HRS Launch Programme on Zoom. Dear friends,
10 December is International Human Rights Day, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the proclamation of the UN Convention on Human Rights.
Let’s make use of this important day and make it more meaningful at a time when we are experiencing all kinds of rights violations.
As Human Rights Solidarity, which has been working in this field for 4 years, we will make a Zoom programme addressing the UK.
We will talk about what we have done so far, our goals for tomorrow, and what we can do together.
We sincerely believe that you will not leave us alone, in advance
nice we welcome you.

ZOOM LINK: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4392126770?pwd=ZkMrOE5TMGFOTmJaQnJjenBieTExZz09#success

ZOOM LİNKİ: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4392126770?pwd=ZkMrOE5TMGFOTmJaQnJjenBieTExZz09#success

 

breakfast
Executive CommitteeImmigration CommitteeProjects

‘Breakfast, Walk and Learn History’ project brought 20 young people together

GLA funded ‘Breakfast, Walk, Learn British History’ project begins with twenty youths exploring human rights, art, and critical thinking experiences. The ‘Breakfast, Walk, Learn British History’ project, which we have realised with the funding provided by the Greater London Authority, has started. 20 young people met at the HRS Office on 28 October and started the programme with a great breakfast. The young people had the opportunity to get to know each other during breakfast and had useful discussions at the seminar on human rights. Afterwards, the young people visited the National Portrait Gallery, where they had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation about art.

The seminar in the office focused on open dialogue, critical thinking and new perspectives – no fixed truths were preached. The participants examined constructive approaches to conflict resolution and the need to develop both intellect and moral character. Themes of developing wisdom, preserving dignity, finding common humanity and creatively applying enduring principles recurred. Freedom of expression was analysed in depth, both as a fundamental right and subject to reasonable limits to protect other rights.
Executive Committee

Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball’ Project Form

Register Form (#4)

‘'Hoops for Hope: Empowering Immigrant Youth Through Basketball' Project Form 

 

To register for the project, please provide the following details:

By filling out this registration form, you can secure your place in our basketball course. This course will improve your physical and mental health, as well as provide opportunities to make friends and interact more with the local community.

For further information, please contact main office or

bg1
Articles & StatementsEducationExecutive Committee

Join us! Here are the HRS volunteer programs

Volunteer at Human Rights Solidarity for hands-on experience in human rights advocacy, research, partnerships, leadership, and community engagement, enhancing employability. As a volunteer at Human Rights Solidarity, you will be immersed in a world of human rights advocacy and learning, gaining experience in research analytical skills, stakeholder engagement and partnerships, presentation skills, events coordination, and leadership positions.

 We have a range of volunteer opportunities from Research Analysts to Partnerships Volunteers to Group Leaders for our various immigrant integration programmes. Each of these experiences will equip you with valuable skills to carry you through your future careers and lives, opening your eyes to the world of human rights and public sector work.

 These roles are perfect for any young people with a desire to create a difference, help a local community, increase their employability in the human rights and government sphere, and a passion for human rights, community engagement, and policy change.

 

AVAILABLE ROLES:

 RESEARCH ANALYST

 As a Research Analyst you will be apart of a team investigating human rights violations in a specific geographical region or a specified topic by the team leader (e.g. women’s rights, trafficking, food and water scarcity etc.). Research methods may include podcast style interviews with experts and text-based analysis. Your will collate your research into a report to be published and on occasion submitted to European Parliament. This is a perfect role for anyone looking to enhance their research and report writing abilities and gain experience in the public sector.

 PARTNERSHIPS AND EVENTS COORDINATOR

 As a Partnerships and Events Coordinator, you will engage in the creation of projects in collaboration with other NGOs and organizations to increase our impact and ability to spread awareness of human rights violations. You may be responsible for working with a team of volunteers to plan events on specific topics of human rights work, contacting speakers, organizations, and participants. This is a great opportunity for anyone passionate about events or partnerships work in the public sector and with a love for project design and management.

 INTEGRATION GROUP LEADER

 As an integration group leader, you will lead one of a selection of immigrant integration programmes we host at HRS. This may be researching and presenting at bi-weekly Know Your Rights events for young asylum seekers and immigrants, leading groups on our Breakfast, Walk, and British History and Culture tours around London, or training young athletes in Basketball on the weekends. This is a great opportunity with a passion for ameliorating society for those less fortunate.

 Join us today and become a part of the HRS family! 

Become a hero

report-human-rights-violations-afghanistan
Council to EuropeExecutive CommitteeReportsUnited Nations

Our report on human rights violations in Afghanistan

We present our report on ‘The Humanitarian Crisis Emerging for Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees’ to UN and Council of Europe. “The Humanitarian Crisis Emerging for Afghanistan and Afghan Refugees” is a comprehensive and deeply impactful report that examines the intricate layers of the humanitarian crisis stemming from the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan and the subsequent displacement of Afghan refugees.

This meticulously crafted report not only presents a comprehensive analysis of the evolving situation but also adds a compelling human element through an insightful interview with a former female prosecutor who fled Afghanistan. By shedding light on the multifaceted issues at hand, this report aims to contribute to a better understanding of the situation and facilitate informed decision-making by governments, international organizations, and civil society.

Executive Committee

Form ‘Breakfast, Walk and Learn British History’ Project

Register Form

‘Breakfast, Walk and Learn British History’ Project Form 

By filling out this registration form, you can secure your spot and join us in the journey of discovery, connection, and learning about British history. We look forward to welcoming you to our warm and inclusive community!

For further information, please contact main office or