Slavery in the spotlight

April 15th, 2013

End it

When I was at school, we were taught about how slavery was abolished in Britain and the USA. This was obviously a good thing.

It came as a shock to find out, some years ago now, that there are more slaves in the world than ever before.

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The oppression goes on?

April 4th, 2013


Indonesia has, at various times over the years, been both the victim of oppression and colonial rule and the oppressor. For two centuries the Dutch East India Company virtually ruled the islands that comprise Indonesia as they profited from the spice trade. Later, the Dutch East Indies was a part of the Dutch colonial empire, and finally won its independence as Indonesia in the years after World War 2.

Since then, Indonesia has itself oppressed indigenous people as it annexed East Timor and West Papua. East Timor now has its independence, but the people of West Papua have had to endure massive immigration of Indonesians from crowded islands in their sparsely populated land, and significant oppression.

There are arguments on both sides of the question, of course, but there is little doubt that the indigenous people of West Papua have lost out and been treated badly. Countries like Australia support Indonesia in their annexation of West Papua, probably because we did the same to the indigenous people of Australia only two centuries ago, so how can we say anything? But the whole situation still rankles with many people.

Support two oppressed men

Amnesty International has recently reported that two Papuan men have been detained by police, allegedly tortured and held without access to lawyers or medical treatment.

You can read about it here, and sign an online petition seeking fair treatment for them. If you care, take the time, just do it!


Photo: Amnesty International

Tony’s Chocolonely – serious chocolate!

January 22nd, 2013

Tony's Chocolonely

Regular readers will know that one of my ’causes’ is ethical chocolate – chocolate that is grown by free farmers who are paid a fair wage, and not by trafficked children working more or less as slaves. (For background, see Ethical chocolate update.)

So it was with great delight that I received a weighty package in the mail recently and discovered a story of dark criminality and desperate legal actions.

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Atheists vs christians: does it have to be war?

December 1st, 2012


Disagreements between christians and atheists seem to have heated up in the last decade or two. Whether it is because atheists have become more convinced of the evils of religion, or there are just more of them these days, or whether it is because christians are feeling more under threat, I don’t know. Or perhaps it’s just another outcome of the impersonality of the internet.

But I do know that things can often get unpleasant or even downright nasty, and that there are those on both sides who argue this is a justifiable and even necessary tactic.

But here’s one commentator who pleads for a little more tolerance and humour. (I saw this piece some time ago, but only now got around to posting about it.)

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Climate change

October 12th, 2012

Climate change words

I’ve been intending for a while starting a new section on Is there a God? about making a difference in the world. Finally, the baby’s born!

The first topic is climate change.

Don’t go away just yet. Even if you’re not all that interested, please check out the rest of this post to see why it’s important.

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Easter eggs and slavery

March 15th, 2012


Easter’s coming soon, and if you live in the west as I do, you’ll probably be eating your share of easter eggs. But what if the eggs came from cocoa grown using child labour, that is effectively slave labour?

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Fair Trade chocolate – report 2

December 25th, 2011

Growing cocoa

Back in November I reported on exploitation in the world cocoa trade in My pleasure, their misery?. At that time I wrote about this to two prominent chocolate manufacturers.

I subsequently reported (Fair Trade chocolate – report 1) that I had received a reply from Cadbury indicating their ongoing support for Fair Trade products. I think they could do more, but it is encouraging that they have come this far.

Now, more than a month after I wrote to Darrell Lea, I still have not received a reply. Of course, Christmas is probably their busiest period, so I may hear from them in January. We shall see.

Anyone want to join in writing to Darrell Lea, and also to Nestle, Lindt or others?

Photo courtesy of World Vision.

Fair Trade chocolate – report 1

December 8th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I outlined some facts about exploitation in the growing of cocoa for chocolate (see My pleasure, their misery?) and at the same time wrote to two prominent chocolate manufacturers expressing my concerns and asking them to make more concerted moves to only source cocoa from growers who were paid a fair wage and were not exploiting children.

I have had one answer back.

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October 16th, 2011

On 8 October actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to 90 lashes and one year jail in Iran for her part in the Australian film My Tehran for Sale. I’m a little late in posting this, but its not too late to sign an Amnesty petition to the Iran government opposing flogging.

Amnesty: End flogging in Iran