News

Caterpillar disinvestment move hailed

11 February 2009 - 11:53am

Investors urged to follow Church lead

War on Want welcomes the decision by the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar. Institutional investors are today urged to follow the Church by disinvesting from a company whose bulldozers have been used to build the Separation Wall and destroy Palestinians' homes.

The call, from the anti-poverty charity War on Want, comes after the Church of England decision to divest £2.2 million from Caterpillar on financial grounds.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "The Church of England's decision to disinvest from Caterpillar is welcome. It also brings the Church in line with its own ethical investment policy and the decision of the General Synod. Now other institutional investors should take similar action."

War on Want has long called for the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar on the grounds of the company's complicity in the violation of Palestinian human rights.

In the report Profiting From the Occupation, the charity attacked Caterpillar over selling bulldozers for the Israeli army to destroy Palestinian homes, schools, orchards and olive groves.

It said that equipment from Caterpillar was also used to construct the Separation Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.

And the UN has singled out Caterpillar in particular for its collusion with Israel's human rights abuse.

In 2006 the Church of England General Synod voted to withdraw its investment from Caterpillar. But the Church Commissioners failed to follow the Synod's decision.

After the Israeli onslaught against Gaza in recent weeks, Palestinian civil society groups, including the charity's partner Stop the Wall, have called for an escalation of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media officer (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Protest music thrives in South Africa's shack settlements

10 February 2009 - 2:24pm

In South African's shack settlements activists are increasingly using music to oppose government policies that violate the rights of the poor. Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM), a grassroots movement of shack dwellers and War on Want partner, has been at the forefront of this powerful form of resistance.

During the Apartheid era activists opposing the South African government were prohibited from contributing to mainstream media outlets such as national newspapers and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). As a result of strict government control over the media, South African activists turned to a range of alternative sources to express their opposition to the minority rule government. Music in particular emerged as a crucial channel through which activists could mobilise against and raise awareness of the oppressive nature of the regime.

After the fall of Apartheid regime 15 years ago, music still plays a role in the movement to oppose policies that have devastated poor communities. On their recently released album ‘Hlis'uMoya' (‘bringing salvation' in isiZulu), the Dlamini King Brothers, a 12-member acapella choir based in Durban, South Africa, lament the conditions faced by poor communities - and the failure of government to safeguard their rights.

abm_thumbThe Dlamini King Brothers are based in the informal settlements of Durban where Abahlalibase Mjondolo (ABM), a War on Want partner organisation, began its landmark campaign against evictions and the lack of public services for communities of shack dwellers. In recent years ABM has earned many crucial victories in its struggle promoting the rights of the poor communities located in and around Durban.

ABM's efforts in building a powerful movement have been supported by the music of groups like Dlamini King Brothers. The group pays tribute to ABM on their latest album with a song named ‘Ablahali'. The song praises the organisation for its campaign work on behalf of Durban's poor communities. In the song the group calls on the government to listen to the needs of impoverished communities, echoing ABM's own call to government officials to ‘talk with us, not for us'.

Many Apartheid-era pieces of legislation have remained on the books despite the rise to power of the African National Congress, depriving South Africa's shack dwellers a role in the political process. These communities face a range of social problems, from a lack of clean water and electricity in their homes to inadequate health care and a subpar education system. Moreover, the recently passed Slums Act has resulted in thousands of forced evictions and the demolition of shack settlements. As South Africa prepares for the 2010 World Cup, it is expected that the number of forced removals will increase.

In spite of the challenges faced by poor communities, ABM and the shack dwellers will continue to fight for their homes and for the provision of social services. As the group builds its movement, ABM and poor communities in the Durban area will continue to draw inspiration and strength from the music of the Dlamini King Brothers.


You can listen to the song 'Abahlali' by the award-winning Dlamini King Brothers, and purchase the album online by contacting ABM

Also available online is 'A Place in the City', a recently made documentary about ABM

Comment is free: The perils of more globalisation

3 February 2009 - 12:00am

Despite what Gordon Brown says, we need a completely new approach to the world economy - not more of the same.

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World Social Forum 2009: A fitting end

1 February 2009 - 1:45pm

wsf_2009_-_dance

Sunday is the final day of the forum, a day for the assemblies to convene in order to address the 10 themes of the WSF. They are meant to bring together the statements, plans and calls that have emerged from the forum. This is a difficult process of course, but over the last three days thousands of people had been working into the night to produce common goals. This underlines how the WSF is trying to forge a common vision of what the world might be like, but without squashing or crowding out any views or perspectives. It can tiring and sometimes frustrating, but it's also inspirational.

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World Social Forum 2009: Tax justice

31 January 2009 - 6:43pm

In the afternoon we went to a tax justice meeting. Tax is one of War on Want's campaigns and the meeting emphasised the need to keep working on this issue in the UK. London is the world's tax haven and Gordon Brown a key defender of tax havens internationally.

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World Social Forum 2009: A viable model

31 January 2009 - 3:59pm

The great thing about the WSF is the experiences you have between the meetings. In many ways you learn more from chance meetings than the main planned events. At lunch we shared our table with a group who runs a solidarity bank in one of Brazilian states. They showed us the special currency they use and explained that people are paid partly in this currency, which local shops and business accept. This system ensures that money stays with the community. This seems a powerful alternative to the current mess our present economic model has caused.

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World Social Forum 2009: System failure

31 January 2009 - 1:33pm

That afternoon Dave spoke about the mobilisation against the G20 in London on March 28, which War on want is taking a lead in organising. The session was aimed at getting groups together to push forward an alternative to ‘casino capitalism', a system has taken away jobs and lives all over the world. Unfortunately were hit by the (in)famous technical problems that have plagued the forum from day one and didn't have interpretation. But with help of a few volunteers we carried on.

 

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World Social Forum 2009: Migration and workers' rights

31 January 2009 - 10:34am

This morning it rained and didn't stop. Walking past the damp and muddy youth camp on the way to the first seminar was far more reminiscent of UK festivals than the sunny weather we had expected. We went to a meeting on migration with speakers from unions across the world and groups including SOLIDAR. The focus was mainly South-North migration but it was also noted that most migrants travel from one Southern nation to another.

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Keep ethical trading in fashion

31 January 2009 - 12:00am

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