You may already be a supporter of Human Rights Watch. You may be thinking about joining us for the first time. But either way, here's why it's critically important that you stand with us in 2009.
Our supporters - people like you - make it possible for us to influence world events and to enforce human rights values in places around the world where governments trample on people's basic freedoms.
Protecting People in Times of Conflict
When armed conflicts break out, civilians get caught in the crossfire and have few places to turn for protection. In Georgia, a country in the Casucasus, we have a compelling responsibility to find out what happened when civilians were trapped with no protection after Russia's forces invaded, with marauding Ossetian irregulars behind them. Our investigative teams on the scene are uncovering evidence of widespread abuses against civilians, and we're publishing our findings in up-to-the-minute press releases. We're documenting incidents of civilian deaths during the fighting. We're finding evidence of cluster bombs and other indiscriminate weapons. And we've witnessed armed Ossetian militia torching the homes of ethnic Georgian villagers who were forced out. Your financial backing will help us to continue to get the facts about civilian deaths, hold Russia and Georgia responsible for violations of the laws of war, and ensure that displaced persons who return home are protected from further abuse.
Bringing Human Rights Abusers to Justice
When brutal dictators trample people's basic rights, the victims rarely see justice done. But we made Charles Taylor an exception to that rule. Throughout Taylor's cruel reign as the president of Liberia, we documented the atrocities of the rebel groups he backed in neighboring Sierra Leone. We showed the world the horrific acts of violence the committed - murdering and mutilating civilians, using women and girls as sex slaves, and abducting children and making them perform forced labor or become fighters. Using our evidence, we pressed governments and U.N. officials to hold Taylor accountable. And when he fled into exile, we mounted an intensive effort to have him surrendered to the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone which had previously indicted him for war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a result, he is now on trial by the Special Court. For security reasons Mr. Taylor's trial is taking place in The Hague.
Defending Civil Society and Human Dignity
All too often, those who have power in our society find it easy to exploit the most vulnerable. When the governments who are supposed to protect people turn the other way, we must speak out. Among the most vulnerable are the millions of migrant workers who travel to another country to improve their economic situation. From Saudi Arabia to Southeast Asia, Human rights Watch has revealed that these workers often find themselves at the mercy of employers. Sometimes the jobs promised to them don't exist, and they're forced to accept alternative work. Or they're made to work in extremely dangerous or oppressive conditions. After we revealed stories of exploited migrant workers and called on governments to defend their rights, numerous government ministries have responded with new laws to protect these workers and hold employers accountable for their actions.
This is what is at stake: the existence of basic freedoms and justice hang in the balance in many places throughout the world. And when individuals are robbed of their liberty and dignity and nobody tells their stories and demands justice, it diminishes the cause of human rights everywhere.
More than ever, we need concerned and informed citizens like you to speak out and send us your financial assistance.
Please click here to make your secure online donation and to join us as we expose the truth, apply pressure, and bring about deep-rooted change.