By Umila Singh and Jackie Zammuto
Over 15 million people globally are threatened with forced eviction each year. Yet, these violations are often undocumented and unchallenged due to lack of resources and information on rights. However, activists now have a new tool to fight back: the Forced Evictions Advocacy Toolkit.
Comprised of informative guides and videos, the Toolkit provides activists and communities guidance in using video to document and advocate against these violations. From citizen journalists in India to audiovisual artists in Colombia, many have used the Toolkit to strengthen their grassroots work in the fight against forced evictions and to empower more to get involved.
This is the second in our two-part blog series highlighting where and how people around the world are putting Forced Evictions Advocacy toolkit. Check out part one here.
Throughout Kenya, slums are often excluded from the development of city plans, meaning these communities do not receive essential public resources or services. To support advocacy work for people living in slums and informal settlements, Amnesty International Kenya is sharing the Toolkit in workshops, public forums and at monthly human rights cafe gatherings. The “Forced Evictions: Know Your Rights” guide has helped to educate and empower housing rights activists and communities affected by forced evictions, while the and “Know Your Obligations: A Guide to Preventing Forced Evictions” guide has supported the work of advocates and legal officials lobbying for legislative and policy changes to end forced evictions.
Community correspondents with our allies at Video Volunteers frequently produce reports on issues of displacement due to development projects, such as the Sardar Sarovar dam which has forced 200,000 people out of their homes and now threatens another 200,000 with eviction.
In an effort to open dialogues with communities facing eviction, the group will show the Hindi versions of “Evict Them!” and “People Before Profit” at community screenings. They plan to translate all of the Toolkit resources into Hindi and will include locally-produced training materials and videos in the package. The Hindi version of the Toolkit will be used in trainings with community correspondents and shared with community members at screening events and workshops. The “Know Your Rights” guide has already been translated into Hindi, Oriya and Marathi and is being distributed to community correspondents in online and offline spaces.
Video Volunteers is launching a new forced evictions campaign aimed at training community correspondents to create a body of documentation and visual evidence that will explore the role of the State in perpetuating forced evictions and encourage the Indian public to discuss what development means to them. Stay tuned for updates on the campaign.
In April, WITNESS’ Laura Salas traveled to Medellín, Colombia where she met with a team of 5-7 youth activists, community organizers and students to discuss plans for an advocacy video about the impending eviction of the La Cascada community and to further develop the activists’ video production skills. The team is also working with the media collective, Punto Link, who is involved in creative multimedia projects aimed at preserving the memory of communities facing eviction in Medellín. Read more about Punto Link’s work in the neighborhood of El Naranjal.
While in Medellín, Laura participated in the World Urban Forum 7 (WUF) and the People’s Alternative Urban Social Forum (PAUSF). With the support of the Habitat International Coalition and International Alliance of Inhabitants, she conducted three video advocacy trainings with a total of 80 local and international activists and community members and distributed 400 Toolkit DVDs. Laura also screened the videos “Evict Them!” and “People Before Profit” to over 120 people at related events.
Our partners at the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO and LICADHO-Canada) have gained international attention with their t-shirts emblazoned with “the Whole World Is Watching,” proudly worn by hundreds of activists during protests and marches against forced evictions. LICADHO and its networks have begun to distribute the Toolkit DVDs to community leaders and residents during local meetings and gatherings on housing and land rights. Additionally, the Khmer version of “Evict Them!” and “People Before Profit” will be screened during video training sessions with activists.
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