Invested in crisis

Mohamed Yusuf left his home in Ottawa’s Heron Gate community in October 2018, following about four months of organizing with the tenant coalition resisting an eviction order issued by their landlord, Timbercreek Asset Management Inc. 

In the end, Yusuf and his neighbours – largely racialized, immigrant, and low-income families – were forced to leave their homes, and the 150 low-rise townhouses in the city’s south end were demolished. Over 500 people were evicted. Timbercreek’s new plan for the area includes around 5,500 units with 20 per cent earmarked as affordable housing. Yusuf calls the Heron Gate evictions a step “to systematically remove those immigrants from the area and bring some middle-class families in there.”

Yusuf’s eviction wasn’t just an example of gentrification; it was part of a larger pattern of financializing housing. Timbercreek is one of many financial actors – including asset managers, private equity firms, and real estate investment trusts (or REITs) – that make up the global financialized housing system. 

Read the full story in Briarpatch Magazine.

The case for a human rights response to homeless encampments

Haseena Manek and Leilani Farha

A pattern is emerging. For two years running, the month of January has triggered the forced eviction of homeless people living in encampments in Toronto. 

This was the fate of those living in the Rosedale ravine a few weeks ago. They were evacuated ostensibly to preserve the ecology of the area, though it’s just as likely that their removal had to do with pressure from neighbours. 

Similarly, almost exactly a year ago, homeless folks living under the Gardiner Expressway had their encampment torn down for fire safety reasons. A few weeks later, a cluster of transparent domes – infrastructure for a luxury pop-up dining concept dubbed Dinner With A View – appeared nearby in a twisted metaphor for gentrification, with a heavy dose of irony.  

What’s happening in Toronto is mirrored across the country, with tent cities dotting the Canadian landscape in Edmonton, Winnipeg, London, Peterborough, North Bay and Fredericton. Regardless of where they spring up, the experience is disturbingly similar – deplorable conditions and, eventually, eviction.

Read the full story in NOW Magazine.

Human rights support centre workers fight back against provincial cuts

“Our thing is that, as front line work is being cut, overall it affects the people of Ontario being served. I mean, what are they to do? If they’re being discriminated [against] in a human rights matter, what do they do? It’s not just impacting our front line people, it’s impacting the people of Ontario. That’s why our slogan is Human Rights Matter because it should matter. It should matter to all Ontarians, to all people.”Angela Huynh-Chew, Legal Case Coordinator at the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), in an interview with Rankandfile.ca.

Read the full story at Rank and File.

HRD World Summit 2018

A Bulletin for Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders.

Rights on the Line brings you a brief bulletin from Paris today where a hundred and fifty human rights defenders from across the globe have gathered for the Human Rights Defenders World Summit.

‘Assam is boiling’

Human rights defenders struggling to support millions left in immigration limbo by India’s National Register of Citizens

Tanya Singh & Haseena Manek

It has been two months since India threw nearly four million people into a desperate scramble to prove their citizenship or risk deportation. The government published a draft of the National Register of Citizens in late July and the effects were immediate: millions excluded from the list were made to produce evidence of their legitimate claims, security forces were put on alert to quell potential violence in a region with a history of persecuting ethnic minorities, and at least one thousand people are still being held in criminal jails serving as immigration detention centres.

Read the full blog post on Front Line Defenders website.

Interview with an HRD: Pâmella Passos

A Profile segment from Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders.

Brazilian human rights defender Pâmella Passos. Pamella spent six weeks in Dublin as part of Front Line Defenders’ Rest and Respite program earlier this summer, just months after the death of her friend and well-known human rights defender and councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was murdered in Rio de Janeiro in on the 14th of March.

National elections and human rights

Feature Episode 6 of Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders.

On this episode we talk about elections and how they can impact human rights defenders. By looking at some of the federal elections that have taken place this year, we’ll be able to see the different and nuanced ways political changes at the national level can impact the situation for those fighting for human rights in that country. Over the next half hour we’ll be moving region to region across the globe to discuss recent elections in Mexico, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Cambodia.

Military violence in #ZimElection2018 fallout

A Bulletin for Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders.

Front Line Defenders boardmember Arnold Tsunga speaks from Mozambique today, to give update on the situation in Zimbabwe following Monday’s presidential election. Six people have been killed by police who fired at protestors with live rounds, tear gas and water cannons. In addition to the violent response to demonstrations, there are reports of the military preemptively targeting Human Rights Defenders to prevent dissent.

Election day in Zimbabwe

A Bulletin for Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders.

Today, Rights on the Line brings you a brief bulletin on the current election in Zimbabwe. Front Line Defenders Boardmember, Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists and Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Arnold Tsunga, has returned to Zimbabwe to participate in today’s federal election. Arnold, who is part of a team conducting election monitoring, spoke with Rights on the Line from a polling station in Mutare earlier today to update us on how election day is going.