Support Activists Globally to Use Video for Change

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Support Activists Globally to Use Video for Change
Support Activists Globally to Use Video for Change
Support Activists Globally to Use Video for Change
WITNESS Training
WITNESS Training

Dear Friend,

In 2017, there were many new challenges to human rights, but it was also filled with stories full of solidarity, resistance and progress. WITNESS helps make it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. With team members and partners throughout the world, we continue to use video and stories to create change no matter the issue or geography.

This year, we have conducted in-person trainings in Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Somalia and South Africa, directly supporting more than 90 activists, lawyers and emerging trainers using video as a key part of their advocacy and documentation strategies. Additionally, through a combination of digital distribution of free resources and in-person trainings targeting influential activists, WITNESS reached well over 100 groups or activists across the African continent with vital skills and resources, empowering them to better integrate video into their efforts.

One example comes from our work in Guinea. The northern part of the country has become a hotbed for human rights violations directly linked to mining exploitation, including: the exposure of local communities to chemical products, environmental pollution, police and military brutality, forced evictions, exploitation of women and children, and more.

In September, WITNESS led a training in Conakry, Guinea for covering the basics of video as evidence, as well as our video advocacy methodology. Already since then, one of the participating organizations has created a series of videos to highlight women who are abused in mining sites. The efforts of this group demonstrate the appetite for WITNESS’ training in the region, as well as its potential to make a difference.

Your loyal support helps create new resources and provide trainings to people like our peers in Guinea and many others around the world using video to protect and defend human rights. Thank you for standing with us.

In solidarity,


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The Juba Wajiin community
The Juba Wajiin community

In 2011, the indigenous Júba Wajiín community learned that the government had granted two companies mining rights for the mountain region of Guerrero state in Mexico. The rights, which would encompass 80% of Júba Wajiín land, had been granted without any consultation with the indigenous community.

Frustrated, the Júba Wajiín decided to take action. They teamed up with Tlachinollan Centro de Derechos Humanos de La Montana to mount a legal challenge against the granted concessions on their territory, in the hopes of reclaiming their land.

Two years later at WITNESS’ co-convening of Video for Change activists working in Mexico and Central America, participants from the Tlachinollan Centro de Derechos Humanos de La Montana proposed the production of collaborative videos to support the Júba Wajiín’s efforts to fight the concessions.

Since then, WITNESS and other groups from the convening have worked with the community to plan an advocacy strategy and collectively create videos. The plan has been to make three different videos, all serving different functions. The first was produced for the judicial system and shows how the government violated the Júba Wajiín’s rights by failing to consult them, as well as proved their identity as an indigenous community. The second video tells the story of the case for allies and social networks, to raise awareness in the broader community.

Most importantly, we want this case to serve as a model for other indigenous communities fighting for their land, so the last video, which is still in progress, aims to tell the story from start to finish, enabling other communities to replicate their strategies.

With the help of these videos, amplification by news sources, and the efforts of the Júba Wajiín and their collaborators, the case was a groundbreaking success. In 2015, the mining companies relinquished their rights before the Supreme Court even reviewed the case, benefitting around 240 indigenous communities in Mexico, including the Júba Wajiín. Then, in July 2017, the Júba Wajiín won an unprecedented victory: the court ruled that mining operations cannot continue without consulting the indigenous community.

Thanks to their inspiring use of video advocacy with the support of WITNESS and other peer organizations, the Júba Wajiín have reclaimed their land and shown that video can create change. WITNESS will continue to support marginalized communities around the world using video and technology to stand up and act for their rights and together, we’ll secure dignity and justice for all.

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Amidst this climate of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” WITNESS is celebrating 25 years of supporting those documenting the truth.

 For 25 years we have enabled anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend human rights, and right now, we’re doubling down on our efforts to stand alongside communities fighting for change around the world.

 In May of this year, major protests erupted across Brazil after a recording surfaced allegedly showing Brazilian President Michel Temer participating in conversations with businessmen about bribery and corruption of high level politicians.

As the demonstrations grew, so did the violent police response to them, and the WITNESS Brazil team knew it was critical to share our guidance with protesters on the streets.  WITNESS’ Victor Ribeiro quickly created an image with the words: “A recording can shake up a government, or protect those that protest against it”.  

In just a few days, the image -- which was posted on social media alongside WITNESS’ tip sheets on how to collect video evidence and how to film protests safely and ethically -- was shared more than 400 times on Facebook, reaching 57,000 people.

Now more than ever, video is playing a crucial role in revealing abuses of power and fueling the resistance. With cameras, someone can expose government corruption in Presidential cabinets or capture police violence at local protesta. And with your support, WITNESS will continue to ensure that anyone, anywhere has the tools and skills to stand up and act for human rights.

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Today, it is not just human rights that are under attack, it is truth itself. For 25 years, WITNESS has dedicated itself to exposing the truth, and now with your support, we are more committed than ever.

Together, we’ve been making it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. Here are some of the incredible successes that you have made possible in the past few months:

In North Dakota, protesters have been fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline for months. The pipeline would cause environmental damage and destroy sites held sacred by the Sioux community. After an activist reached out to “thank [WITNESS] for existing”, noting that they were using our resources at the protest, we worked with indigenous activists and allies to customize our Video as Evidence Guide for the water protectors. Additionally, one of WITNESS’ partners was able to lead a series of trainings for activists on the front line and provide strategies for maximizing the impact of live video at pivotal moments as the fight for indigenous sovereignty and environmental rights continues.

WITNESS has also been ramping up our Mobil-Eyes Us initiative, which seeks to connect “distant witnesses” – the people who may not be physically present during a human rights crisis, but can nonetheless take action if asked for the right thing at the right time – with citizens and activists on the front lines.

In July and August 2016, WITNESS piloted this project with partners documenting human rights violations leading up to and during the Rio Olympics. We are now developing ways to contextualize and direct actions around a livestream, as well as bring in the right viewers in order to take action.

From livestreaming human rights abuses in Rio to supporting #NoDAPL protesters fighting for indigenous land rights, you are helping WITNESS equip activists with the skills and tools to amplify marginalized voices and uplift the truth.

Thank you, for standing up for human rights. Thank you, for making change possible.

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At WITNESS, we make it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend their human rights. Now, more than ever, our resources are crucial to giving people the power to enact change in their communities.

In the wake of the presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported over 700 acts of hate. Communities in the U.S. are threatened, and we’re responding.

With your support, we are doubling down on our work in the U.S., so that acts of hate are documented safely and effectively. By exposing hate, we can deter it, and hopefully achieve justice and accountability for the victims.

Thanks to you, WITNESS released its groundbreaking report, Capturing Hate, which analyzes videos of transphobic violence that have been shared online as entertainment. We suggest how we can use these horrifying videos as an innovative tool to expose the dangers of “walking while trans” and to shed light on an underrepresented issue. Please share our report, to help us change harmful attitudes and violence against the transgender community.

We’ve also been sharing critical guidance, like our new tip sheet Filming Hate, which outlines how to document hate speech and harassment safely and effectively. With this tip sheet, anyone, anywhere has the tools to expose and counter hate.

We are expanding our work in the U.S. and sending a message to perpetrators of abuse that we are watching - and won’t stop until justice is served.

WITNESS will also continue to serve activists around the world from Brazil to Ukraine to Cambodia, who are using video and technology to fight grave human rights violations in their communities. We’ll keep innovating new solutions for the ever evolving world of human rights and technology.

Thank you, for being a part of our family of human rights defenders. Together, we will make it possible for anyone to be a witness to change.

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Location: Brooklyn, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @witnessorg
Project Leader:
Brooklyn , NY United States

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