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2010 Hunger Alerts

Hunger Alert is to report an individual/communal case for right to food violation in Asia. It often contains issues such as; woman and child health; malnutrition; food production and agricultural structure; land reform; development project and displacement; poisoned food, and extreme poverty. It has been exposing that the more vulnerable social groups to food security in Asia are women, children, low caste community, tribal community (indigenous people), landless rural labourers, and migrants.

INDIA: A Mother and her six month old child face food and health insecurity under bonded labour

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a mother and her six month old child are currently facing food and health insecurity caused by bonded labour. The family living in the Balangir district of Orissa regularly migrated to Bangalore for the last two years to earn their daily food by working in a brick kiln. They did not have any resources to survive in the village. The mother lost her first daughter in 2008 due to lack of medical care. She currently faces a similar situation that may cause serious illness to her son and herself as the brick kiln owner allegedly does not provide adequate food and health care. Despite the passage of more than ten days since the husband managed to flee from the brick kiln to make a complaint to the district administration, the family has yet to get any help. There are two other families working in the same brick kiln as bonded labourers, which are legally banned in India. The food insecurity in Balangir has been driving the poor in the village to bonded labour.

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UPDATE (Philippines): A villager died due to lack of food and access to medical treatment due to extreme poverty

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform that an impoverished villager died on July 25, 2010. The family had been suffering from lack of food and could not afford to take the deceased to the hospital before he died. After the extreme situation of the family was reported (AHRC-HAG-001-2009), the government authority denied that they were living in hunger and poverty. Following his death the provincial government donated 25 kilograms of rice, and sand for the deceased’s burial. The family testified that they hardly manage adequate food and exist on rice and bananas.

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BANGLADESH: Extremely poor elderly are denied their right to life with dignity, deprived of food and health security in Gaibandha district

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received further information regarding the elderly suffering from food and health insecurity in Northern Bangladesh, which was initially reported in case (AHRC-HAG-002-2010). Four elderly have been denied their right to adequate food and health care, despite being eligible to receive benefits from the social security programs aiming to ensure food and health security in Bangladesh. All are landless, suffer from a range of health problems, and have no fixed source of income. They are reduced to begging because of the lack of the necessary funds to secure relief cards. It is alleged that corruption is involved because there is evidence that relief cards are only allocated to those who pay sufficient bribes to the officials.

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UPDATE (India): Call for immediate compensation for the victims as well as a thorough investigation with punishment for the alleged perpetrators

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you that action has been taken against officials found guilty of corruption and misappropriation of government funds intended for the poor in Orissa. However, to date the victims have not been granted compensation. Some village officials have been suspended or discharged from their duties but no charges have been brought against them.

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BANGLADESH: Corruption promotes food and health insecurity for elderly widows in Northern Bangladesh

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding elderly widows suffering from food and health insecurity. There has been no assistance from the government despite them being entitled to be beneficiaries of the social security programs. The corrupt public representatives, and servants in charge of implementation of the programs have deprived the elderly widows of their rights. It is discovered that some of the beneficiaries receiving food or cash subsidies had to pay bribes directly or indirectly to the public representatives of the Union Council. All the victims are landless and currently forced to beg to get food.

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FORWARDED (World): Stop Land Grabbing immediately!

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward an appeal from Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) International and La Via Campesina Emergency Network. Do not support the principles of "responsible" agribusiness investment promoted by the World Bank

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PHILIPPINES: 28 families are exposed to life insecurity after their houses and farms are illegally demolished by the Sheriff in Mindanao

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Task Force Detainees of the Philippines-Mindanao (TFDP) that the houses and properties, including the farms and trees of 28 families (137 villagers) were illegally demolished from the land they had lived on for more than 50 years in Bukidnon Province, Mindanao. The sheriff who commanded the destruction of all 28 families ignored a court order to exclude 11.5 out of 16.9 hectares, and furthermore he did not inform the villagers before the demolition. Consequently, all the victims currently suffer from lack of food and livelihood and are living in make-shift shelters. In particular, the children are extremely exposed to food and health insecurity. The victims filed complaints with the law enforcement agencies as well as other relevant government authorities. However their right to life is under threat and they are being neglected by the government.

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INDIA: Another massive misappropriation of government funds to ensure food security in Orissa

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from human rights defenders in Orissa who have discovered that government funds to ensure food security by providing employment in rural areas have been allegedly misappropriated by local officials. A farm pond project that was started to ensure salaries for the workers but they were forced to stop working and pay bribes instead. When the case was revealed, the alleged perpetrators tried to silence the human rights activists who brought it to light by assaulting them and filing fabricated cases against them. One of the perpetrators has been given a show cause notice but no guarantee that justice will be granted has been given to the victims.

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FORWARDED (India): Safeguard Agrarian Sector and Rich Biodiversity

Although the commercial introduction of Bt Brinjal was halted on 10 February 2010, the threat of genetically modified (GM) crops is imminent to return, as Prithviraj Chavan, the Minister of Science and Technology, is proposing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill which will lower the threshold of introduction of GM crops.

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UPDATE (India): A call for further legal process against the corrupt government official and compensation for the victims

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to inform you that action has been taken to bring some relief to workers whose wages were misappropriated (for the details, please see the previous case). However, 14 out of the 16 have been partially reimbursed, and two are waiting for any reimbursement. No prosecution has taken place against the corrupt official who is currently on suspension.

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INDIA: A corrupt supervisor misappropriated the wages of 16 illiterate workers depriving them of their food security

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received information from SPREAD, a human rights organization based in Orissa, that the wages of 16 illiterate workers employed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) were misappropriated by the supervisor in charge of the project. The villagers are landless and without a regular source of income and NREGS is one of the government programmes to guarantee the food security of the poor in rural areas. The villagers made a complaint to the Block Development Officer and the district Collector however, the alleged perpetrator has not been brought to justice.

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INDIA: Extreme starvation claims five lives of a tribal family in Orissa

The Asia Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that extreme poverty and long-term starvation lead to the death of five members including two children under age of six of the same family of a tribal community from September to December 2009. It is also reported that within the last two years starvation claimed the lives of 50 among the 35-40 age group in the same village. It has been exposed that all forms of government programmes aiming to ensure food security for the poor and children have not reached Borumal village properly. Even after several complaints from the villagers, the administration authority has never taken action to respect the right to food of the villagers by implementing those schemes. The Right to Food Campaign Orissa filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for the case and the AHRC strongly urges the relevant authorities to take immediate action for the villagers who have been denied of their right to food.

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UPDATE (Indonesia): The villagers living in famine-affected areas in 2009 have still not received adequate food and medical aid

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the affected villages where 113 people died of starvation with associated illnesses in 2009. The AHRC has reported in AHRC-HAC-006-2009 on 16 September 2009 asking for immediate action for the affected seven districts in order to ensure their right to food, the lack of which threatens their right to life every year. Despite of government promises, only some of those areas have received food assistance whereas other areas have yet to receive anything at all. Above all, basic infrastructure and agricultural system have not been improved which is the most primary element to guarantee food security in Papua. The AHRC is deeply concerned that failure of harvest will contribute to continuous hunger in the affected areas.

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INDIA: Twenty-eight tribal children in two villages have died of malnutrition in the last three months in Madhya Pradesh

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that 28 tribal children have recently been allowed to die of malnutrition. According to a field report by Madhya Pradesh Lok Sanghash Sajha Manch and the Right to Food Campaign Madhya Pradesh, the families of the deceased children have clearly been deprived of their right to food and right to health of the children in particular, due to the failure of government programmes to reach tribal communities. Despite this, the relevant government authorities have not yet taken action to support the victims, or other children in the villages confronting the same situation.

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INDIA: Seven children suffer from starvation and child labour in Orissa

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that Ms. Bhuje died on New Year's Eve after struggling against sickness and hunger since April 2009. She leaves behind seven children. Before Bhuje's death, her husband died of Tuberculosis in January 2009. Facing lack of food and lack of a sustainable livelihood, all the children are deprived of their rights. Only after the intervention by the Right to Food Group and the media in October 2009, did the relevant authority provide temporary support. Furthermore, Bhuje was denied the government support that she was entitled to and even humiliated by government officials including the District Collector. Five of the children are currently working as child labourers instead of going to school.

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Official letter from Orissa government regarding Bhuje Naik case

This is a letter dated on 25 February 2010 from the department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Orissa government.

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INDIA: Government's neglect and corruption drives a 30 year-old Dalit woman to death through starvation

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) draws your attention to the starvation death of a 30-year-old woman belonging to the Scheduled Caste (known as 'untouchables' or 'Dalits') in Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh. According to the field research by Jay Shiksha Kendra and the Right to Food Support Group, all the members of the family, including the victim, could barely manage to obtain half a piece of Indian bread per day during the last month. The deceased victim did not eat any food for four days before she died on December 16, 2009. Despite of this, to date, no government programmes targeting the poor have reached the family.

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INDIA: 75 bonded labourers including 40 children were released

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding 75 bonded labourers working in a brick kiln in Bangalore who were released on 16th and 17th, September. The AHRC has released a hunger alert case urging the administration of Balangir district as well as of Bangalore city to secure redress for the labourers and the children. The civil groups in Orissa who have been trying to get the bonded labourers released from the brick kiln worked closely with the relevant officials who raised the issue of redress for the victims. Forty out of 75 labourers are children. The six month-old son of Ashok, one of the bonded labourers is currently hospitalised for medical care. The AHRC further urges the state government to take legal action against the brick kiln owner and to pr ovide rehabilitation for all victims.

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