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Human Rights Day 2012: Marking Worker Rights Worldwide

Yessica Hoyos Morales. Photo by Tula Connell.

This is an excerpt of "Human Rights Day 2012: Marking Worker Rights Worldwide" from the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center.  

Nearly 3,000 trade union leaders have been murdered in Colombia over the past 20 years and the killing continues, with at least 35 unionists murdered so far this year. Yet behind each statistic is an individual, says Colombian lawyer and human rights activist, Yessica Hoyos Morales. Someone much like her father, Jorge Darío Hoyos Franco, a Colombian labor leader, who was assassinated in 2001 by two hired hit men.

“We are a generation that saw these crimes perpetrated against our parents. The government of Columbia wants them to disappear,” with the killers unprosecuted,” says Hoyos. She recently founded Sons and Daughters Against Impunity and for the Memory of the Fallen, an organization whose members carry on the struggles of those killed or exiled. Hoyos spoke at the Solidarity Center on Friday during a multi-city U.S. visit to describe to members of Congress and other decision-makers how the Colombian government has not kept its promise to find and prosecute the killers of trade unionists and other human rights activists.

Today, on the 64th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, actions worldwide are commemorating those like Hoyos’ father, a mine worker killed for trying to ensure decent working conditions.

International Human Rights Day is a day to recognize that human rights violations happen when job safety is ignored, as it was when 112 garment workers were killed at the Tazreen factory last month in Bangladesh. It offers a moment to remember how workers can put their lives at risk for walking out on strike, as did the 34 South African miners gunned down by the police earlier this fall.

Read the rest on the Solidarity Center blog

An international coalition of unions, the ITUC, released the following statement:

December 10th is an important date for the trade union movement, not only because labour rights are human rights but because the guarantee of human rights for all underpins social and economic justice. Unfortunately, 2012 has been another difficult year for workers in most parts of the globe, with many facing imprisonment or death at the hands of their governments or injury and death on the job as a result of negligent corporations.  

Read the rest of the ITUC statement here

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