The joint campaign – Tencent for the Planet – will involve Tencent’s Weixin, QQ, and microblog platforms.
The company has already made a concerted effort to protect the public and wildlife by clamping down on malicious and illegal activities online.
It has observed the steady growth of illegal wildlife trade on the Internet through recent user complaints. As a result, in March Tencent shut down a group of social media accounts which were proven to be involved in illegal online wildlife business activities.
The rapid development of online media has put a lot of wildlife species at risk and has created huge losses for the global ecosystem and humans, as criminals have used the Internet for secret, fast and convenient communications and transactions.
This partnership is the first time Tencent has worked with conservation organisations to combat illegal online wildlife trade and protect elephants and other species.
Continued high demand for illegal wildlife products has greatly endangered many species like elephants, rhinos, and tigers, leaving some facing imminent extinction.
The world is experiencing the worst poaching crisis in history, rivalling that in the 1980s, when more than 800 tons of ivory left Africa every year and the continent’s elephant populations plunged from 1.3 million to 600,000.
Scientists estimate that only 430,000 African elephants remain today with one elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory.
As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.
The IFAW report of its 2014 investigation into online wildlife trade, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Exposing the Online Wildlife Trade, reveals that over 33,000 endangered wildlife and wildlife parts were available for sale online in a short six-week period.
“Although the Internet provides a platform for illegal wildlife business, it also offers the tremendous hope for saving endangered species,” says Grace Ge Gabriel, Asia Regional Director, IFAW.
“IFAW welcomes Tencent’s move to take positive actions to prevent wildlife crime via social media.”
“It is a win-win partnership, as Tencent has the most widely used social media services while TNC and IFAW have deep knowledge of conservation and international influence,” says Kaitian Guo, Chairman of Tencent Charity Funds Council and Senior Vice President of Tencent.
“The move signals a great collaboration of Tencent’s resources with TNC and IFAW’s conservation expertise. Tencent is committed to leading change in this Internet era in an ecologically harmonious way.”
Survivor Dr Hiromi Hasai recalls the horror of Hiroshima
20 October 2011
As part of the War In Profile series of events, A-Bomb: Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a poignant look at the effects of the first and, so far, only use of hostile nuclear weapons from World War II on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
Warning: this Interview contains graphic vision of horrific human injuries and death. Viewer discretion strongly advised.
The permanent members of the UN security council claim they want disarmament but at the same time develop ever more efficient ways of destroying the planet, writes JEREMY CORBYN
The UN Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference is held every five years. It is meant to monitor the effects of the spread of nuclear weapons around the world and ensure that the treaty is upheld.
Fundamentally the treaty has two big objectives: that all non-nuclear states who sign should not acquire or develop nuclear weapons, and that the existing nuclear weapon states (Britain, France, China, Russia and the US) should take steps to disarm, thus reaching the objective of a nuclear free world.
This review conference is drawing to a close and at the time of writing, the final declaration has not even been presented to the rather jaded delegates who’ve spent three weeks haggling over its details in endless committee meetings all over the UN in New York.
In reality it is the eternal debate of the permanent five and, despite all the public rhetoric, none have effectively moved towards nuclear disarmament — but in all cases have reduced the number of warheads they hold.
The development of nuclear weapons by India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel is obviously a threat and a danger, and an even greater danger would be the development of nuclear weapons by any other state. Interestingly, South Africa, the most prominent country to unilaterally give up nuclear weapons, is playing a very crucial role at the conference and its ambassador, Abdul Minti, commands huge respect amongst the many peace organisations in New York.
Before the conference began, there was a march of 7,500 people on the UN, with supporters from 20 countries who presented a letter to Taous Feroukhi who is the president of the Review Conference.
She accepted the seven million signature petition which called on all parties of the NPT to immediately develop a timetable to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, and called upon India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan to join the process without delay.
One of the issues has been the dishonesty of the nuclear weapon states who claim to be reducing the number of warheads and in some cases de-targeting existing ones. This narrative is undermined by a very interesting article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists nuclear notebook by Andrew Lichterman, who noted that “new or improved nuclear weapons programmes underway worldwide include at least 27 ballistic missiles, 9 cruise missiles, 8 naval vessels, 5 bombers, 8 warheads, and 8 weapons factories.”
Last December was the third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons hosted by the Austrian government in Vienna, which concluded with the Austrian pledge that “mindful of the unacceptable harm that victims of nuclear weapons explosions and nuclear testing have experienced, and recognising that the rights of these victims have not been adequately addressed,” calls for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
Belated participation in the conference in Vienna by the US and Britain sadly was only used as a platform for them to claim that their security depended on their nuclear weapons. It is quite possible that South Africa will host another Humanitarian Effects of Nuclear Weapons conference and thus further isolate the nuclear ambitions of the nine nuclear states of the world.
The 2005 conference called for the establishment of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Zone in the Middle East and a conference to set this in motion which would have to include both Iran and Israel to have any effect.
This conference has never been held despite Finland being tasked with hosting it, and at the last review conference in 2005 there was a unanimous vote to hold the conference. Since then the progress of negotiations with Iran has provided the basis on which the conference could be held. The exasperation of delegates regarding this lack of progress is clearly boiling over and the Russian delegation is tabling new proposals on how to take the matter forward.
Quite simply, if there is not a process of nuclear disarmament in the region, then any one of the immensely wealthy countries could purchase or provide their own nuclear weapons.
The case of the Marshall Islands who were the victims of 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and ’58 has become a cause celebre, and the government of the Marshall Islands has now instituted a case in the International Court of Justice against the one member on the P5+1 — five permanent members of the UN security council, namely China, France, Russia, the Britain, and the US, plus Germany — which subscribes to the International Court of Justice for its non-fulfilment of the disarmament obligations of the NPT.
The case is proceeding in the court.
Albert Einstein said: “Bullets kill men, but atomic bombs kill cities. A tank is a defence against a bullet, but there is no defence against a weapon that can destroy civilisation …”.
Depressing as the outcome of the conference looks, the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament is more vital than ever.
Britain has a huge role to play in this, with the newly elected Conservative government promising to pledge £100bn on replacing the Trident system which runs completely counter to the high-minded rhetoric of the P5 who claim they really want disarmament while at the same time developing ever more efficient ways of giving themselves the ability to destroy the planet.
BIRMINGHAM’S annual Pride parade today will be led by the original founders of the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group (LGSM).
LGSM, who gave valiant support during the year-long miners’ strike against pit closures of 1984-5, gained international prominence last year with the release of the film Pride.
The marchers will be joined by hundreds of trade unionists from across the Midlands.
The parade assembles in Victoria Square at 11am. At 2pm Birmingham LGBT centre will host a showing of the original film made by LGSM — All out! Dancing in Dulais.
Midlands TUC regional secretary Lee Barron called it “an honour” for hundreds of trade unionists from across the Midlands to join LGSM in leading the Birmingham Pride parade.
He said: “The support of LGSM in the miners’ strike is a moving story of solidarity. It is now 30 years since hundreds of miners joined the London Pride march.
“The miners who went on the London Pride march were reciprocating the solidarity LGBT people had shown throughout the 1984-5 miners’ strike.
The miners never forgot this solidarity and went on to support the campaigns for LGBT rights that have now been passed into law today.
“And this history is instructive, for we today need similar solidarity in order to give hope, belief and support to working people who are now facing hardship and difficulties, fighting for better pay, safer workplaces, decent jobs and greater equality.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced its intent to address millions of grisly and unnecessary bird deaths by strengthening implementation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, one of the nation’s oldest and most important wildlife conservation laws. The process will address threats like uncovered oil waste pits that trap and kill birds, gas flares that lure and incinerate birds, and unprotected communication towers and power lines that kill and electrocute birds by the tens of millions each year.
“Every day, countless death traps across America needlessly kill birds in horrible ways, from electrocution to drowning in oil – we’re talking about tens of millions of birds every year,” said National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold. “It’s time to end this terrible and unnecessary slaughter. There is hope: in many cases, the tools and technology to save birds have already been developed. It’s time to make sure everyone plays by the same rules. Protecting wildlife is a deeply held American value, and we know that when we do the right things for birds, we’re doing the right things for people too.”
While obtaining reliable estimates of bird mortality from various hazards is challenging due to lack of standardized procedures and poor or absent reporting by some industries, it is clear that millions of birds could be saved by addressing the following sources of mortality, all of which are named in the USFWS document released today:
Communication towers: Up to 50 million birds per year (Source)
Oil waste pits: 500,000 to 1 million birds per year (Source)
Gas flares: No reliable mortality estimates, but an infamous 2013 incident in Canada incinerated an estimated 7,500 birds (Source)
“This is just common sense. We can save the lives of millions of birds every year by adopting practical, inexpensive solutions that put an end to these death traps,” said Audubon Vice President for Government Relations Mike Daulton. “These horrific deaths have gone on far too long.”
(Brussels) – EU High Representative Federica Mogherini should publicly urge Gulf countries to release immediately and unconditionally activists detained for exercising their rights, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to her today. The letter was sent ahead of a Gulf Cooperation Council-EU ministerial meeting in Doha on May 24, 2015.
In June 2014, EU foreign ministers pledged to “intensify” the EU’s “political and material support to human rights defenders and step up its efforts against all forms of reprisals.” Human Rights Watch urged the EU to translate this commitment into concrete action and policy demands that go beyond mere expressions of support for those unfairly imprisoned.
Hundreds of dissidents, political activists, human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and bloggers have been imprisoned across the Gulf region, often for nothing more than exercising their rights to free expression and association. Many were convicted after unfair trials and allegations of torture in pretrial detention. GCC governments have responded to growing citizen use of social media by resorting to repressive laws and in some cases by enacting new, more draconian ones, in the name of national security.
In Bahrain, the rights situation continues to deteriorate. Some EU member states and Members of the European Parliament have called for the immediate and unconditional release of the prominent rights activist Nabeel Rajab. But the EU has yet to make a specific call for his release or that of 13 other high-profile activists – including two EU citizens, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja of Denmark and Khalil Al-Halwachi of Sweden. All are serving life or other long sentences on charges that relate solely to their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association.
The Saudi Interior Ministry issued a counterterrorism regulation in 2014 that designates certain groups as terrorist organizations and contains other provisions that proscribe acts such as “calling for atheist thought,” “throw[ing] away loyalty to the country’s rulers,” “contact or correspondence with any groups, currents [of thought], or individuals hostile to the kingdom,” and participating in or calling for protests or demonstrations.
In the United Arab Emirates, which claims to be a world leader in combating extremist ideologies, the human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori and 67 other defendants were convicted in 2013 of attempting to overthrow the state and sentenced to prison in a mass trial. The trial was undermined by due process violations and credible allegations that some defendants were tortured. A 2014 counterterrorism law includes death sentences for offenses used to prosecute peaceful critics of the government and people the authorities consider opposed to Islamic principles.
Five of the six GCC member countries have also ratified the November 2012 GCC Security Agreement, which includes a vaguely worded article that would suppress “interference in the domestic affairs” of other GCC countries. That provision could be used to criminalize criticism of GCC countries or rulers. Another provision provides for sharing citizens’ and residents’ personal data between GCC states at the discretion of GCC Interior Ministry officials.
“If the EU excludes its major trading partners in the oil-rich Gulf states from its oft-stated commitment to human rights, it will rightly be accused of hypocrisy,” Leicht said. “A weak EU response to Gulf states’ crackdowns on dissent isn’t going to help promote long-term stability in the Gulf.”
A Colombian trade union leader is beginning an unprecedented claim for damages against BP in the high court in London, alleging the oil company’s complicity in his kidnap and torture 13 years ago.
Gilberto Torres, 52, was abducted in February 2002 while driving home from an oil-pumping station in Casanare, eastern Colombia, and was released after 42 days, only after workers threatened a national oil strike. The case, which begins on Friday, will throw a spotlight on one of the murkiest periods in Colombia’s history, and the role of big business in it.
His lawyers say that it is the first time a union leader has been able to lodge a claim for human rights abuses against a multinational oil company in the high court. They believe his claim could pave the way for scores more similar actions. …
Torres tells his story for the first time in a Guardian online documentary. The film includes the extraordinary testimony of his kidnappers when they finally faced trial.
The UN estimates that 3,000 union activists were murdered and 6,000 more disappeared in the Casanare region in the last 30 years. The targeting of them by pro-government paramilitaries went largely unnoticed outside Colombia because of the civil war raging between the Colombian government and Farc, the leftwing guerrilla group.
Torres was abducted at gunpoint shortly after he organised a strike in protest over the murder of another union leader. He had received increased threats in the days leading up to him being taken.
He tells the Guardian how he watched as his captors, who later claimed they were paid to protect the pipeline by the oil companies, questioned a suspected Farc rebel. “They hit him. They insulted him. They spat on him. They battered him, until he confessed that he was part of Farc. With that admission, he signed his death warrant.
“They shot him twice in the neck. They cut his head, his legs and his arms off. And at the end the commander with a machete started to puncture his corpse. I understood then that this was going to happen to me.”
After six weeks in captivity, 10 days in a flooded outdoor pit infested with red ants, and days of interrogation aimed at getting him to confess to being a member of a leftwing guerrilla movement, Torres was unexpectedly handed over to the Red Cross. He is only the second trade union leader in the history of 40 years of conflict in Colombia to have survived an abduction.
Torres worked for the oil workers’ union USO, representing 400 members working on the 515-mile (830km) Ocensa pipeline, which carried crude from Casanare to the Caribbean Sea.
Ocensa was set up by major oil companies including BP, Colombia’s state-owned enterprise Ecopetrol, and four other multinational companies, to build and own the pipeline.
It was pumping $7m (£4.5m) worth of crude oil every day. BP was the biggest oil producer in the area.
Union protests sanctioned by Torres were disrupting production. He wanted to draw attention to the disappearance of union colleagues and had been highly vocal the previous week about members of an army brigade, charged with protecting the pipeline, training on company grounds.
BP, like other oil companies operating in Colombia at the time, paid a government tax of $1 a barrel to help finance army and police protection of oil facilities. According to journalists who carried out an investigation into BP’s security provision in 1995, the company signed a three-year collaborative agreement with the Colombia defence ministry worth $11.6m, of which BP would provide $2.2m.
Much of that was spent on the 16th Brigade, an army unit assigned specifically to protect the company’s oil installations. The army is accused of contracting out that work to local pro-government paramilitaries – with often lethal results.
In the wake of the oil boom, the Colombian army and paramilitaries brought to Casanare a US-designed counter-insurgency strategy of dirty war, known locally as “quitarle agua al pez” or “draining the fish tank”. Instead of fighting the guerrillas, they would target people they considered sympathisers.
Sue Willman, partner in Deighton Pierce Glynn, the London firm representing Torres, said there would be no accusation that BP was directly involved in his abduction. But the company had failed to take action to halt paramilitary activity.
Willman said: “Amnesty International went to BP a number of times warning them about the murders and disappearances. But BP failed to act effectively on the warnings.”
Pro-government paramilitaries who were convicted in Bogotá of kidnapping Torres claimed that Ocensa had paid for the murder. As well as its arrangements over the pipeline, BP had a 15.2% stake in Ocensa. Their testimony is heard in the Guardian documentary for the first time outside Colombia.
BP, Ocensa and Ecopetrol all deny they paid paramilitaries to guard the pipeline.