Image credit: Free The Hikers
From child labor in the cocoa industry to human rights issues in the oil industry, we've often reported on the intersect between environmentalism and social justice—but all too often environmentalism and human rights are considered too separate issues. I'm reminded once again that this is rarely the case—if we want to create a stable, sustainable world that treats its environment with respect, we have to treat each other with compassion and respect too.
Take the case of the jailed American hikers in Iran. While news coverage of who they are and what they were doing has often been sketchy, it turns out that they have a history of fighting for environmental and social causes. Now the permaculture community is rallying around to free them so that they can continue their work. Tony Rollinson reports over at Permaculture Magazine that all three of the jailed American hikers are committed environmental and anti-war activists, and that Josh Fattal in particular is a passionate advocate of small-scale agriculture, permaculture and sustainable development. He's a graduate of the internship program of the Aprovecho Research Center in Oregon—an organization whose work on efficient rocket stoves we've reported on before—and from January to June 2009 he was a Teaching Fellow with the International Honors Program (IHP) "Health and Community" study abroad program in Switzerland, India, China, and South Africa.
Josh was visiting his friends from the University of California, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd, who were working as an investigative journalist and a teacher of Iraqi refugees respectively in Damascus, Syria. The group decided to visit a tourist area of Kurdistan to hike, and it was in this area that they were detained. All three adamantly insist that they had no intention of entering Iran. While Sarah has since been released on compassionate grounds, both Josh and Shane have been held for 755 days now and were recently sentenced to 8 years in prison.
From facilitating safe sanitation and humanure in Haiti to greening the deserts of Jordan, the permaculture community has a long history of sharing resources, skills and connections across international and cultural borders. Sometimes that process sees people stepping into precarious or politically unstable regions. It's good to see that this same community is willing to speak out and seek to protect some of its own.
More on Human Rights, the Environment, and International Permaculture
Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry
Chevron Cleared in Nigeria Human Rights Case
Teaching Humanure in Haiti
Greening the Deserts of Jordan