Front Porch Blog

Voices from Appalachia: A Human Rights Perspective

By Megan Naylor

An Alliance for Appalachia partner organization, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and ENGAGE ( Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange) have joined together to create a new report with stories concerning human rights violations associated with the process of mountaintop removal in Floyd County,Ky.

According to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights are clearly defined as the belief that everyone deserves access to basic human needs such as: food, water, shelter, and a safe living and working environment.

It is when those needs are blatantly ignored or interfered with that human rights are violated.

The process of mountaintop removal contaminates these basic human needs as it poisons the water, land and lives of those it comes in contact with.

The Voices from Appalachia report is compiled of both a history of coal in the region and personal accounts from citizens of Floyd County.

It addresses specific instances of violations of their economic, social and cultural rights and what individuals, communities and organizations are doing to push for positive change.

The compilation is refreshing in the sense that it is aimed at making the public aware of rights which are currently being demolished in the Appalachian Mountains, while enlightening and outlining a framework for those wishing to speak out against human rights violations on both a national and global scale.

The intro to the report mentions the fact that as families in Appalachia struggle with effects of mining, thousands of individuals throughout the world face comparable situations of exploitation, whether due to mining, other large scale development projects, urban poverty, or systematic discrimination.

“To achieve the greatest possible strength organizations and individuals must reach out to one another and work together.”

According to ENGAGE “The process of creating the report fostered a stronger community identity and helped the community understand the rights they share.”

Going into the future, both KFTC and ENGAGE will determine the best ways to apply the messages and lessons of the report in community outreach and educational and legislative settings.

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