Stories written by Kerry Kennedy
Kerry Kennedy, an author and human rights activist, is the founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights.

In Bangladesh, a Steady Pursuit of Freedom

Visiting Bangladesh has been a lifelong dream of mine, but all that I had heard about a people who love freedom so much that they have withstood great armies, famine and intractable poverty could not prepare me for what I’ve seen in the last three days.  

OP-ED: Bullying, Leadership and the Presidency of the United States

The 1965 bullying incident at Michigan's elite Cranbrook School that came to light this week has kicked off a series of conversations about bullying and about the extent to which we should hold our nation's leaders accountable for past behaviour.

OP-ED: Nobel Laureates and Students Discuss Role of Women in Human Rights

Last week, in a lecture hall at the University of Illinois Chicago, 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi took a reality many of us working in human rights know well, and drove it home with a story from her own nation, a land her government says she is no longer allowed to call home.

OP-ED: Nobel Laureates and Students Defending Human Rights, One Step at a Time

I spent Monday morning in the library of Chicago's Lincoln Park High School, listening to students talk about what the word "hero" means to them. This wasn't any normal school day - in a few moments they would meet Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the father of micro-lending and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

OP-ED: Get Your Boot Off My Neck

Last weekend, my 14-year-old daughter, Michaela, and I were en route to Easter Sunday mass in Acapulco. We were stopped, harassed, threatened, and detained by eight soldiers in battle fatigues brandishing automatic weapons.

Female Genital Mutilation: Stop it!

"Are you crazy, Fauziya?" Cecilia asked. "You want to go back to Togo?”

OP-ED: To Break the Bonds of Injustice

Forty-six years ago, at a Senate subcommittee hearing on migratory labour, U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy listened in disgust as California's Kern County Sheriff explained the arrests of peaceful picketers brought on by mounting pressure from farm owners.

Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai with then U.S. senator Barack Obama in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006. Credit: Frederick Onyango/creative commons

OP-ED: Wangari Maathai: A ‘Mighty Woman’ Who Spoke Truth to Power

Last night, Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, died. Most people think of Ms. Maathai as an environmentalist, planting trees. In reality, her environmental activism was part of a holistic approach to empowering women, advocating for democracy, and protecting the earth.

OP-ED: The Missing Truth in the BP Oil Disaster

More than a year after a private company operating in public waters retched 170 million gallons of crude and two million gallons of toxic dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico, creating an environmental catastrophe, we still lack reliable statistics on the BP oil disaster's impact on the health of residents.

OP-ED: Seeking Justice in Mexico, and the Legacy of Robert Kennedy

On this day, 43 years ago, in the midst of a national struggle to make real the promises of justice and equality, we lost Robert F. Kennedy. Today, we honour his legacy when we stand with heroes who are devoted to the pursuit of justice and put their own lives on the line for others.


Recently, I joined some of our nationÂ's heroes walking the trail of the civil rights movement in Alabama. No one has done more to stop hate groups in the United States over the past three decades than Morris Dees through the Southern Poverty Law Center. Morris pioneered the strategy of holding hate groups accountable through civil suits awarding damages so expensive that the defendants are forced into bankruptcy and closed. Over thirty people have gone to prison for plots to assassinate him.


Haiti's January 2010 earthquake left more than 230,000 dead, 300,000-plus injured, 1.5 million homeless and physically leveled 28 of 29 government ministries. In response, the international community pledged 5.5 billion dollars in aid to rebuild Haiti. Today, only 10 percent of the promised funding has reached its shores.


Within the next few days, the World Bank Board and International Monetary Fund Board of Directors will decide whether to forgive a significant portion of the "odious" debt of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) accumulated to a large degree during the autocratic and kleptocratic regime of President Mobutu. Bilateral donors owed significant sums will probably follow suit.


When Gulf Coast resident Louise Bosarge heard President Obama refer to her community as "resilient," her response was poetic: "We bounce back. We always bounce back. Bouncing hurts."

 - Claudius

Chevron and Cultural Genocide in Ecuador

The disaster caused by Chevron/Texaco in the jungles of Ecuador is not a sentimental environmental cause, it is a matter of human rights, asserts Kerry Kennedy in this column.


It was deeply moving to see crowds lining the streets from Hyannis Port to Boston, from the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to Hanscom Field, and from Andrews Air Force Base to Arlington Cemetery, -often ten deep- holding placards, waving American flags, saluting; each with her or his own story of being touched by Senator Edward KennedyÂ's vision, spirit and love. People came because they appreciated his courageous stances on international human rights, civil rights, health care, minimum wage, support in multiple forms for the oppressed and dispossessed. And mostly because they knew he loved people--not the people, but actual, living, breathing human beings.


McDonald\'s set a resounding example by agreeing to abide by the international human rights principles laid out by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), writes Kerry Kennedy, author and human rights activist, and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights. In this article, Kennedy writes that now it is time for Burger King, Subway, Walmart and others in the retail food industry to acknowledge their responsibilities and partner with the farmworkers, the victims of institutionalised human rights abuse. As Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez taught us all in America\'s first farmworkers movements, human rights enforcement cannot be left to governments and law enforcement alone. Human rights are held by all persons equally, universally, and forever. Corporations must realise these rights are indivisible and interdependent. Without these rights, slavery, poverty, and abuse will continue to taint America\'s retail food industry.


Because Argentina is currently a member of the UN Security Council and has experienced the trauma caused by a military dictatorship, there is hope that it will back an immediate and binding Security Council resolution on Burma, writes Kerry Kennedy, author of \"Speak Truth to Power\" and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights. In this article, Kennedy writes that last year during a trip to the Navy Mechanics School in Buenos Aires, which was a prison and centre for torture during the military dictatorship, she heard government officials, survivors, and mothers of the disappeared testify how their capacity to survive often depended on their faith that they were not alone, that people on the outside cared. The author, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, argues that just as current Argentinean leaders testified that international solidarity was crucial to their fight against the military regime, so the support of Argentina and the international community is crucial now to Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma. For the first time the Security Council is considering a resolution to charge Burma\'s military dictatorship with grave human rights violations since it took power in 1990. The poem by Ariel Dorfman, renowned Chilean author and playwright who was born in Argentina, which follows this article, can be published together or separately.


As international leaders gathered at the United Nations in the middle of September to address plans to eradicate global poverty, the Bush administration notified Congress that it will withhold the U.S. contribution ($34 million) to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the fourth consecutive year, writes Kerry Kennedy, founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights. This aid provides vital services for the world\'s poorest women and girls, so why would the U.S. fail to help? Because, despite the U.S. State Department claims to the contrary, the administration asserts that the fund supports China\'s forced sterilization policy. The truth is, in order to change that policy, Washington should support the population fund, not cripple it. The U.S. government can leverage change. This is hard, because China is an important trading partner and increasingly holds more of the U.S. debt. So we also need to engage the international community. I take a back seat to no one in my horror at China\'s abuses in its one-child policy. To end them, we must support many efforts, and that includes the United Nations Population Fund. Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust, said the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. We must no longer be indifferent to what is going on in China.


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