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Survivor Connect's Phone for Freedom Campaign & Amnesty Intl's Call to Action

From: julie
Sent on: Saturday, April 24, 2010 12:35 PM
Hello All,

Here are two related releases regarding slavery free cell phone usage. The first is recycling program developed by Survivor Connect called Phones4Freedom Campaign to encourage people to donate their old cell phones to support the building of mobile-based networks around the world to combat human trafficking. The second release is from Amnesty International and asks you to fill out and sign an online letter to your Representative in support of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, which would make it easier to identify imports into the US. Please take a moment to read these two articles which gives you two simple ways to support our cause. A positive and useful way to dispose of your old cell phones and a possibility to finally break the cycle of weapons freely flowing in to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and conflict minerals irresponsibly being mined out. Act today!

Launch: Phones4Freedom Campaign ? Help End Slavery one SMS at a Time.
Fair Oaks, CA: Survivors Connect is launching the Phones4Freedom Campaign to encourage people to donate their old cell phones to support the building of mobile-based networks around the world to combat human trafficking. Vulnerable communities and victims will be able to get human rights information delivered regularly to mobile phones by text at no charge under this innovative program launched by Survivors Connect. Additionally, mobile phones will support the growth of anti-trafficking networks, consisting of social service providers, legal advocates, law enforcement, local agencies and others who act as first responders to anti-trafficking.
The new program called Helpline SMS is a mobile information service that provides timely information to citizens about migration safety, latest trafficking cases and other safety information. The service sends important tips and acts as a helpline that citizens can text to ask questions and get additional information.
The Helpline SMS Network program has been designed by Survivors Connect, an organization working to build support and advocacy networks of survivors and activists using social media and connective technologies. Survivors Connect is currently working to build these types of networks in Vietnam, Nepal, California (USA) and Haiti.
The goal of Survivors Connect and their Helpline SMS program is to raise awareness about the issue of slavery and to provide a safe and easy space to contact a reliable source of information that is both discrete and cost effective. Organizers at Survivors Connect stated, ?In a generation where the use of mobile phones is skyrocketing (in both the developed and developing world), we find that SMS text messaging is popular in use. Texting is fast, discrete, silent, and is very cheap. Using all of these positive traits of SMS, we are delivering information and services to potential victims much efficiently and effectively?
Human trafficking is a growing criminal industry. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there are 12.8 million trafficking victims worldwide and others estimate 27 million slaves total globally. According to the US State Department, trafficking is also a great problem at home, where an estimated 14-17,000 are trafficked to the US each year.
Survivors Connect designs various modules in partnership with grassroots anti-trafficking organizations around the world. No networks are alike, In Nepal, our SMS networks are actually small groups which we call Community Intervention Teams that survey and investigate cases of trafficking, and use SMS to report hotspots to law enforcement. In places like Haiti and the US, we?re designing SMS-based helpline programs to deliver information and do referrals for cases?
The Phones4Freedom Campaign is a partnership between wireless recycling company The WirelessSource and Survivors Connect. By visiting www.phones4freedom.org, one can print out a prepaid shipping label and donate their old phone to the WirelessSource. The WirelessSource can also recycle other used electronics such as mp3 players, computers and more. The WirelessSource will give Survivors Connect credits to purchase back phones in bulk and other equipment needed to build these networks.
Survivors Connect was founded in Fall 2009 to enhance and empower the anti-slavery movement through the use of connective technologies. Survivors Connect is a 501c3 fiscally sponsored non-profit organization, entirely volunteer led and 100% donor supported. Phones4Freedom is encouraging phone collection drives at schools, local businesses, churches and more. For ideas on how to fundraise and support the project, please visit www.survivorsconnect.org and www.phones4freedom.org.


FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL:

A small window of opportunity just opened this week that could finally break the cycle of weapons freely flowing in to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and conflict minerals irresponsibly being mined out.

Right now, the House of Representatives is weighing a piece of legislation that would make it easier to identify imports into the United States that contain minerals such as coltan, cassiterite, wolframite - commonly found in cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices - used to fund the activities of armed groups operating in the DRC.

If Congress required companies to disclose the origins of the minerals used in their products, then we, as consumers, could be assured that the electronics and products we purchase do not directly finance conflict or fuel human rights abuses.

We?ve been told that if Representatives don?t hear from constituents on this issue in a big way by the end of this week, then they are likely to put this issue on the back burner until next year when the new Congress is seated.

Don't let this rare opportunity slip right through their fingertips. Send an email to your Representatives right now and urge them to co-sponsor the Conflict Minerals Trade Act.

The link between the raging violence in eastern Congo (often referred to as the center of Africa's "World War") and the complex multimillion-dollar trade in conflict minerals is undeniable. A recent report by the UN found that armed groups in eastern DRC continue to control and profit from the extraction and trade of these minerals.1

If passed, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act would go a long way in regulating this industry and ultimately restricting the ability of armed groups to benefit from conflict minerals.

Representatives can ensure that critical protections like these are enacted to help promote peace and security in the DRC:
?Improving standards for transparency and accountability from companies involved in the extraction and trade of these minerals
?Mapping the mines currently under control by armed groups
?Providing support for further investigations by the UN Group of Experts

We must do our part to let Congress know that we care about where these resources come from.

Help us break this cycle of violence. Tell your Representative to do everything possible to stop mining that fuels human rights abuses in the DRC.

Please follow the link and take action today:
http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&aid=13740&ICID=S1004A02&tr=y&auid=6239773

Thank you for taking action,

Scott Edwards
Director, International Advocacy (Africa)
Amnesty International USA



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