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Jolie-Pitt Foundation Donates $1m To Human Rights Watch

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And the giving just continues…

Adding to the $2 million that they gave last week to the Global Heath Committee for a  new children’s medical center in Ethiopia, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation announced a new $1 million donation today to Human Rights Watch. The organization, which is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world, will use the money to fund research and advocacy in Burma and Zimbabwe.

This charitable donation is not surprising, as Brad Pitt holds great admiration for the organization. Last weekend, the actor wrote an article for the current issue of Vanity Fair on the director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth. Here’s a bit from that essay,

“Because he directs the hardest-hitting and most fearless human-rights organization in the world, Human Rights Watch. Because his name sends a chill down the spine of human-rights abusers, making them think twice about the potential cost of their repression. Human Rights Watch turns 30 this year, and if its first 15 years established the New York–based group as a stinging critic of abusive governments on the left and the right, its second 15 years, under the deft command of Kenneth Roth, has seen Human Rights Watch go global. Roth, a former federal prosecutor, has quintupled the organization’s size and greatly expanded its impact. Funded entirely by private donations, it operates in some 80 countries, including the darkest and most oppressed.”

Great to see more cash injected into this incredible organization. To learn more about HRW, jump here.

Full Release

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will give $1 million to fund Human Rights Watch’s work in Burma and Zimbabwe, Human Rights Watch said today. Their generous gift will allow Human Rights Watch, which accepts no government funding, to continue documenting and exposing horrifying abuses in both countries to bring pressure for change. “Burma and Zimbabwe are two of the most repressive countries in the world and we need to increase international pressure on them to change,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Brad and Angelina’s investment in our work at this critical moment will allow intensified efforts by our researchers to expose the repression that these governments try to keep hidden and by our advocates to generate the global pressure needed to improve people’s lives.”

The Jolie-Pitt Foundation grant will be used to fund research and advocacy in Burma and Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch has worked for 15 years on Burma and for 10 years on Zimbabwe.

Human Rights Watch researchers have documented systematic abuses committed by Burma’s authoritarian military government as it clings to power, including the brutal crackdown on democracy protests in September 2007and the sham referendum conducted in the wake of the devastating Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. Burma recruits thousands of child soldiers as young as 10 denies the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons, and still uses landmines, a weapon banned by most of the rest of the world. The government persecutes ethnic minorities and it plunders Burma’s vast resources, earning billions from sales of petroleum, timber, and gems, and enjoying cozy relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.relations with governments and companies eager to exploit its natural wealth, while its population suffers in poverty and oppression.

Burma’s military government has announced parliamentary elections for 2010 aimed at keeping the military in power. Governments such as China and Thailand have welcomed the elections as a sign of progress, despite rules that exclude many government opponents from running or even voting. Human Rights Watch has long called for a return to civilian rule and a genuine political dialogue that includes Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, her National League for Democracy (which won Burma’s last elections in 1990 but were not allowed to form a government by Burma’s military), and Burma’s many ethnic groups.

Human Rights Watch said it will continue to expose government abuses and the lack of basic freedoms, including the right to participate in free and fair elections, while pressing the international community to take a tougher line with this repressive and duplicitous military government.

Zimbabwe’s people have long suffered severe abuses under the brutal government of Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party. In March 2008 Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a first round of presidential elections despite efforts by Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party to rig the vote through violence and intimidation. Since then, Human Rights Watch has documented the killing of 150 opposition party supporters and the abduction, beating, and torture of thousands by ruling party allies. Huge numbers of Zimbabweans have very little access to food due to the government’s obstruction of food aid, and the economic and political crises have caused 1.5 million Zimbabweans to stream across the border into South Africa.

Zimbabwe is on the brink of complete collapse but a power-sharing deal agreed on September 15, 2008, with the MDC could bring some change if implemented and if the Mugabe government immediately ends its crimes. Human Rights Watch researchers will continue to investigate human rights abuses and press for prosecution of responsible officials, the.release of political prisoners, the dismantling of torture camps and unrestricted access for humanitarian agencies to all those in need.

Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization that conducts rigorous, in-depth investigations of human rights abuses and strategic, targeted advocacy to build intense pressure for action and to raise the cost of such abuse. Human Rights Watch is funded by private donations and does not accept any government funds, directly or indirectly. Pitt and Jolie join the many generous individuals and foundations who make Human Rights Watch’s work possible.

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