EarthRights Urges a Peaceful Transition of Power
Statement of EarthRights Executive Director Ka Hsaw Wa
November 7, 2020–Washington, D.C. — ”With multiple news outlets confirming that Joe Biden has won a clear victory in the popular vote and the electoral college, we offer our congratulations to President-elect Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. We urge Donald Trump to respect democracy and support a peaceful transition of power by not inciting violence or making unfounded claims to undermine the election’s legitimacy.
“We implore the new government to reverse policies of the Trump administration that undermine human rights and environmental protection in the United States and around the world. President-elect Biden’s first act in office should be to re-enter the Paris Agreement critical to averting catastrophic climate change. The new administration should also work to restore the United States’ credibility by working to protect human rights defenders.
“The right to protest injustice has also come under threat by the government, and we urge Biden and Harris to enact and support policies that uphold our First Amendment rights to free speech and to protest. They must prioritize people over corporate profits; protect lands, the environment, and those who defend them; and reverse our rapidly accelerating climate crisis.
“As a non-partisan organization, EarthRights does not endorse political candidates but we do stand for free speech and protecting the rights of communities facing exploitation at the hands of extractive industries. In recent years, we have seen the U.S. government take many acts to benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of people and the environment. Radical, pro-corporate interests laid the groundwork for these policies decades ago when they created the framework to transfer power and wealth from the people to a small cadre of private interests, eroding our government’s ability to serve the public.
“We cannot ignore the path that brought us to this moment, nor can we ignore the centuries of systemic racism and white supremacy that generated the severe racial tension pervasive within our society. Regardless of who is President, we still have a lot of work to do. EarthRights will continue to forge a world where catastrophic climate change is averted; corporations and governments respect human rights; and earth rights defenders can freely carry out their work without fear of criminalization, harassment, or violence.
“This weekend, my home country of Myanmar (Burma), where I participated in the student uprisings of the late 1980s, will hold its own elections. Democracy in Myanmar is still fragile, and any efforts to undermine elections in the United States will embolden authoritarian interests there and in many other countries. Leaders and citizens in the United States need to reaffirm their commitment to this country’s basic founding idea: a nation governed by laws, with leaders chosen through a democratic process, and peaceful transitions of power.”