Letter from the Directors

Usually we begin this letter with a statement like, “This was the best year ever!” But 2006 followed an historic year for ERI and indeed, if major proclamations are what you’re looking for, 2005 was a tough act to follow. Given that our momentous victory over Unocal came in our 10th anniversary year, we spent much of 2006 answering the inevitable question: “So, what’s your next big thing?”

Of course, ERI does not measure the importance of its work by the headlines it makes. We often avoid the spotlight to insure the integrity of our information, the safety of our staff, and the security of our students. Thus, in 2006, ERI’s investigative missions to the Peruvian Amazon, the inaugural session of the Mekong EarthRights School, and our 9th graduation ceremony at the Burma EarthRights School happened with little public fanfare.

Of course, we didn’t avoid the limelight altogether. We were thrilled when H.E. Václav Havel gave Milena Kaneva’s documentary about Doe v. Unocal his 2006 Special Award for Human Rights. We attended and organized worldwide screenings of Total Denial, firm in the belief that the force of our legal work to protect human rights and the environment is diminished if we don’t change the attitudes that allow abuses to occur. We were proud that our work to encourage corporate accountability made steady progress in U.S. courts, which remain the primary forums offering a shot at justice for corporate complicity in torture, killing and slavery. Yet the fact remains that the U.S. is also a nation that has failed to demand accountability for travesties of justice such as those in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Likewise, Burma, Thailand, and other countries where we work, remain under oppressive and military regimes.

We still have a lot of work to do.

Whether it’s changing laws, transforming attitudes, or supporting new earth rights defenders, everything we do at ERI is a “big thing.” It’s a long road, and we couldn’t do it without your support.

Ka Hsaw Wa, Chana Maung, Katie Redford