It is 15 years since that most dramatic gathering in Osasco, Brazil where asbestos workers and their families as well as asbestos activists, concerned government members, asbestos researchers and care givers came to share their life experiences. Participants from at least 30 different countries shared unbelievable stories of pain and suffering inflicted on workers and their families by international and local asbestos companies. These companies, often supported by governments, as was the case in apartheid South Africa, valued profit above basic human rights and above the equality of all human beings by treating the health and safety as well as the compensation of workers in developing countries to be of lesser importance. Amazingly, through a spirit of common humanity and in support of international solidarity people from developed and developing countries came together to enable access to social justice for asbestos exposed workers and communities.
For us in South Africa it was most uplifting to be hosted so graciously by the people of Brazil. Under the capable leadership and coordination of Fernanda Giannasi from Brazil and Laurie Kazan Allen from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat the participation of several South Africans in this first global asbestos event in Brazil was made possible. For South Africans, just about six years into our change from the cruel divisions of apartheid, it was a glimpse of the possibilities of a constitutional democracy to help redress the crippling inequalities and divisions of the past. Those affected by asbestos from different countries could share their life stories and hopes for a better world for their children. Read more