• What is Advocacy?

    Posted by Micah

    13 January, 2011

    Advocay is something that happens at a grassroots level all over the world. Here's a story from Cambodia.

    In the book Daughter of the Killing Fields, Theary Seng tells the horrifying story of her
    family's flight from Pol Pot's Cambodia. The book includes an account of her great Aunt and Uncle's unsuccessful attempt to enter Thailand. Having reached the Thai-Cambodia
    border, Aunt Nan and Uncle An are part of a group of refugees met by Thai soldiers
    who are determined to force them back. At gunpoint group is herded to the top of a
    mountain and told to start heading down into Cambodian territory. The valley floor is
    riddled with landmines. From atop the mountain An and Nan hear the thunder of
    exploding landmines when refugees sent back before them step on the buried
    deathtraps. One family refuse to move. The father is shot through the head, and when
    the rest of the family start to run, they too are mown down by bullets. With the stench
    of death and fear around them, An and Nan reluctantly accept their fate. They head
    toward the valley floor, treading over the corpses of those who have gone before,
    knowing that the mines in those places have already been detonated. Miraculously
    they make it through alive.

    Tens of thousands of Cambodians died in this way. The practise only ended, Theary Sen
    reports, when the international community became aware of the situation and
    pressured the Thai Government to stop it. Without this pressure thousands more
    would have been killed.

    This is an example of advocacy at work.

    Advocacy is nothing more and nothing less than the act of influencing the powerful
    to act in ways that benefit the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed.

    This article originally appeared in 'An Introduction to Advocacy' found on the Catalyst website.