Nonviolent Action around the World – 1 May 2009 (Part 1)


African democracy – ‘the genie is out of the bottle’
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, April 30, 2009
“Democracy is a process, not an event,” Ambassador Johnnie Carson, nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week. The Obama administration will “work in partnership with African governments and civil society organizations to strengthen their democratic institutions and to protect the democratic gains they have made.”
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Kenya: Abstinence as a tool of nonviolence
By: Africa News, April 30, 2009
Men in Kenya are in for trouble as women’s activist groups in that country have slapped them with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government. The campaigners are asking the wives of the Kenyan president and the prime minister to join in the embargo. They say they want to avoid a repeat of the violence which convulsed the country after the late-2007 elections.
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Zimbabwe must improve human rights to get new aid, says watchdog
By: Mail & Guardian Online, April 29, 2009
Donors should not resume development aid to Zimbabwe until the power-sharing government ends human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday.  “Humanitarian aid that focuses on the needs of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable should continue,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at the United States-based group.
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Rubber stamping the future of Chile’s rivers
By: Benjamin Witte, Toward Freedom, April 28, 2009
Alejandro Koehler showed up at the Regiona; Environmental Commission (COREMA) office in Valdivia last October convinced he had the legal arguments in hand to block a large-scale dam project planned for the nearby San Pedro River. He was wrong. Soon after presenting his case before the regional environmental authority, the then mayor of Panguipulli found himself – along with 20 other critics of the project – being dragged out of the government office by riot gear-clad Carabineros. By the time Koehler was released from police custody eights hours later, the deal was done. COREMA, by a vote of 16-1, had given Chilean energy company Colbún a green light to build Region XIV’s first large-scale hydroelectric dam.
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Africa: Constitution-building vs coup-making
By: Winluck Wahiu and Paulos Tesfagiorgis, openDemocracy, April 28, 2009
The experience of creating new constitutions in Africa promises a transformation in the continent’s landscape of governance that will render coups obsolete.
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Zimbabwe: Upadate on three WOZA court appearances
By: SW Radio Africa, April 28, 2009
Eight WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) members and two lawyers appeared in Harare Magistrate’s Court today, 28th April. Although due to appear on trial, the State did not have its house in order for the trial to proceed so the magistrate removed the activists off remand.
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Argentina: Water is worth more than gold!
By: Fionuala Cregan, Upside Down World, April 30, 2009
Gathering in the Province of San Juan, the heart of the Argentinean mining industry, representatives of the Union of Citizens Assemblies reaffirmed their commitment to fighting an economic model which is plundering natural resources and destroying livelihoods.
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US: 1934 General Strike laid base for counterculture
By: Fred Glass, The San Francisco Chronicle, April 29, 2009
These days, when San Franciscans of a certain age respond to the visitors’ (or their grandchildren’s) query, “What made San Francisco different?” they tend to think culture. Beat poets, flower power and Castro Street are instantly recognizable tropes reflecting the city’s historically tolerant attitudes and liberal politics. Although one might argue that the city’s identification with things progressive arrived with the Gold Rush, its modern incarnation took form 75 years ago in an event now fading from living memory: the great San Francisco General Strike.
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Venezuela: Hugo Chávez opponent warns of power grab
By: Christopher Toothaker, The Miami Herald, April 29, 2009
Henrique Capriles defeated an ally of President Hugo Chávez last year to become governor of Venezuela’s second-most populous state, but he says he would no longer be its highest authority if ruling party lawmakers get their way. Capriles said in an interview Tuesday that a draft bill pending in the National Assembly would dramatically erode his authority — along with that of other elected officials — by subordinating state governors to regional ”vice presidents” appointed by Chávez.
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Dominican Republic: One killed, 20 arrested in protests
By: Latin American Herald Tribune, April 28, 2009
A man was killed by gunfire, two people were wounded and about 20 were arrested during protests in connection with a general strike to demand more government-funded social projects in the northeastern city of San Francisco de Macoris.
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Canada: Agitation through art
By: Anita Krajnc, Rabble, April 28, 2009
Social change printmaker and media artist Favianna Rodriguez opened Toronto’s 24th annual Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts.  Rodriguez’s exhibition Transformation/Agitation runs through June 6 at the Toronto Free Gallery, 1277 Bloor Street West. Rodriguez uses high-contrast, warm colours and vivid figures in her composites for social justice campaigns.
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Argentina priests in drug protest
By: Candace Piette, BBC News, April 28, 2009
Hundreds of priests in Argentina have highlighted their concern after two of their number received death threats. Some 353 Catholic priests in Buenos Aires signed a document in support of the men, who work with addicts in some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.
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Ecuador: High stakes in case against Chevron
By: Juan Forero, Washington Post, April 28, 2009
Deep in the northern Ecuadoran rain forest, next to pits filled with noxious sludge, a lawyer on his very first case argued that a U.S. oil company had deliberately fouled a swath of jungle nearly the size of Delaware during two decades of production.
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US: Survivors say ‘never again’ to genocide

By: OneWorld, April 28, 2009
Eight survivors of genocide — from Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Poland, Rwanda, and Sudan — gathered recently in Washington, DC to remember past tragedies and push for an end to the Darfur crisis. “It is not time to talk. It is not time to stand by. It is time to act,” said Joseph Sebarenzi, a Rwandan genocide survivor, speaking outside of the White House.
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US Video: Major protest planned against Arizona sheriff
By: Democracy Now!, April 27, 2009
A major protest is planned against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s been accused of practicing discriminatory enforcement of federal immigration laws. Last month, the Justice Department opened a civil rights probe into Arpaio’s immigration enforcement policies. We speak with an Arizona reporter who just won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the controversial sheriff, as well as a public defender who has been at the forefront of immigrant rights for over thirty years.
Watch video…
US: Dr. Ahmed Shaheed to receive prestigious CSID’s “Muslim Democrat of the Year” award
By: Faisal Kutty, April 27, 2009
The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) announced today that Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Maldives will receive its prestigious Annual “Muslim Democrat of the Year” award on May 5th. Dr. Shaheed will give a keynote speech during lunchtime at the 10th Annual Conference of CSID, to be held at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, in Arlington, Virginia, and will receive the award during the banquet dinner.
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El Salvador: LGBT movement continues the fight for human rights and dignity
By: Alexandria Soleil and Maggie Von Vogt, The Narcosphere, April 26, 2009
On April 20, 2009, various organizations and individuals from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community of El Salvador rallied in front of the Legislative Assembly to protest an unwarranted attack on their civil rights. Legislative Assembly Deputy Rodolfo Parker has reignited efforts to pass an amendment that would specify that marriage only be between a man and a woman and deny same sex couples the right to adopt a child. Activists from various NGOs and LGBT networks joined to demonstrate their presence and present a counter-amendment that would expand constitutional rights in the country rather than deny them.
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Argentina: Tiles on sidewalks honor dictatorship victims
By: Latin American Herald Tribune, April 25, 2009
Retracing the steps of those who went missing during Argentina’s last military dictatorship is now possible thanks to the efforts of a Buenos Aires grassroots movement, which has been laying commemorative tiles on the capital’s streets and sidewalks in memory of the victims of state repression.
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Forging Tibetans’ future
By: Temtsel Hao, openDemocracy, April 29, 2009
The attitude of the authorities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibetans is reminiscent of the response of Joseph Stalin when the Soviet dictator was advised to avoid conflict with the Catholic church: “How many divisions does the pope have?”
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Burma: Solo demonstrator sentenced to one year
By: Aye Nai, Democratic Voice of Burma, April 29, 2009
A tutor who was arrested in March for staging a solo demonstration calling for the release of political prisoners has been sentenced to a year in prison.  Aung Pe was arrested on National Armed Forces day (also known as Resistance Day) on 27 March this year after protesting near the opposition party National League for Democracy’s office in Twante township, Rangoon.
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Burma: NLD sets pre-conditions for role in elections
By: Mizzima, April 29, 2009
Burma’s main opposition party – the National League for Democracy – on Wednesday said it was willing to contest the forthcoming 2010 elections if the military regime releases political prisoners, and makes proper amendments to its Constitution.
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Arrested Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to receive prestigious award
By: Jane Macartney, Times Online, April 28, 2009
One of the world’s most prestigious literary awards will be bestowed today on Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident and writer. But the man himself will spend the day in a windowless cell, unaware of the honour. The 54-year-old writer has been in detention since December 8, when police took him from his home for questioning for his role as author of the Charter 08 appeal, made public on the same day, which calls for freedom of speech and democratic reforms in China. Mr Liu is to receive the 2009 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.
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China: A citizen campaign to reveal the forgotten dead
By: Bob Chen, Global Voices, April 28, 2009
In his blog, Li Peifeng recalled his encounter with the police in Si-chuan. No smuggling, no robbery, all he was doing is simple – he was volunteering. But his story is no less exciting and hair-raising than any thriller. He was chased by Chinese police.
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Afghanistan: Corruption is the mother of insurgency
By: Joshua Kucera, Eurasianet, April 28, 2009
While Afghanistan’s incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, has sought to put a little distance between himself and the United States in recent months, one of his leading challengers in the upcoming presidential vote, Ashraf Ghani, thinks the best way to combat the Taliban insurgency is for Kabul to strengthen ties with Washington and to focus on economic development. While the three well known threats to Afghanistan’s stability are al Qaeda, the local insurgency and drug trafficking, those threats are abetted by the poor performance of Afghanistan’s Karzai administration, he said.
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Justice denied for Tibetans
By: The Wall Street Journal Asia, April 27, 2009
Before dawn on the morning of May 18, 2008, the authorities cut off all forms of communications in the small rural town — telephones, mobile phones, the Internet and even roads in and around the area. At around 6 a.m., more than 1,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army, People’s Armed Police and local and special police units prepared to make their assault on a small house. Around the same time, more than 4,000 soldiers and police divided up to surround and take control of two nearby nunneries. Their target? Buramna Rinpoche, a 52-year-old Living Buddha and head of Pangri and Yatseg nunneries in Kardze, a Tibetan county of Sichuan province.
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Tibet: Jail sentences condemned
By: Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, April 27, 2009
Tibet’s Government in exile has strongly condemned the latest harsh sentences being handed down by Chinese court on three young Tibetan girls in Lhasa over anti-China protests in Tibet last year [2008]. Chinese court in Tibet has sentenced a Tibetan girl to death with a two-year reprieve and two others to long jail terms for their alleged roles during the March 2008 unrest in Lhasa. Tibetan Government-in-exile, in a statement posted on its official website, said the sentences were arbitrarily meted out without open and fair trial.
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Leading Chinese dissident claims freedom of speech worse than before Olympics
By: Peter Foster, Telegraph, April 27, 2009
He Weifang, a celebrated law professor and lead signatory to last year’s Charter 08 petition calling for democratic reforms in China, said the ruling Communist Party was currently engaged in a fresh wave of repressive internet and media censorship. Even allowing for the Communist party’s highly conservative approach to any kind of reform – embodied in Deng Xiaoping’s famous phrase “Crossing the river by feeling for stones” – he said China was moving backwards on basic freedoms.
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India: Tribes stage mass protest against British mining company Vedanta
By: Survival International, April 25, 2009
Several hundred tribespeople today staged a protest against FTSE-100 company Vedanta, as it bids massively to expand its controversial aluminium refinery in Lanjigarh, Orissa.
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