Nonviolent Action around the World – 22 May 2009 (Part 1)


Zimbabwe PM says foreign reporters allowed
By: Stuff NZ, May 22, 2009
Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Thursday that foreign journalists are free to report in the troubled southern African nation where many have previously been banned and others arrested and harassed. The veteran opposition leader who formed a coalition with longtime President Robert Mugabe in February said continuing violations of the power-sharing deal threaten the unity government, but insisted that progress has been made.
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Confusion over Malawi vote count
By: BBC News, May 21, 2009
One of Malawi’s opposition leaders has accepted that President Bingu wa Mutharika won Tuesday’s elections but another has claimed widespread rigging. Ex-President Bakili Muluzi has telephoned Mr Mutharika, with whom he has fought a bitter feud in recent years, to offer his congratulations. But Mr Muluzi’s ally and main opposition presidential candidate John Tembo claims there was election fraud.
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Botswana: Government renews assault on Bushmen
By: Survival International, May 20, 2009
Botswana’s government sent trucks full of police and wildlife scouts into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) yesterday to confiscate goats from Bushmen who have returned to their ancestral homes. The Attorney General had promised the Bushmen that they could take their goats back to their homes in the reserve, but officials have targeted the Bushmen’s small herds, apparently concerned that they do not fit in with the image of the CKGR they wish to promote.
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Malawi: Radio shut down and staff arrested for election coverage
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 20, 2009
Reporters Without Borders expressed its concern after the closure yesterday of privately owned opposition Joy Radio and the arrest of four staff, two of them journalists, accused of breaking election rules. The director of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), James Chimera, ruled that satirical programme, Chilungamo Chili Kuti? (Is there any justice?), broadcast at 2am after the closure of the official election campaign, had violated the law banning endorsement or ridicule of a candidate.
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Zimbabwe: Rights lawyers and WOZA activists appear in court
By: Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, May 19, 2009
Two human rights lawyers, Tawanda Zhuwarara and Rose Hanzi, appeared in court Tuesday to stand trial for allegedly participating in a demonstration organized by the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). Hanzi told SW Radio Africa that she was arraigned before the courts, together with her colleague and eight WOZA activists. They were arrested on 10th February and charged under the Criminal Law Act for participating in an illegal gathering that was bent on breaching the peace.
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Zimbabwe: Lawyers march in protest over harassment
By: The Zimbabwe Times, May 19, 2009
Zimbabwean lawyers on Tuesday defied a police ban and marched through the streets of Harare to protest against government’s alleged harassment of lawyers and journalists. The march was staged around lunch time in central Harare. The lawyers had earlier met in a hotel where a decision was taken to defy a police directive to ban the march.
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In Central African Republic you pay for justice
By: Human Rights Tribune, May 19, 2009
“There are no exceptions, everyone has to pay [money] for justice in this country,” the senior police officer tells us flatly. Our bag has been stolen from the boot of our taxi en route to Bangui airport. Our passports and money are gone, but just to get the police to register the crime, we’re being asked to hand over the 10,000 CFA francs, or 20 US dollars.
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Nigeria: Shell on trial – After 13 years, justice for Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni?
By: Han Shan, Huffington Post, May 19, 2009
In 1990, a popular nonviolent movement for human rights and environmental justice burst forth from the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People — ‘MOSOP’ — demanded an end to the exploitation and degradation of the Ogoni land and people by the Nigerian dictatorship in partnership with the multinational oil companies, particularly Anglo-Dutch giant Royal Dutch Shell.
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Liberia: Rural women confront hunger gap, their own way
By: Rebecca Murray, IPS, May 15, 2009
Three women walk slowly, each carrying snail shells filled with indigenous rice seed to bury in the rich soil. The women belong to a local cooperative, Women and Children Development Secretariat (WOCDES). Their day is spent in hard manual labour, hunched over and digging at the soil with small spades. Between them they plant three hectares of seed under a blazing tropical sun, stopping only for a staple meal of rice and cassava leaf.
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Venezuelan police raid offices of TV executive
By: Simon Romero, NY Times, May 22, 2009
Agents from the intelligence police on Thursday night raided the offices of the president of a major television network that opposes the government’s policies, marking an aggressive turn in President Hugo Chávez’s threat this month to take punitive action against one of his most vociferous critics in the media. The raid was captured by the cameras of the Globovisión network, as well as those of state television crews accompanying the agents, as they forced their way into the property of Guillermo Zuloaga in an exclusive district here.
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Protests target Peru’s UN mission in New York: Indigenous rights over US Free Trade Agreement
By: Yahoo! News, May 22, 2009
Indigenous leaders from around the world are joined by supporters in a demonstration today at 10 am outside the Peru’s Mission to the United Nations (820 2nd Ave. between 43rd and 44th), urging the Alan Garcia Government to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and repeal a series of new laws passed under the pretext of implementing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. More than a hundred indigenous leaders in traditional dress will take part in a colorful demonstration in solidarity with some 30,000 indigenous people in Peru who have been peacefully demonstrating since April 9.
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Peru’s Garcia tussles with tribes over land rights
By: Terry Wade, STV News, May 21, 2009
Peruvian President Alan Garcia’s push to lure foreign investors to the Amazon basin has run into homegrown opposition, with indigenous leaders saying he has disregarded a U.N. declaration that protects their rights to control land and natural resources. Thousands of indigenous people have protested in Peru’s Amazon for much of the past 40 days, hoping to pressure Garcia to modify or strike down a series of laws he passed last year that encourage oil, mining and agricultural companies to invest billions of dollars in the mostly pristine region.
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Mexico: National network of civil resistance against the high prices of electricity
By: SIPAZ Blog, May 21, 2009
On May 16 and 17, a meeting of organizations from 7 Mexican states took place in order to organize a National Network of Civil Resistance against the High Prices of Electricity. This meeting took place in CIDECI- University of the Earth in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, and representatives of 20 organizations attended in order to organize a united front against the privatization and high prices of electricity.
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Venezuela: Disloyalty is costly for Hugo Chávez backers
By: Phil Gunson, Miami Herald, May 21, 2009
Just six months ago, Eduardo Manuitt was governor of the Venezuelan plains state of Guárico. Now he is in hiding, after a court ordered his arrest on corruption charges. His case recalls that of Manuel Rosales, the opposition mayor of the country’s second city, Maracaibo, who sought asylum in Peru last month, alleging political persecution. But unlike Rosales, who is also accused of corruption, Manuitt was a prominent supporter of the leftist ‘revolution’ led by President Hugo Chávez.
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Anti-Chavez students protest in Venezuela
By: Fabiola Sanchez, AP, May 21, 2009
Thousands of university students marched through Venezuela’s capital on Wednesday demanding more state financial aid for public universities after President Hugo Chavez’s government reduced funding by 6 percent. The crowd – comprising thousands of students, professors and university workers – chanted anti-Chavez slogans as they marched toward Venezuela’s education ministry, where they raised their concerns with Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna.
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Guatemalan president accused of orchestrating murder
By: Ezra Fieser and Sara Miller Llana, Miami Herald, May 21, 2009
The scandal surrounding accusations that Guatemala’s president orchestrated the murder of a prominent lawyer is intensifying. Tens of thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets since a video emerged in which Rodrigo Rosenberg, the lawyer, accused Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and three others of murder and corruption. On Monday, they presented a petition to Congress signed by more than 35,000 Guatemalans that calls for Congress to strip Colom of his prosecutorial immunity.
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Ecuador: The legacy of indigenous leader Mama Tránsito
By: Milton Ramirez, Global Voices, May 19, 2009
Indigenous communities, civil rights activists, and other Ecuadorians are mourning the passing of one of its social leaders, Rosa Elena Tránsito Amaguaña. As a “Creator of a new Ecuador,” she was one of the fundamental pillars of the Ecuadorian Indigenous Movement, alongside Dolores Cacuango, also known as Mama Dulu, and the writer Nela Martínez.
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Mexico: Actions strengthen against mining in Oaxaca
By: Nancy Davies, Narco News, May 19, 2009
“Mexicans are screwed,” asserted Juan Carlos Ruiz Guadalajara of the Broad Opposition Front (Frente Amplio Opositor) of San Luis Potosi. He participated, along with representatives of other organizations, at the second forum For Life We Defend Our Mother Earth, convened in Ocotlán by the Committee for Rights of the People (CODEP), on May 16 and 17, 2009. Ruiz advised the people of Ocotlán not to rely on the non-functional Mexican law but to go for direct action. His warning to the activists of Oaxaca did not fall on deaf ears; Oaxaca has been targeted for 13 different mining projects.
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China: A turmoil triggered by t-shirt
By: Bob Chen, Global Voices, May 22, 2009
Lawyer Liu Shihui’s T-shirt, on which a quote is printed, seems to have the power to attract police and disturb the social order. Below is a partial translation of Liu’s blog entry about his experience in Guangzhou.
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Chinese tell of Tibet failures
By: John Garnaut, The Age,  May 22, 2009
Last year’s Tibetan uprising was caused by two decades of failed development policies that marginalised Tibetans and created a “new aristocracy” of corrupt and abusive government officials, Beijing scholars say. Their report describes how Beijing’s efforts to pour rivers of money into Tibet since 1989 to ensure “stability” have been spectacularly counter-productive.
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Burma: US warning fails to keep Suu Kyi trial open
By: The Age, May 22, 2009
Burma’s military junta has put the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi back behind closed doors, after allowing diplomats and journalists to attend the hearing for just one day. The regime had opened up the proceedings at Insein Prison near Rangoon on Wednesday in an apparent concession to fierce international criticism of the charges against the Nobel peace prize winner.
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Diplomats barred from Burma trial
By: BBC News, May 21, 2009
Burmese authorities have barred international observers from the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, a day after allowing them to attend. The government opened proceedings to diplomats and journalists on Wednesday, in an apparent response to criticism. But a Burmese official said that the move had been “only for one day”.
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Burma: ‘Crackling with energy’, Suu Kyi finally emerges into the light
By: Phoebe Kennedy, Independent UK, May 21, 2009
After nearly six years hidden from sight, suddenly yesterday Aung San Suu Kyi was back on public view – tranquil, composed, yet “crackling with energy.” Until yesterday Burma’s democracy leader was being tried in secret, somewhere deep inside Rangoon’s Insein prison. Then without warning or explanation, the generals threw open the doors of the court to diplomats and even a handful of (local) journalists.
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Burma junta bars media and diplomats from Aung San Suu Kyi trial again
By: Matthew Weaver, Guardian UK, May 21, 2009
Burma’s ruling military junta today went back to barring the media and diplomats from the trial of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after she appeared in public yesterday for the first time in more than a year. Suu Kyi is accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American visitor, John Yettaw, to stay at her home without permission after he swam across a lake to visit her home uninvited.
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China arrests eleven Tibetans
By: Secret Tibet, May 21, 2009
Chinese authorities arrested eleven Tibetan villagers from eastern Tibet. Among the incarcerated were Rinchen Dorjee and Choesang, who were transported to Chamdho Town on account of their alleged involvement in a serious crime. The remaining detainees were imprisoned in Jodha County for ceasing all farming efforts in the village as a show of solidarity with the peaceful protesters called ‘earth mouse and ox year’s peaceful march’ and escaping to the hills on the pretext of collecting a medicinal plant.
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Tiananmen now seems distant to China’s students
By: Sharon LaFraniere, NY Times, May 21, 2009
On April 30, the cellphones of the 32,630 students at Peking University, buzzed with a text message from the school administration. It warned students to “pay attention to your speech and behavior” on Youth Day because of a “particularly complex” situation. Most students appear to accept it. For 20 years, China’s government has made it abundantly clear that students and professors should stick to the books and stay out of the streets. Students today describe 1989 as almost a historical blip, a moment too extreme and traumatic ever to repeat.
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Tiananmen dissident calls for ‘white China’ day
By: AFP, May 21, 2009
Wang Dan, a key figure in the 1989 pro-democracy protests in China, said Thursday he hoped the nation would be “covered in white” to mark the anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown. “That means we appeal to Chinese people to wear white clothes (the colour of mourning in China) on June 4 to remember June 4, and we hope that on that day, we can witness a China covered in white,” he explained.
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Maldives: Ex-president’s son submits witness statements to court
By: Minivan News, May 21, 2009
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son, Mohamed Gassan Maumoon, submitted witness statements to High Court today to support his claim that the vote in the recent parliamentary elections had been rigged against him. Gassan, a member of the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), filed his case in court last week, appealing for the annulment of the elections result for Thaa atoll Thimarafushi constituency, where he contested.
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Maldives: HRCM calls on members to work for the benefit of the people
By: The Maldives Chronicle, May 21, 2009
The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has called on the newly elected members of the Peoples Majlis to work with government for the benefit of the people and the country. HRCM made the call in a statement issued on Tuesday. Affirming its trust in the new Majlis, HRCM said that it was confident that the new members of parliament will follow the ideals of democracy and work for the welfare of the people and the interests of the country, in making important decisions and in approving new legislature, and thereby ensure the rights and freedoms set forth in the Constitution.
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Maldives: The first free parliamentary election
By: Saffah Faroog, Global Voices, May 20, 2009
The Maldives has witnessed significant political changes in the last five years: introduction of political parties in 2005; ratification of an amended constitution in August 2008; and the first multi-party election held in October 2008 which brought a democratic government. Hence, the parliamentary election held on May 9 was crucial as the new parliament will be entrusted with the task of passing key laws that will be a milestone in the country’s transition to democracy.
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Thailand: Internet censorship to be followed by censorship of radio and TV
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 20, 2009
Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by a government announcement on 14 May that it will introduce new regulations for community radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations aimed at controlling programme content. Broadcasters would be required to seek permission for each programme being aired, the government said. “The adoption of these regulations would deal a fatal blow to free expression in Thailand, which is already heavily restricted on the Internet,” Reporters Without Borders said.
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Interview: The lost voices of Tiananmen – Part one
By: BBC World Service, May 20, 2009
James Miles has a unique insight into the way China works based on over 20 years’ experience as a correspondent there. He was an eye-witness to the events leading up to the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and saw scenes of bravery and brutality. James looks at the key trigger points that led to the Beijing Spring – a flowering of the pro-democracy movement which culminated in over a million anti-government protesters gathering in Tiananmen Square.
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China: Wrongly-jailed blogger fights for justice
By: Cai Ke, China Daily, May 20, 2009
A netizen was wrongly jailed for lying and slander after his online writings exposed an allegedly fraudulent village election. Shi Xizhao was later cleared and offered compensation and an apology after he drew attention to his plight through association with well-known blogger Wang Shuai, who has also falsely imprisoned for speaking out against the government. Shi, who was standing as a candidate for village committee head but lost out to a rival, said he has strong evidence that the poll was rigged.
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China: Yunan web moderators’ disobedient act
By: Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, May 20, 2009
In order to control online content and channel public opinion, local information ministry and propaganda department give daily instructions to webmasters and moderators of forums and portal websites to promote certain news and to delete certain posts. Recently, a number of forum moderators and webmasters from Yunnan province jointly refused to carry out the instruction issued by police department to delete a post concerning a car accident on 25th of April which resulted in 22 deaths.
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China: Eastern China authorities downplay student protest
By: Christopher Bodeen, AP, May 20, 2009
Authorities in eastern China downplayed Wednesday a reported outbreak of university unrest just weeks ahead of a highly sensitive political anniversary. Hundreds of students are reported to have protested in the streets of the eastern city of Nanjing following an incident Monday night in which government security guards enforcing restrictions on peddling allegedly attacked classmates who set up sidewalk stalls.
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China: The democracy movement since 1989
By: Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, May 19, 2009
During the last mother’s Day weekend on May 10th, a number of intellectuals in Beijing organized a seminar discussing 20 years of the democracy movement in China. This is a very significant event in breaking the long silence among intellectuals on the June 4th student movement, as well as in countering the official position on the incident as a ‘riot.’ The speeches at the conference were published online in the past few days via China in Perspective.
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China releases last Tiananmen ‘hooligan’
By: AFP, May 19, 2009
The last known prisoner incarcerated for “hooliganism” during China’s 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement has been released after nearly 20 years in jail, a US-based rights group said. But up to 30 people imprisoned as a result of the protests and the subsequent bloody crackdown remain in jail on other charges, including counter-revolutionary crimes, the Dui Hua foundation said.
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Chinese lawyers beaten in Chongqing; Colleagues protest in Beijing
By: Sophie Beach, China Digital Times, May 18, 2009
A group of lawyers gathered in Beijing for a legal seminar held a protest against the beating of two of their colleagues in Chongqing, according to this report from Ming Pao. The protesting lawyers called for an investigation into the incident and for protection of lawyers’ rights. Zhang Kai and Li Chunfu, lawyers for Beijing law firms, were investigating the suspicious death of a detainee at a facility in Chongqing on behalf of the family of the deceased.
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Interview: Can the internet bring democracy to China?
By: Jayshree Bajoria, Council on Foreign Relations, May 18, 2009
China has the largest number of Internet users in the world–300 million, or roughly the population of the United States. China’s blossoming online political dialogue, some of which includes the country’s political leaders, has prompted questions about whether the Internet could lead to a political revolution. At the same time, however, Beijing continues to employ various forms of online censorship and surveillance.
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Vietnam: Editor fired over ‘sensitive’ articles
By: Radio Free Asia, May 15, 2009
Deputy Editor in chief of Vietnam’s Du Lich (Tourism) newspaper was fired from his job on May 12 and had his press card withdrawn for writing articles critical of Chinese influence on Vietnam. Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication said Nguyen Trung Dan, 53, had published the ‘sensitive’ articles in the publication’s Lunar New Year issue earlier this year against government directives.
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China: Economist speaks out again
By: Radio Free Asia, May 12, 2009
A prominent economist from China’s mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority has called on authorities to ease curbs on free expression and foster greater economic opportunity for Uyghurs in their native Xinjiang region, where poverty and joblessness are commonplace. Ilham Tohti, an economics professor at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, said he was interrogated repeatedly and accused of separatism after he spoke out in March against Chinese policies in Xinjiang.
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