Nonviolent action around the world -11 September 2009 (Part 1)

Iran: Horrific details of arrest and torture of a student in detention center
By: IHRV, September 10, 2009
According to a report prepared by Amir Kabir Newsletter, a student identified only by the initials A.G., was kidnapped by military forces in Tehran on July 14.  During the arrest, this student was subjected to both physical and verbal abuse… The Amir Kabir Newsletter stated that the student, who had been injured with deep wounds about the face and with broken fingers, was not allowed to seek medical treatment from prison doctors. The student was recently released from Evin Prison on a 50,000 USD bond to attend to his injuries, which were progressively getting worse.
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New Tweets, old needs
By: Roger Cohen, NY Times, September 9, 2009
Two mullahs gaze out on a crowd of protesters in Tehran. The one says, “Arrest the correspondents.” To which the despondent reply is: “But they’re all correspondents!” This story, recounted by Mahasti Afshar, an Iranian-American scholar, during a debate at the University of Southern California, captures the post-election coming-of-age of new social media like Twitter that have provided critical information and images on the post-electoral upheaval even as the authorities have driven out mainstream networks and newspapers.
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Hengameh Shahidi on hunger strike in Iran prison
By: Iran Human Rights Voice, September 9, 2009
Hengameh Shahidi is a journalist and a member of Etemad Melli party who has been held in section 209 of Evin Prison for the past 55 days.  In a sign of protest against treatment received from her interrogators, she has gone on hunger strike. According to Ms. Shahidi’s family, she sounded very lethargic and sickly, indicating the extent of the pressures that she has endured.
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Iran: Authorities investigated victim instead of rape
By: Babylon & Beyond, September 9, 2009
Instead of investigating allegations of guards raping detained protesters, Iranian authorities went door to door in one alleged victim’s neighborhood trying to dig up dirt about him, one of Iran’s leading opposition figures said. Barely 24 hours after he spoke to the Los Angeles Times’ Ramin Mostaghim on Monday, authorities raided and shut down the prison abuse investigation office of Mehdi Karroubi, an Iranian opposition leader and politician who was profiled in a story published today.
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Iranian opposition offices are raided
By: Nazila Fathi, NY Times, September 8, 2009
The Iranian authorities on Monday and Tuesday raided offices connected to two senior opposition leaders in Tehran, arresting their top aides and seizing documents, Iranian news agencies and the leaders’ Web sites reported. The two opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Moussavi, ran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election, which they say was rigged by the government. Mr. Karroubi, a former speaker of Parliament, has further charged that men and women detained in the crackdown after the election were tortured and raped while in custody.
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Supreme leader stokes fears of new cultural revolution in Iran
By: Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe, September 3, 2009
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has suggested that the study of social sciences leads to creeping doubts and uncertainty over religious principles. This week, he called on the government and the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council to take a serious look at the issue. Some recognize echoes of the mass purges and curriculum revisions that took place just after the founding of the Islamic Republic 30 years ago.
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Iran: Jailed trade unionist needs urgent medical treatment
By: Amnesty International, September 1, 2009
Prisoner of conscience Mansour Ossanlu’s health is deteriorating. Despite the recommendation by the Coroner, and Medical Examiner, at the end of last year that Mansour be treated outside the prison, the authorities continue to refuse to allow him to leave for treatment.
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Honduras: Vote to go ahead despite international warning
By: Juan Ramón Durán, Up Side Down World, September 10, 2009
Although the international community has warned that it will not recognize the results of the November elections in Honduras, the de facto government in power since the Jun. 28 coup d’etat says the vote is going ahead. But many, both within and outside Honduras, say the results of the elections would only be valid if the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti accepts the “San Jose accord” – the 11-point compromise proposed by Arias that includes Zelaya’s reinstatement as president to complete his term, which ends in January.
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Honduras’s bosses offer to pay people to vote in election
By: Morning Star UK, September 10, 2009
Honduras’s increasingly isolated coup regime has announced a plan to break the boycott of November’s presidential elections by offering cash discounts to voters. Adolfo Facussé, the head of the Honduran big business federation and a key figure in the regime, said this week that anyone who could prove they had voted would be offered the inducement. “Those with a painted finger will have an automatic discount on any purchases made anywhere in the country,” the wealthy businessman promised.
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Honduran candidates won’t run without Zelaya
By: Taiwan News, September 9, 2009
Two leftist presidential candidates in Honduras say they will not participate in November elections unless ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is allowed back into power. The candidates are leaders of an organization opposed to a June 28 military coup that exiled Zelaya. Interim president Roberto Micheletti says Zelaya’s ouster was legal and he is not coming back.
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Rerun in Honduras – coup pretext recycled from Brazil ’64
By: Mark Cook, Up Side Down World, September 9, 2009
The pretext for the Honduran coup d’état is nothing new. In a remarkable replay, bogus charges that the corporate media in the U.S. and Europe have repeated endlessly without attempting to substantiate-that Honduran president Manuel Zelaya sought to amend the country’s constitution to run for another term-are virtually identical to the sham justification for the 1964 coup against Brazilian president João Goulart.
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Honduras: Students protest plans for draft
By: WW4 Report, September 9, 2009
Organizers said Sept. 3 was the 68th consecutive day of protests against the coup. For the past several days, coup opponents had been visiting various neighborhoods to build support for the resistance, especially in the poorer areas. People in these neighborhoods tend to oppose the coup, but some have been reluctant to join demonstrations.
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U.S. chided for aiding Honduras despite coup
By: One World, September 8, 2009
Honduran coup leader Roberto Micheletti has admitted that the only country with the power to punish his regime is the United States, which purchases 70 percent of the country’s exports and otherwise supports its economy through family remittances and direct aid. Carlsen, who has long covered trade, finance, democracy, and other issues in Latin America, is urging the U.S. State Department to stop “sitting on its hands” and make the official coup declaration that would cut off aid to Honduras.
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Travel ban for Gabon opposition
By: BBC News, September 10, 2009
Gabon has barred opposition leaders from leaving the country following recent riots over claims of fraud in last month’s presidential election. One defeated candidate said he had been prevented from flying to Ivory Coast. A minister said the ban would last while the violence was investigated. Some 300 have been arrested after the protests, in which shops were looted and the French consulate attacked. The opposition says 15 people have died. The authorities put the figure at three.
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Kenya sweeps away top-rank police
By: Peter Greste, BBC News, September 8, 2009
Of all the Kenyan institutions needing reform, the police have been at the top of the list. In the wave of reflection that followed the rioting over the disputed elections, the police were blamed for killing hundreds. A UN report published this year described the killings as systematic and carried out with total impunity. Human rights groups have consistently argued that there can be no justice in Kenya without complete reform of the police service.
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Zimbabwe: Army and police chiefs behind political violence
By: Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, September 8, 2009
A damning report released by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition on Friday names well known senior army and police officials who were at the forefront of last year’s election violence. The report entitled: “Can apples be reaped from a thorn tree – Zimbabwe’s road to transition,” names Air Vice Marshal Abu Basutu, Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena, Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai, Major General Engelbert Rugeje and Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba, among 77 security chefs who spearheaded the terror campaign.
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Zimbabwe: Outrage as new state-sponsored daily newspaper hits the streets
By: Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa, September 8, 2009
Media rights groups, independent newspaper publishers and other observers have reacted with outrage to the release of a new state-sponsored daily paper in Harare, a release which again highlights the undemocratic and politically skewed media environment in the country. The new daily tabloid, H-Metro, which is published by the state’s ZimPapers, hit the streets of Harare on Monday.
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Zimbabwe: Students to boycott classes over high fees
By: Lizwe Sebatha, Zim Online, September 8, 2009
Zimbabwe university and college students will tomorrow begin boycotting classes to pressure education authorities to slash high tuition fees charged at tertiary institutions, in another setback to government efforts to restore order in the country’s education sector. The class boycotts will further pile pressure on the government that is battling to convince teachers to call off a strike action over pay that has entered its second week.
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Zimbabwe: MDC activist murdered in Midlands
By: Raymond Maingire, Zimbabwe Times, September 8, 2009
The mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reports that yet another of its activists has been murdered in an incident linked to renewed political violence. In a statement Monday, the MDC information desk identified the deceased as Godknows Dzoro Mtshakazi. He was reportedly beaten to death by four soldiers at Mufiri Business Centre on August 30, 2009. He was accused of playing a popular MDC song in a bar.
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Peru: 100 days after the ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’, pressure mounts on government
By: Survival International, September 10, 2009
In the hundred days since the ‘Amazon’s Tiananmen’, on 5 June, the government has failed to investigate what happened that day, or to halt its persecution of Peru’s indigenous leaders, three of whom have sought asylum in Nicaragua. The government has also announced plans to auction new oil and gas exploration rights, slated to include large parts of the Amazon, and has given the green light to Anglo-French oil company Perenco to drill for oil on land inhabited by two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. These developments have taken place despite a televised admission by President Garcia that his government had failed to consult with the country’s indigenous population about exploration on their land.
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Cuban post offices OK’d for Internet access
By: Will Weissert, Miami Herald, September 9, 2009
Cuba has authorized public Internet access at post offices across the country, though it has yet to apply what would be a landmark loosening of cyberspace rules in a nation where information is strictly controlled. A decree posted on the Web site of the government’s official gazette this week authorizes Empresa Correos de Cuba to “provide access to public Internet to all naturalized persons.” Many post offices already offer public computers, but they are linked to a national intranet – an extremely limited list of Cuba-only Web sites.
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Cuba: Activists rally behind YouTube rebel
By: Wilfredo Cacio Isla, Miami Herald, September 8, 2009
Juan Carlos González Marcos, better known as Pánfilo, was probably the noisiest of the regulars who gathered at the Villalón Park in the Vedado neighborhood to drink a few. Now he is, without a doubt, the most famous among them. He was arrested and charged with “pre-criminal social endangerment” after jumping into the frame of a video being filmed on the streets of Havana and shouting on camera that there was hunger in Cuba. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
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Venezuela: Chávez visits friendly autocrats
By: Tyler Bridges, Miami Herald, September 5, 2009
Stymied in trying to advance his anti-U.S. agenda in Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is tightening the screws at home — and touring friendly autocratic regimes abroad. Opponents are organizing a massive march for Saturday in Caracas, disregarding warnings by Venezuela’s top federal prosecutor that protesters could face prison sentences of up to 24 years for disturbing the peace.  
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Hong Kong: Journalists accused of incitement
By: China Digital Times, September 9, 2009
Last Friday (Sep 4), three Hong Kong journalists were beaten up and detained by Xinjiang armed polices when they were covering the protest in Urumqi. Yesterday, the authorities in Xinjiang claimed that the three journalists were under the suspicion of inciting public disorder by making hand gestures. The director of the Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Information Office, Hou Hanmin, claimed that two of the journalists had not been authorized to report in the city and described the brutal act of the polices as an “unfortunate incident”.
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China pushes Burma pipelines amid criticism
By: Antoaneta Bezlova, International Press Service, September 9, 2009
After Burmese activists released a detailed report Monday on the project forecasting it will trigger social unrest and create a public relations fiasco for the Chinese company involved, a state-run newspaper in Beijing rejected the allegations, saying the project was unlikely to be stopped. The Shwe Gas Movement, a group of Burmese exiles in Bangladesh, India and Thailand, also said the junta’s recent offensive against ethnic rebels near the pipeline route showed that the regime had no concerns about providing stability for investors, which could translate into great security risks for the project undertakers.
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Vietnamese government cracks down on bloggers
By: Sami Ben Gharbia, Global Voices, September 9, 2009
In response to the fast growing citizen journalist movement, the Vietnamese government launched a new entity (Administration Agency for Radio, Television and Electronics Information) and decree to restrict Internet freedom, censor private blogs, and compel information technology companies to cooperate with authorities. Since the end of last year, authorities in Vietnam have taken further steps to restrict freedom of expression by unleashing a systematic campaign against bloggers and internet activists.
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Burma opposition party decry restrictions
By: Htet Aung Kyaw, Democratic Voice of Burma, September 9, 2009
Burma’s main political opposition party has criticised the ruling junta for restricting the group’s political activity prior to the 2010 elections, despite allowing other organisations to campaign. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party, whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest, sent a letter of complaint to junta supremo Than Shwe last week. The letter referred to the National League for Politics of the Union of Burma, an unregistered group who operate in central Burma’s Magwe division and who have been allowed to open offices and begin campaigning.
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Letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the current Burma policy review
By: Human Rights Watch, September 9, 2009
“Dear Secretary Clinton: We write to you again about the human rights and political situation in Burma and the current US policy review. We believe it is important for the US government to conclude the policy review you announced in February so that American policy and strategy towards Burma will be clear to all concerned. We also believe that as intractable as the situation in Burma may seem, the United States does have options that could have a positive impact on the human rights and political situation in Burma… “
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Nepal: Dissolution of paradise
By: Isabel Hilton, The Guardian, September 9, 2009
The options for Tibetan refugees are narrowing as China flexes its muscles in landlocked Nepal. Last week, exiled Tibetans across the world celebrated their 49th Democracy Day, marking the effort to establish democratic management of their own affairs. In Kathmandu, this resulted in the detention of nine Tibetan demonstrators in Boudanath, in the outskirts of the city, close to one of the main Tibetan refugee settlements.
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Malays charged over cow protest
By: BBC News, September 9, 2009
Six Malaysian Muslims have been charged with sedition for parading the severed head of a cow through the streets of Shah Alam in Selangor state last month. The men were protesting against the building of a Hindu temple near their neighborhood. Some of the demonstrators stamped and spat on the cow’s head. The case has stoked tensions between Malaysia’s Muslim majority and the Indian, mainly Hindu, minority to whom cows are considered sacred.
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Indonesia: Protest demands justice for activist’s death
By: AdnKronos, September 8, 2009
Five years after the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, his supporters have accused the government of lacking resolve to settle the case. State prosecutors have said they simply lack the certified copy of the ruling needed to pursue a case review.
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Kashmir activist discovered dead
By: Altaf Hussain, BBC News, September 8, 2009
A member of a top committee leading protests over the rapes and deaths of two women in Indian-administered Kashmir has been found dead. The discovery has triggered a general strike in the town of Shopian.
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Vietnamese police release blogger, online journalist after more than a week in custody
By: Ben Stocking, Hartford Courant, September 6, 2009
Vietnamese authorities have released a blogger and an online journalist more than a week after detaining them for questioning about postings critical of the Communist government’s handling of relations with China. Police took Bui Thanh Hieu, who writes a blog under the pen name Nguoi Buon Gio, or Wind Trader, into custody for questioning on Aug. 27. Pham Doan Trang, a writer for the popular online newspaper VietnamNet, was detained the day before.
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Time to go ‘down in flames’ for Burma
By: Jean Geran, The American,  September 5, 2009
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said that after the Rwanda genocide she swore ‘that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.’ She faces such a crisis again. After six months, the Obama administration’s review of U.S. policy toward Burma still does not appear to have focused on the one measure with the best chance of inducing the regime to change: a global arms embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. The case for Security Council action on Burma long has been compelling, but now is even stronger.
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China: Student leader in fraud trial
By: Ding Xiao, Radio Free Asia, September 4, 2009
Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan are preparing to try a former leader of China’s 1989 student movement, a U.S. resident, for “economic fraud” after he tried to visit his ailing father in 2008. He was among a group of students who knelt in front of the Great Hall of the People on April 22 to present a list of demands to China’s leaders after the death of moderate premier Hu Yaobang.
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Political prisoners on the rise in Burma
By: Salai Pi Pi, Mizzima, September 4, 2009
Increasing international pressure for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners, notwithstanding the number of ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ has further gone up, an activist group said. The Thailand-based Assistant Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP-B), in a new report said authorities in the past month had arrested and detained 21 more political dissidents pushing up the number of prisoners of conscience from 2190 in the previous month to 2211 in August.
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Sri Lanka: Tamil journalist sentenced to 20 years of hard labour
By: IFEX, September 2, 2009
Popular Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam has been sentenced to 20 years hard labour on charges of supporting terrorism and inciting racial hatred, becoming the first journalist to be convicted under Sri Lanka’s draconian anti-terrorism law, report Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members. He spent five months in prison without charge before his indictment in August 2008 for promoting terrorism through the magazine “Northeastern Monthly”, which he briefly published in 2006. The magazine criticized the government’s role in the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels and accused authorities of withholding food and other essential items from Tamil-majority areas.
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Thailand: Activist jailed for 18 years for insulting monarchy
By: IFEX, September 2, 2009
An opposition activist in Thailand was sentenced to 18 years in jail last week for insulting the monarchy, report the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) and international news media. On 28 August Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was convicted on three counts of lese majeste, each carrying a six-year jail term, for remarks that she made in speeches last year criticising the 2006 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
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