Nonviolent action around the world – 13 November 2009 (Part 1)

Zimbabwe: International body appeals to Mugabe on behalf of arrested unionists
By: Cuthbert Nzou, Zim Online, November 11, 2009
The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) has written to President Robert Mugabe demanding the immediate release from police custody of trade union leaders arrested on Sunday. Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo and staff members Michael Kandukutu and Percy Mcijo were arrested in Victoria Falls while addressing members of the union for allegedly convening a political meeting without authority from the police as outlined by provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act.
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Zimbabwe: ‘Slow boat to China’
By: Faatimah Hendricks, All Africa, November 11, 2009
When Zimbabweans were being attacked and killed in political violence, a little-known South African musician was inspired to act by the stories she heard from refugees living illegally in South Africa. Johanna Booysen was particularly angered when she heard about a Zimbabwean who died outside an office of South Africa’s home affairs ministry, which handles refugees. So she wrote a protest song.
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Zimbabwe: Tortured MDC activist dies from injuries
By: Lance Guma, SWRA, November 10, 2009
A former MDC security officer who was tortured by state security agents in March 2007 died two weeks ago, from the injuries he sustained. Gift Nhidza was one of several activists arrested when police brutally crushed an opposition protest in Harare’s Highfields suburb.
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Zimbabwe: More students arrested in Bindura
By: Alex Bell, SWRA, November 10, 2009
Four more students were arrested on Monday at the Bindura University, in what appears to be an intensifying clampdown on student activists in the country. The four student leaders were arrested during a campaign meeting at the Bindura University of Science Education, where SRC elections have been underway. The group, including outgoing SRC President Respect Ndanga, had just finished addressing students at a campaign rally for one of the new presidential candidates, Paul Dakarai.
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Zimbabwe: Police arrest ZCTU president Matombo
By: The Zimbabwe Times, November 9, 2009
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Lovemore Matombo, was arrested on Sunday night while addressing members of his union in Victoria Falls. According to the ZCTU information officer, Khumbulani Ndlovu, Matombo was arrested together with two union officials, Michael Kandukutu and Percy Mcijo. Last year, Matombo was arrested and detained together with several human rights activists after organizing a mass action against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s unpopular cash withdrawal limits.
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Over 240 Academics and experts on Latin America call on Obama to denounce human rights abuses by Honduran dictatorship
By: Common Dreams, November 12, 2009
Over 240 academics and experts on Latin America sent a letter to President Obama yesterday urging him to denounce the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the coup regime in Honduras ahead of the planned November 29 elections. They also urged him to demand the immediate restitution of President Manuel Zelaya and to support a full three months of electoral campaigning after the coup has been overturned. This would mean that this month’s elections- which Latin America and the European Union have said they will not recognize- would need to be rescheduled.
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Letter to the President – Honduras human rights violations and elections
By: Council on Hemispheric Affairs, November 12, 2009
In accordance with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs’ underlying mission to promote rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America, our organization has been delighted to help Miguel Tinker Salas and his associates to distribute the following letter to the President that has already been signed by 240 academics and Latin America experts. This document details the ongoing human rights violations in Honduras and urges President Obama and his administration to take a strong stance against the de facto regime that seized power this past June.
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US envoy ‘hopeful’ of Honduras pact
By: Al Jazeera, November 12, 2009
A senior US diplomat says he feels optimistic over efforts to revive a power-sharing pact aimed at ending the political crisis in Honduras before the presidential election later this month. Craig Kelly, the deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, said the US was “advancing the dialogue”, even as he left the Central American country without any deal.
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Honduras accord is on verge of collapse
By: Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post, November 12, 2009
Less than two weeks after U.S. diplomats announced a historic agreement to reverse a coup in Honduras, the accord is in danger of collapse and both Honduran officials and U.S. lawmakers are blaming American missteps for some of the failure. Ousted president Manuel Zelaya, who was expelled by the military in June, said in a telephone interview that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had assured him as recently as last week that the U.S. government was seeking his return to the presidency. But he said that U.S. pressure had eased in recent days and that he no longer had faith in the agreement.
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Tourists of the Honduran counter-revolution
By: Belen Fernandez, Counterpunch, November 12, 2009
A Time magazine article of 24 October entitled “Honduran Tourism: Selling Against a Coup” explains that the post-coup decrease in foreign visitors to Honduras has led the de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti to promote internal tourism: “Many Hondurans have taken the bait, flocking to the white sands of Roatán and filling hotel rooms that were once occupied by U.S. and European travelers. Hondurans who support the de facto regime, such as tour operator Vilma Sauceda of Rema Tours, says the fact that Hondurans are ‘traveling like crazy’ is a sign of support for the Micheletti government.”
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Honduras revisited
By: Robert White, Americas Program, November 11, 2009
On October 20, Senator Jim DeMint stated that he had met with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and that he was pleased that the Department of State finally understood “that it is essential that these elections [in Honduras] go forward and are recognized.” As a result, DeMint said he was “anxious” to release the holds he had placed on the nominations of Arturo Valenzuela to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and Thomas Shannon, the present assistant secretary, to be ambassador to Brazil.
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Honduras: Fiddling while Tegucigalpa burns
By: Michael Lisman, The Guardian, November 11, 2009
Of the many lessons to be learned from the Honduran political crisis, perhaps the most important one for would-be deal brokers is that if you get involved, prepare to stay involved. The Organisation of American States, Costa Rican, Brazilian, Chilean and, most recently, US negotiators at even the highest levels have thrown up their hands in dismay at the intransigence on display. The agreement at the end of last month, which was praised by the Obama administration as a landmark in inter-American diplomacy, is now yet another in a line of broken ones.
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Cuba’s blogosphere has developed a sharper edge
By: Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald, November 11, 2009
The government has long tried to control Cubans’ access to the Internet, putting restrictions on computers and subscriptions, keeping prices high and blocking access to unfriendly sites, including most alternative blogs. But Cubans have found myriad ways to get around the roadblocks: Passwords for Internet access sell on the black market for $10 a month. People with access download information to CDs and USB thumb drives and pass them on to others, who then copy the data and pass it further on. One file being passed around instructs cybernauts on how to get around government blocks on the unfriendly blogs and other websites.
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US expresses outrage over ‘assault’ on Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez
By: Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald, November 11, 2009
The U.S. State Department has told Cuba it deplores last week’s “assault” on blogger Yoani Sánchez, one of the toughest of several expressions of support for the Havana writer. Sánchez and fellow blogger Orlando Luis Pardo said they were beaten Friday by presumed state security agents to keep them away from a “march against violence.” Blogger Claudia Cadelo and another woman were detained in the incident, but without violence.
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“Tell Yoani to shut up”
By: Yoani Sanchez, Huffington Post, November 11, 2009
This prose-poem guest column was written by Orlando Luis Pardo who was kidnapped and beaten together with me on the evening of November 6 in Havana, Cuba.
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Manuel Zelaya’s backers boycott Honduran election
By: Tyler Bridges, Miami Herald, November 10, 2009
A U.S.-brokered accord that was supposed to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to power has collapsed. And his supporters, who have been organizing street protests against his successor, are down to their final card: calling on Hondurans to boycott upcoming elections.
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Voices of Honduran resistance call for deepening of democracy
By: Matt Schwartz, Upside Down World, November 10, 2009
Democracy begins at the ground level and is best carried out in circles. That’s exactly how the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup D’etat gathered this past Saturday morning in order to discuss the upcoming elections. Over 100 representatives from each of the neighborhoods surrounding the capital city sat in five separate discussion circles, each huddled around a giant white sheet of paper on the ground. It proved to be an exemplary demonstration of democracy in action, putting the power to make decisions in the hands of the common citizens, sitting in circles, at the ground level.   
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Costa Rica: Youth-led disarmament campaign launched
By: Religions for Peace, November 9, 2009
The first youth-led global multi-religious campaign on disarmament- led by the youth network of Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative global coalition- was inaugurated in Costa Rica, on Saturday.  The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sánchez offered support for this historic initiative, which was launched on 7-8 November 2009 in San José. More than a hundred senior religious leaders of different faiths, youth, and dignitaries committed to the campaign at the event.
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Mexicans up in arms against mine
By: John Holman, Al Jazeera, November 12, 2009
Armando Mendoza points to the huge cracks in the walls of his house in San Pedro, Mexico. Gesturing to the ceiling that recently fell in, he shows the damage caused by the daily explosions from the Canadian-owned mine San Xavier, which crouches over this small village. Armando is one of the residents who opposed the mine when it was proposed by New Gold, the Canadian gold-mining company, in 1996.
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US: Health care protest spurs counter-demonstration
By: Ted Strong, Daily Progress, November 11, 2009
On one side, speakers, placards and a bus that played country music. On the other, a band, chanting and banners. Of course, Perriello, D-Ivy, wasn’t actually in his office for Tuesday’s show, which started as a protest organized by Americans for Prosperity and ended up spawning a counter-demonstration by local health care reform proponents. Approximately 200 people turned out.
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US: Five people arrested for theatrical protest against Sen. Joe Lieberman taking money from health insurance corporations
By: Hot Indie News, November 10, 2009
Protesters returned to the office of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Tuesday, staging a theatrical demonstration and urging the senator to stop taking money from health insurance corporations. Five demonstrators were arrested after spreading fake dollar bills throughout the building showing Lieberman’s face and the words “Insurance Money Kills Democracy.”
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US: Social media for social change in the 1800’s
By: Digiactive, November 9, 2009
A massive system of human rights abuse is occurring in the United States. Activists, intent on putting a human face on the mass tragedy, appropriate photographs of victims and disseminate them through their social networks. Soon the mainstream media catches on, furthering the outcry. The year is 1863 and the human right abuse is slavery.
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US: A ‘symbolic blockade’ in Florida
By: Angel McCurdy, Florida Freedom Newspapers, November 8, 2009
Horns, waves, signs and shouts greeted motorists on the Marler Bridge on Saturday as more than 100 boats gathered in East Pass to rally for fishermen. The vessels, including about 70 charter boats, formed a “symbolic blockade of the East Pass on the harbor,” said Mike Eller, co-president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, which organized the local flotilla. ishermen also rallied in Panama City, Mexico Beach and Orange Beach, Ala., to publicize how closing the red snapper and amberjack seasons has affected their livelihoods and the problems with how data is collected to support the decision.
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Kenyan tribe to Ban Ki-Moon: ‘We condemn Peru repression’
By: Survival International, November 11, 2009
A spokesman from a tribe in Kenya has condemned the Peruvian government’s attempt to destroy Peru’s Amazon indigenous movement. The condemnation comes from Kiplangat Cheruyot from the Ogiek tribe in response to the revelation that Peru’s government plans to disband Peru’s national organisation for indigenous people in the Amazon.
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Repression of Amazon Indian movement condemned worldwide
By: Survival International, November 10, 2009
The Peruvian government’s unprecedented attempt to destroy Peru’s Amazon Indian movement has been condemned by indigenous leaders around the world. The wave of condemnation comes after it was revealed that the government plans to disband Peru’s national organisation for Amazon Indians.
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Guyana: The critical imperative of self-determination and the rise of nonviolent consciousness
By: Kaieteur News, November 6, 2009
In a prior contribution to the two leading dailies, I ended by stating, “What we need is a revolution of our consciousness, a re-awakening of will to work together for change and to seek common ground where we are told that there is none or that to seek this is to invite defeat upon selves. Wake up Guyana, wake up and let’s make it happen.”
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Kazakh activists’ prosecution politically motivated
By: Michael Allen, Democraocy Digest, November 11, 2009
The prosecution of leading Kazakh democracy and human rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis is politically motivated, new reports suggest. His lawyers and a leading independent journalist told RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service that the Kazakh authorities’ actions prove the political nature of the prosecution. They note that a Supreme Court judge admitted that he did not read the verdict against Zhovtis but still said that it was correct.
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Azerbaijan: Court convicts youth activists and bloggers
By: Jessica Powley Hayden, Eurasia Insight, November 11, 2009
Youth activists Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli were convicted on hooliganism and violence charges in a Baku court on November 11. International observers and youth activists immediately expressed outrage at the verdict. Twenty-six-year-old Adnan Hajizade, a co-founder of the OL (To Be) youth movement, and 30-year-old Emin Milli, a co-founder of the online Alumni Network, were arrested on July 8 for hooliganism after they allegedly started a brawl in a Baku cafe. The prosecution has drawn criticism from international human rights’ organizations as well as local youth activists.
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Uzbekistan: Activist ‘beaten’ after BBC story
By: BBC, November 11, 2009
An Uzbek rights activist has said he was beaten up after helping the BBC investigate the use of child labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. The report found that children as young as 11 were being taken out of school to help pick the cotton harvest. The government pledged to stop using child labour last year after some Western firms boycotted Uzbek cotton.
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Turkmenistan jails green activist for five years
By: Reuters, October 30, 2009
A Turkmen court has jailed a local environmental activist, Andrei Zatoka, for five years, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said, calling the charges against him “bogus”. Zatoka, a biologist, ran an environment protection group shut down by the government in 2003. Rights groups say the government of the reclusive ex-Soviet republic tolerates no dissent and routinely locks up activists, a charge it denies.
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China ‘running illegal prisons’
By: BBC, November 12, 2009
China is running a number of unlawful detention centres in which its citizens can be kept for months, according to campaign group Human Rights Watch. It says these centres- known as black jails- are often in state-run hotels, nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals. Among those detained are ordinary people who have travelled to Beijing to report local injustices.
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Group accuses China of abuses in secret jails
By: Keith Bradsher, NY Times, November 12, 2009
In a report released in Hong Kong and based on interviews with 38 former detainees from so-called black jails, Human Rights Watch accused guards at these prisons of beating, sexually abusing, intimidating and robbing men, women and teenagers. The former detainees had gone to Beijing to submit petitions to the national government after suffering what they described as corruption or other abuses of power at lower levels of government.
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China says Obama should understand about Tibet
By: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, November 12, 2009
A Chinese government official has said Barack Obama should understand China’s opposition to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence because he is a black president who lauded Abraham Lincoln’s role in America abolishing slavery. Qin Gang, a foreign ministry spokesman, likened slavery in America to Tibetan society under the Dalai Lama, and Lincoln’s opposition to the secession of southern states to China’s opposition to Tibetan independence. Tibetan groups were quick to respond by claiming the mantle of Lincoln for their own cause.
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Chinese activist stuck in limbo at Tokyo airport
By: Straights Times, November 12, 2009
A Chinese rights activist said on Thursday he had been stuck in limbo at a Tokyo airport for nine days after his country’s communist government denied him the right to return home. In a situation reminiscent of the stateless man portrayed in the movie The Terminal, Feng Zhenghu has been camped out on a couch near the immigration checkpoint at Narita International Airport since Nov 4.
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South Korea: Concert on Friday for North Korean defectors
By: The Korean Herald, November 11, 2009
“We hope to help raise the public’s awareness of the defectors’ issue and increase the number of sponsors to support their settlement as South Korean citizens,” said Kim Il-joo, a state-funded aid group’s chairman. The number of new defectors has been on the rise annually, from 1,138 in 2002 to 2,809 last year. About 75 percent of those who recently entered the South are women, according to Kim.
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A necessary addition to Obama’s China trip agenda: Public interest lawyers
By: Elizabeth Lynch, Huffington Post, November 11, 2009
With constant surveillance and random harassment by Chinese police, a public place like McDonald’s decreases the very real risk that the police will arbitrarily drag these public interest lawyers, known in Chinese as weiquan lawyers into custody. “The government took away our ability to work … to help the people achieve their rights,” Beijing lawyer surnamed Xie* (pronounced Syeah) said as he explained the recent disbarment of over 20 weiquan lawyers from practicing law in China.
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China: Protest gathering ‘illegal,’ police say
By: Ding Xiao, RFA, November 10, 2009
A signature campaign that recently brought thousands of residents in the northern Chinese city of Datong onto the city’s streets was an “illegal assembly,” police said. “Local citizens held an event to sign a petition against the rise in heating costs,” an officer who answered the phone at the Datong municipal police department said.
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China: Laid-off teachers, workers protest
By: Qiao Long and Fang Yuan, RFA, November 10, 2009
More than 100 laid-off elementary school teachers in central China petitioned the local government Tuesday over retirement pensions, members of the group said. The teachers, who work for the education system in Dawu county of central China’s Hubei province, said they were angered over back premiums they would have to pay to be eligible to receive their pensions.
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China: ‘Wall protests’ for Obama’s eyes
By: Luisetta Mudie, RFA, November 9, 2009
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chinese netizens have lodged protests on a commemorative site against Internet controls in their country, with some calling for the attention of U.S. President Barack Obama, who travels to Beijing next week. “Mr. Obama, help us KO the bloody GFW. Yes, you can! Thank you very much,” wrote a user called “Trigant” on the microblogging service Twitter. The “GFW” denotes what Internet users call “the great firewall of China”- an elaborate system of virtual blockades aimed at preventing users from accessing content the authorities want to keep off-limits.
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North Korea: The defectors’ tale
By: Hattie Garlick, Times of London, November 4, 2009
Mr. Jung, 46, was one of two North Korean defectors who yesterday spoke to The Times before giving evidence in Parliament of the human rights abuses they had suffered. The rare glimpse they provided of life inside the notoriously closed and secretive regime was given in the hope of refocusing international attention, long distracted by the country’s nuclear ambitions, on North Korea’s human rights abuses.
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