Nonviolent action around the world – 20 November 2009 (Part 1)

Activist probing Guinea massacre denied entry
By: AP, November 19, 2009
A human rights activist says he’s been denied entrance to Guinea, where he planned to investigate a massacre of opposition supporters earlier this year. Mabassa Fall denounced the move by Guinea’s ruling junta, saying “there can be no justice without truth.” Fall, who is the permanent representative of the International Federation of Human Rights at the African Union, said Wednesday that Guinean authorities should cooperate.
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Liberia: Press under attack
By: All Africa, November 19, 2009
There was once upon a time in Liberia’s dark past when it was fashionable to silence the press by rounding up reporters and editors and incarcerating them for months without charge. There was also a time when anti-media cloak-and-dagger agents used the cover of darkness to raze media houses. These are days that Liberians thought would never back again – ever. But they seem to already be at hand – or aren’t we? The Analyst presents this account of the ordeal of the newest newspaper in town – FrontPageAfrica (FPA).
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Sierra Leone: Song sparks governance debate
By: Mohamed Fofanah, IPS, November 18, 2009
Nothing has ever sparked a debate on the state of governance in the country like the song released by one of Sierra Leone’s most popular artists, Emerson Bockarie. The song, ‘Yesterday Betteh Pass Tiday’, recorded in Krio, means ‘yesterday is better than today’ directly translated into English. It has sent shock waves and started debate all over the country, not because of poetic lyrics or a dance rhythm, or the zouk style popular in Sierra Leone, but because of its trenchant social commentary.
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Malawi: Citizens demand local councils
By: Claire Ngozo, All Africa, November 17, 2009
In Malawi, local government elections are as rare and endangered as the country’s black rhinoceros. In fact, it seems as if the local government elections are even more endangered than the wild animal – because at least the black rhinoceroses are slowly being re-introduced into Malawi. But for now, there seems to be little hope in sight for local government elections being re-introduced on a regular basis.
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US: Environmental activism through art
By: Chandra Merry, Martlet, November 19, 2009
Activism is defined by communication. Communication is only effective when people are engaged. Facts and charts, despite being valuable, entail little human connection. We need a movement that recognizes the saving value in the arts for environmental activism. The university system needs to come together in this movement to elevates the arts as activism.
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US: Protesters – Why can’t we do to DC what we did to Seattle?
By: David Swanson, Antimedius, November 18, 2009
Why is it that activists were able to shut down the center of this major city in Washington state, but for years we have been unable to shut down the center of Washington, D.C., in opposition to wars. We’ve turned out more people to march around DC on a Saturday than took part in the Seattle action. But we’ve never shut the place down on a series of weekdays and prevented congressional, White House, and military staff from getting to work. And we’ve never tried to do so — not with the sort of broad-coalition, grass-roots, strategic organization that led up to Seattle.
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Cuba: President Obama’s answers to my questions
By: Yoani Sanchez, Huffington Post, November 19, 2009
As I reported yesterday, I submitted seven questions to the American president, Barack Obama. He kindly took the time to respond; following are the answers I received from the White House.
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Cuban repression has continued under Raúl Castro, says HRW
By: Rory Carroll, The Guardian, November 18, 2009
The Cuban president, Raúl Castro, has crushed dissent and continued repression in the country since taking over from his brother Fidel, according to a Human Rights Watch report published today. The government has extended use of an “Orwellian” law that allows the state to punish people before they commit a crime on suspicion they may do so, a tactic designed to cow actual and potential opponents, it said. The report, New Castro, Same Cuba, paints a near-dystopian image of an island where those who step out of line risk being beaten and jailed in horrific conditions which verge on torture.
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Chile applies dictator-era law to Indian violence
By: Eva Vergara, AP, November 19, 2009
The government of President Michelle Bachelet is prosecuting Mapuche activists with secret evidence, protected witnesses and other tough aspects of an anti-terrorism law inherited from Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who jailed and tortured Bachelet’s father and sent her into exile.
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Brazilian, Argentine presidents not to recognize elections in Honduras
By: China News, November 19, 2009
Brazilian President da Silva and his Argentine counterpart Cristina Kirchner said on Wednesday that they would not recognize the results of the elections to be organized by the post-coup de facto government in Honduras. Da Silva and Kirchner said that Jose Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran president ousted in the June political-military coup, should be restituted to his function so that constitutional order and democracy is reestablished in the country.
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Honduras: Decision to restore ousted leader is delayed until after vote
By: NY Times, November 18, 2009
Honduran lawmakers will not decide whether to restore the ousted president until after the Nov. 29 presidential election, the congressional leader said Tuesday, a decision that could undermine international support for the vote. Congress will meet Dec. 2 to decide whether Manuel Zelaya should be returned to the presidency to finish his constitutional term, the congressional president, José Alfredo Saavedra, told HRN, a local radio station.
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Honduras: More candidates join election boycott
By: WW4 Report, November 17, 2009
The mayor of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second largest city, confirmed that he was no longer running for another term in general elections scheduled for Nov. 29. “The people don’t believe in this process, because these are elections where absolutely nothing is going to get elected,” Mayor Rodolfo Padilla Sunceri said. The Nov. 29 general elections are intended to elect the president, the 128 members of the National Congress, 20 deputies to the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), and members of the country’s municipal governments.
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Venezuela the most corrupt country in Latin America, TI says
By: El Universal, November 17, 2009
Venezuela is one of the world’s most corrupt countries and the worst in Latin America after being ranked 162nd. By contrast, Chile and Uruguay are considered role models, since both are ranked 25th, followed by Costa Rica (43rd) and Cuba (61st), according to the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released by Transparency International on Tuesday. Since 1955, the global civil society organization publishes annually an index of perception of corruption ranging from a score of “10,” for a country perceived as “transparent,” to “0” for one seen as “corrupt,” AFP reported. Venezuela scored 1.9.
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Transparency International 2009 report on corruption…


Twenty years ago, a rumor brought down Czech Reds
By: Dan Bilefsky, NY Times, November 19, 2009
Vaclav Havel, the dissident who led the Velvet Revolution that overthrew Communism in Czechoslovakia, once declared that “truth and love must triumph over lies and hatred.” Yet the revolution was set off by a false rumor that remains a mystery 20 years later. On Tuesday, thousands of Czechs marched through the streets here replicating a nonviolent student march on November 17, 1989, in which the police rounded on demonstrators and rumors spread that a 19-year-old university student had been brutally killed.
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Greece: Tear gas fired at Athens protest
By: BBC, November 18, 2009
Police in Athens have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of youths marching to commemorate those who died during a student uprising 36 years ago. The violence came after the protesters marched through the capital beating drums and chanting slogans.
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Russia still a threat, says Czech revolutionary
By: Matthew Day, The Age, November 18, 2009
The dissident playwright who led Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution has used its 20-year anniversary to warn his country that Russia is still a threat despite the demise of the Soviet Union. Vaclav Havel, 73, who played a pivotal role in overcoming communist rule in 1989, said the Russian Government had mastered the art of manipulating its population while maintaining a facade of democracy. The era of dictatorships and totalitarian systems has not ended at all,” he said. ”It requires [from us] alertness, carefulness, caution, study and a detached view.”
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Czech Republic: The Velvet Revolution and the power of symbols
By: Peter Korchnak, Semiosis Communications, November 17, 2009
In the past decade, a number of regime-change events, successful or not, have taken place in the former Eastern Bloc and elsewhere that took their inspiration from the Velvet Revolution’s symbolism. Many of these events have been grouped under the moniker color revolutions. As simplistic as they may sound, the adjectives serve as convenient and memorable labels to quickly describe the complex events on the ground.
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UK: From democracy activist to censor?
By: Jeremy Goldkorn, The Guardian, November 17, 2009
The Guardian’s defeat of a gagging order engineered by Trafigura’s law firm, Carter-Ruck, bears uncomfortable similarities to another recent attack on freedom of expression in the UK, the libel suit brought by the British Chiropractic Association against science writer Simon Singh’s criticism of chiropractic treatments. In the latter case and others like it, British libel laws allow companies and wealthy individuals to sue newspapers, scientists and bloggers – with law suits that would be thrown out of court in the US – for expression that should be protected as free speech.
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Turkey: Partnering with men to end gender violence
By: IPS, November 17, 2009
Success in fighting violence against women may well hinge on partnership with an often overlooked but still a critically vital party – men themselves. Population experts are moving ahead with strategy and projects that go beyond treating men simply as perpetrators or, at best, uncaring and passive onlookers. Recently, more and more men are looked upon to become allies in combating violence against women.
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HRW urges Russia to protect activists
By: HRW, November 17, 2009
European leaders should use the upcoming EU-Russia summit to convey alarm over deteriorating human rights in Russia and to press for concrete improvements, Human Rights Watch said today. The summit is scheduled for November 18 and 19, 2009, in Stockholm. During the past year, Russia has suffered unprecedented blows to its human rights community, with at least five independent civic activists murdered, and others imprisoned, beaten, and harassed.
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Anglo-French company nominated for spoof Friends of the Earth award
By: Survival International, November 16, 2009
An Anglo-French company has been nominated for a spoof Friends of the Earth (FoE) award for its billion dollar project in a part of the Amazon inhabited by two of the world’s last uncontacted tribes. The company, Perenco, is one of four nominees in the human rights category for Friends of the Earth France’s ‘Pinocchio Prize 2009’. The prize is intended to raise awareness of, and condemn, French businesses who ‘perpetrate the most serious human rights violations.’
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Morocco: Reverse expulsion of Sahrawi activist
By: HRW, November 19, 2009
Morocco must reverse its expulsion of Sahrawi rights activist Aminatou Haidar, who is president of the Collective of Sahrawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA), and allow her to enter her country of nationality, Human Rights Watch said today. Spain must intercede with Morocco to ensure her return, Human Rights Watch added.
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Iran: Prison doctor’s death raises questions
By: Michael Slackman, NY Times, November 19, 2009
Judicial authorities in Iran plan to investigate the death of a young doctor who had testified before Parliament about prisoner abuses in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election. Reformist Web sites said that Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani, 26, was killed in order to silence him, as he was the only independent witness to be able to corroborate the charges of torture.
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Israel: Police arrest female activist after donning prayer shawl at Western Wall
By: Nir Hasson, Haaretz, November 19, 2009
Police arrested a woman praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall yesterday for wearing a prayer shawl. The woman was visiting the wall with some 20 members of the religious group Women of the Wall, which has been holding a Rosh Hodesh prayer for the new month at the Western Wall for the past 21 years. Police, who were called in when the women took out their Torah scroll in the main wall plaza, not in the women’s section, detained Nofrat Frenkel of the Conservative Movement and had her sign a statement saying she would not go near the wall for the next 15 days.
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Pakistani army kills six civilians, sparking protests
By: Jason Ditz, Anti War, November 18, 2009
Dozens of angry Pakistanis in the North-West Frontier Province’s Hangu district staged protests along the main highway today, condemning the Pakistani Army’s attack that left at least six civilians dead. The protesters staged a sit-in and placed the bodies outside of the office of the “district coordination officer” as part of the protest. They also chanted “stop the killing of innocent people.”
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Iranian death sentences seen as intimidation move over postelection unrest
By: Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE, November 18, 2009
Five people have been sentenced to death in Iran in connection with the unrest that shook the Islamic republic following President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s hotly disputed reelection earlier this year. But the move — coming after scores have been given lengthy prison sentences — is widely seen as a warning by Tehran intended to prevent future protests over the election, which the opposition says was rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad. For months, the opposition Green movement has continued its protests in defiance of a brutal crackdown on dissent.
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Iran: Latest video of November 17 University demonstrations
By: Scott Lucas, Enduring America, November 18, 2009
Watch the video…

Iran: Five protesters sentenced to death
By: BBC, November 17, 2009
Five people have so far been sentenced to death and 81 have received jail terms in connection with post-election unrest in Iran, prosecutors have said. The Tehran Justice Department said those facing the death penalty were members of “terrorist and opposition groups”, state TV reported.
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Why Morocco welcomed human rights activist Aminatou Haidar home by arresting her
By: Erik German, Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2009
Fresh off winning a prestigious international human rights award in New York, activist Aminatou Haidar received no warm welcome when she returned to Morocco last Friday. Instead, she was arrested and deported by Moroccan officials. On Monday, Ms. Haidar declared a hunger strike and said she’ll carry out her fast “to the death” if authorities continue to bar her return home. It’s one of many risks she has taken in a 20-year campaign to win independence for the people of Western Sahara, a region Morocco annexed in 1975.
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West Bank: Documentary on nonviolent protests against the separation wall
By: Yaniv Reich, Hybrid States, November 17, 2009
Every week, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists protest the separation wall. Here is a two-minute introduction to an excellent looking movie about this growing movement called Bi’lin Habibti. Note Bi’lin is one town whose agricultural land was annexed by the wall, undermining Palestinian livelihoods.
Watch the video…

Iraqi civil society network recognized
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, November 13, 2009
The Iraqi nonviolence network La’Onf has been awarded the 2009 Rights & Democracy’s John Humphrey Award in appreciation of its work to promote peaceful and non-violent political alternatives for Iraqis. “In a country where war has been raging since 2003, the La’Onf network offers a peaceful and non-violent alternative to Iraqis who wish to participate in the reconstruction of Iraqi civil society institutions and promote democratic change,” said Aurel Braun, Chair of Rights & Democracy’s Board of Directors.
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Azerbaijan: How we used Facebook to try to free Azerbaijan’s ‘donkey bloggers’
By: RFERL, November 19, 2009
The following is a guest post from Ali S. Novruzov, an Azerbaijani who blogs over at “In Mutatione Fortitudo.” He describes how the arrests and convictions of Azerbaijan’s “donkey bloggers” have pushed the country’s youth activists into finding creative ways to get their message out using new technologies.
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Russian human rights activist thrown out of Kyrgyzstan
By: RiaNovosti, November 19, 2009
The director of the Central Asian branch of Russia’s leading rights organization, Memorial, said its human rights activist Bakhrom Hamroev was deported from Kyrgyzstan on Thursday. Hamroev, who is a key activist in the Uzbek community in Russia, and another human rights activist Izzatilla Rakhmatillaev were detained by Kyrgyz National Security Service officials in the country’s southern city of Osh on Wednesday.
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Kazakh rights activist denied access to lawyer
By: RFE, November 18, 2009
The imprisoned director of the Kazakh Bureau for Human Rights, Yevgeny Zhovtis, has been denied access to his lawyer, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports. Zhovtis’s lawyer, Vitaly Voronov, was not allowed to meet Zhovtis on November 17. Prison officials said the reason for denying access to the visitors is a flu quarantine. He was also reportedly not allowed to see fellow rights activists.
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Azerbaijan: Baku official slams ‘bias’ over blogger verdicts
By: RFE, November 17, 2009
An official in Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s administration says the international community’s reaction to the case of two bloggers given jail sentences last week is biased, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service reports. Ali Hasanov, head of the Azerbaijani president’s Social and Political Affairs Department, said Azerbaijani law “applies equally to everyone and there is no special treatment for intellectuals and those who are closer to the West, like the bloggers.”
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