Nonviolent action around the world – 24 November 2009 (Part 1)

West Papuans prepare for risky Independence Day actions
By: Pacific Scoop, November 23, 2009
December 1 is remembered by West Papuans as the day they should have been granted independence over 40 years ago. This year thousands of people across West Papua will be risking their lives by publicly calling for independence from Indonesia. In solidarity …December 1st – West Papuan Independence Day
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Australia: Police or people power?
By: The Australian, November 23, 2009
The balancing act between individual freedom and social order goes to the heart of democratic societies. And while there are rights on both sides, the exercise of those rights often involves trade-offs and compromises. Which is why politicians in Western Australia must take care with pending legislation that would increase police powers to stop and search citizens. Such law and order policies make for easy politics, especially among middle-class groups unlikely to be directly affected. But street kids, Aborigines, even young Lebanese Australian males, to name just a few, may have a more jaundiced view of powers allowing police to apprehend them at will.
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Fiji regime denies fresh clampdown on media over licenses
By: Pacific Scoop, November 22, 2009
The military-led regime in Fiji is rejecting claims it has revoked broadcasting licenses to clamp down further on the media. Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says the authorities in Suva have made changes to broadcasting arrangements, effectively seizing all licenses. Smith says the action has been carried out by decree, which no court or other agency can overturn and the move is an escalation of the regime’s efforts to impose itself on its critics. Fiji broadcasters say they are having to justify their continued use of radio and television frequencies.
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Tonga men launch campaign to end violence against women
By: Radio New Zealand International, November 22, 2009
A group of men in Tonga has made more than two thousand white ribbons in a bid to end violence against women. The group’s leader, the male advocate for the just-opened Women and Children Crisis Centre, says his team of eight has made the ribbons as part of the global White Ribbon Campaign. The 18-year-old campaign urges men to wear the ribbon as a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.
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West Papua: Free the forgotten bird of paradise
By: John Pilger, Green Left, November 20, 2009
The suffering of West Papuans is seldom reported. The Indonesian government bans foreign journalists and human rights organizations from the beautiful territory known by its indigenous people as “the forgotten bird of paradise”.  West Papua would have slipped into oblivion had it not been for a resistance, the Free Papua Movement, whose endurance has defied impossible odds. The Indonesians have been unsparing in their oppression but on December 1, which West Papuans call their independence day, those exiled in Britain and their supporters, will break the silence…
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Zimbabwe: Obama’s remarks at presentation of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award
By: Barack Obama, White House, November 24, 2009
In the words of President Obama, Women of Zimbabwe Arise is “a force to be reckoned with.  Because history tells us, truth has a life of its own once it’s told…In the end, history has a clear direction — and it is not the way of those who arrest women and babies for singing in the streets…It is the way of the maid walking home in Montgomery; the young woman marching silently in the streets of Tehran; the leader imprisoned in her own home for her commitment to democracy.”
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Zimbabwe women speak out on their country’s rights record
By: William Mann, DC50 CW, November 23, 2009
After the beatings by President Robert Mugabe’s policemen, the overcrowded, lice-ridden jail cells, the degradation of nightly strip-searches, Jenni Williams and Magondonga Mahlangu still cling to hope for Zimbabwe. They talk of hope that the devastated country still may be able to write a homegrown constitution, which would lead to real elections and recovery from the depths that a decade of increasingly malign misrule has dug. The women were interviewed in Washington in advance of Monday night’s White House ceremony in which they are to receive the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award from President Barack Obama.
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Angola: Activist launches website to expose corruption
By: Javno, November 23, 2009
An Angolan anti-graft activist on Monday launched a website to raise corruption awareness, days after President Jose Eduardo dos Santos spoke out against the scourge. Rafael Marques’ site will document illegal business dealings of government ministers and create a forum about alleged corruption in the oil-rich southern African country. “Corruption in Angola is more than widespread,” Marques told AFP. “It affects every layer of Angolan society from the top to the bottom. It has become so institutionalised that one cannot conceive state institutions being run in any other way,” said Marques, whose opinions have landed him in prison several times.
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Niger protest for president to quit
By: Al Jazeera, November 22, 2009
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Niger’s capital, Niamey, calling for the resignation of President Mamadou Tandja. Brandishing placards such as “Tandja must  go” and “Down with the Destroyer of Democracy,”, demonstrators on Sunday called for former prime minister and opposition figure Hama Amandou to take the president’s place. The opposition disputes an August 4 referendum that allowed Tandja to stay in power until 2012, after he was supposed to step down in December after two five-year terms in a row.
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TV puppet satire torments Kenyan elite
By: Mail and Gaurdian Online, November 22, 2009
Welcome to Kenya, as seen and portrayed by Africa’s version of Spitting Image, a daring puppet satire that is steadily pushing the boundaries of free expression and outraging the Nairobi elite. The XYZ Show, now preparing for its second series, proved a huge hit when it was launched in May. Its well-aimed barbs delighted a devoted and growing audience, while scandalizing the politicians who are the show’s main target.
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Guinea junta leader’s candidacy ‘not negotiable’
By: AP, November 22, 2009
Guinean junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara’s candidacy in any fresh presidential elections is “not negotiable” in the current mediation talks, Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif said Sunday. “There are some issues which are not negotiable. One is the president’s (Camara’s) candidacy (in new elections),” Cherif said. “We will also not discuss the break-up of the CNDD (the junta),” he added. Cherif said, however, that the junta were willing to form a unity government with the opposition parties to choose a prime minister.
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US concerned at restrictions on Ethiopia opposition
By: Mail and Guardian Online, November 20, 2009
A senior United States official voiced concerns on Friday about the restrictions on opposition parties and human rights abuses in Ethiopia ahead of elections next year. Ethiopia’s polls on May 23 2010 will be the first since 2005 when disputed election results sparked violence that claimed about 200 lives. More than 60 parties, including the ruling EPRDF, have agreed to a code of conduct for next year’s polls, but a leading opposition group has shunned the rules as insufficient in confirming the electoral board’s neutrality.
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African peace-building agenda: “Guinea’s junta must leave”
By: Francois Grignon, International Crisis Group, November 17, 2009
The situation in Guinea remains alarming. Despite the negotiations in Ouagadougou and the buildup of regional and international pressures, the junta seems like it would rather lead the country into a civil war than give up power. The Ouagadougou negotiations enter a critical phase today; their agenda should be limited to the departure of the junta. A “National Unity Government” that allows the current military regime to stay in power would only increase the risks for the region. To prevent a catastrophe, ECOWAS and the United Nations should start preparing for an eventual military intervention.
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US: Giving thanks to activist heroes in 2009
By: Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron, November 23, 2009
The week of Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity for to give thanks and appreciation for those in 2009 who have worked for social and economic justice. In recent weeks UNITE HERE workers held vigils across the nation for non-union housekeepers fired by the Hyatt Corp., activists travelled great distances to help save a gay marriage law in Maine, and students across California rallied and even occupied buildings in resistance to an outrageous 32% tuition hike. But there is one group of activists that demonstrated that progressive change is rarely won quickly or easily, and whose tireless work deserves far greater acclaim: the activists battling for universal health care.
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US: Activists lock themselves inside a drill rig on Coal River Mountain
By: Infoshop News, November 23, 2009
Early this morning two concerned citizens, Dea Goblirsch and Nick Martin, locked down to a drill rig on Coal River Mountain’s Bee Tree mountaintop removal site, effectively stopping blasting. Two others, Grace Williams and Laura Von Dolen, joined them in direct support, holding a banner with the message “Save Coal River Mountain”. These nonviolent protesters have taken this action to bring attention to the extreme danger facing residents of the Coal River Valley from blasting near the Brushy Fork Impoundment.
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Honduran dictatorship is a threat to democracy in the hemisphere
By: Mark Weisbrot, Huffington Post, November 23, 2009
A small group of rich people who own most of Honduras and its politicians enlist the military to kidnap the elected president at gunpoint and take him into exile. They then arrest thousands of people opposed to the coup, shut down and intimidate independent media, shoot and kill some demonstrators, torture and beat many others. This goes on for more than four months, including more than two of the three months legally designated for electoral campaigning. Then the dictatorship holds an “election.”
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Honduras: A week before “elections”, candidate resignations, more censorship and repression
By: Tamar Sharabi, Narco News, November 22, 2009
Nine days before the Honduran elections are scheduled to take place, Channel 36, Cholusat Sur, has been taken off the air once again. A parallel signal has been transmitting over the station. Initially airing pornography, now the same movie has been on repeat for the second day in a row. This new attack on the press comes the morning after Micheletti announced that he would be leaving the Presidency ‘provisionally’ from November 25 until December 2 for the country “to concentrate on the electoral process and not on the political crisis.”
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Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras: De facto government preparing repression in run-up to elections
By: Honduras Resists, November 22, 2009
The Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), to the national and international community expresses its worry about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Honduras that deepens day by day and takes on new forms. The new wave of death threats, political persecution, illegal detention, torture, militarization of some areas of the main cities and incursion of cars without license plates with tinted windows driven by heavily armed people with their faces covered by masks into neighborhoods identified with the Resistance Against the Coup that have been declared free of political propaganda, adds to it the obtaining of information about leaders of the resistance ordered by the military and politicians.
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Cuban blogger urges U.S. Congress to lift travel ban 
By: Cuba Study Group, November 20, 2009
A high-octane effort to let U.S. tourists visit Cuba got a major endorsement Thursday from one of the island’s leading dissidents, who suggested that “along with suitcases, Bermuda shorts and sun block, support, solidarity and freedom could come, too.” Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who this week drew the attention of President Barack Obama, wrote in an essay to Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that lifting the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba “could bring more results in the democratization of Cuba than the indecisive performance of Raul Castro.”
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Argentina forces dirty war orphans to provide DNA
By: AP, November 21, 2009
Valuing truth over the right to privacy, Argentina’s Congress has authorized the forced extraction of DNA from people who may have been born to political prisoners slain a quarter-century ago – even when they don’t want to know their birth parents. Human rights activists hope the new law will help find about 400 people stolen as babies, many from women who were kidnapped and gave birth inside clandestine torture centers during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. Thousands of leftists disappeared in what became known as the “dirty war” against political dissent. Others see the new law as unacceptable government intrusion, legalizing the violation of a person’s very identity.
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Peru: Strike in Espinar (Cusco) resumes, protesters block roads
By: Living in Peru, November 20, 2009
The Strike Committee and the Frente de Defensa de Espinar (Front for Defense of the Interests of Espinar District) did not accept the proposal made by the Prime Minister Javier Velásquez Quesquén, and resumed their strike, announcing they will take more radical actions, breaking the truce they had agreed  upon. The Espinar people do not agree with the projected usage of the waters of the Apurimac River in favor of draft-Siguas Majes II, so they are against the construction of the Angostura Dam, which (according to the villagers) would damage their water supply. Apart from halting activities in the city, protesters are taking control of bridges, and currently more than 3,000 people are blocking the road Arequipa-Juliaca, according to La Republica.
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Albania opposition protests election result
By: Balkan Insight, November 23, 2009
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters held a major rally on Friday evening in Tirana, seeking a partial recount of the ballots cast during the 28 June parliamentary elections. The rally, which was organised by the Socialists headed by Tirana’s mayor Edi Rama was also supported by smaller opposition parties from the left and right, which accuse the government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha of electoral fraud. Speaking at the closing rally opposition leader Edi Rama described the protest as the birth of a new political movement, while giving the government an ultimatum to accept his party’s request for a partial recount.
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UK: Hundreds attend national student conference as activist revival continues
By: Ekklesia, November 23, 2009
Hundreds of student activists from across Britain have spent the weekend in Manchester exploring their response to global challenges such as climate change and corporate power. The gathering follows a year which has seen a resurgence in student activism at universities around the country. The event, entitled Shared Planet, takes place annually, but there was a distinct sense of excitement and urgency to this year’s gathering as students built up to next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen. The world economic crisis was another dominant theme, with the launch of a major new campaign on corporate power, aiming to convince universities “to respect human rights throughout their supply chains, from field to factory to student union shops”.
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UK: Eco activists will be going blue in emissions call
By: This is Bath, November 23, 2009
It’s not the usual colour for an environmental campaigner. But activist Janine Woodward is looking for people to go blue to persuade world leaders of the need for firm action over climate change. The 29-year-old, who manages Green Park Station in Bath, will be attending part of the international climate change talks in Copenhagen next month as part of a team representing Oxfam. Everyone taking part in The Wave on December 5 has been asked to wear blue to create the effect of a sea of people. The march takes place two days before the talks begin in Denmark, with Oxfam keen for richer nations to help poorer countries to adapt to climate change and ensure a fair and legally binding deal.
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Iran’s opposition defiant in face of crackdown
By: The Independent, November 23, 2009
Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi said yesterday that the reform movement would not be cowed by the hardline government’s harsh methods as riot police prevented a demonstration by moderates taking place. Mr Mousavi’s remarks preceded a scheduled gathering by moderates to commemorate the killing of Dariush Forouhar and his wife, who headed the illegal but tolerated Iran Nation Party. They were stabbed to death by “rogue” agents in 1998.
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Iran bans paper for running photo of Baha’i temple
By: Ali Akbar Dareini, AP, November 23, 2009
Iranian authorities have banned the country’s largest-circulation newspaper for publishing a photo of a Baha’i temple, state media reported Monday. Iran’s Shiite cleric-led regime views the Baha’i religion as heretical and has banned it since the 1979 revolution. The photo also gave Iran’s leaders an opportunity to silence the Hamshahri daily, which mostly reports on social issues but which has been critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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Iran’s death penalty is seen as a political tactic
By: Michael Slackman, NY Times, November 22, 2009
In Iran, where there is precedent for executions to surge in the wake of a crisis, human rights groups said there was mounting evidence that the trend had emerged in response to the political tumult that followed the June presidential election. This month, a fifth person connected to the protests was sentenced to death. “The recent spike in executions, particularly of political prisoners, is an attempt to sow fear and spread terror through the population, to persuade them that the powers that be are determined to use all means necessary to put down dissent and that participating in the opposition movement can be highly costly,” said Hadi Ghaemi, a former physics professor who runs the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
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Crackdown on student movements before the student day (16 Azar)
By: IHRV, November 22, 2009
While protests against the continued holding of a large number of detainees from post-election events are still in progress, in the past weeks, the Ministry of Intelligence has increased pressure on student activists by arresting even more students. The arrests began on the afternoon of November 3, and have been continuing to this date.  In the process, Daftar Tahkim Vahdat (The Office of Strengthening Unity), the Iranian Student Organization, and a number of liberal student activists have been among the groups bearing the brunt of raids by Intelligence organizations.
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Iran jails former VP over vote unrest
By: Iran Focus, November 22, 2009
Iran has jailed former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi for six years on charges linked to protests over June’s presidential election, a moderate conservative website reported. Abtahi, who was a close aide of reformist president Mohammad Khatami, was arrested with scores of opposition figures shortly after the publication of official results giving hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term. He has remained in custody ever since.
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Iran: 118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes
By: Maziar Bahari, Newsweek, November 21, 2009
The interrogator sat me in a wooden chair. It had a writing arm, like the chair I’d had in primary school. He ordered me to look down, even though I was already blindfolded: “Never look up, Mr. Bahari. While you are here-and we don’t know how long you’re going to be here-never look up.” All I could see from under the blindfold was the interrogator’s black leather slippers. They worried me. He had settled in for a long session.
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Western Sahara activist refuses Madrid offer of refugee status
By: AP, November 21, 2009
Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar has declined an offer by Madrid to grant her refugee status following her expulsion from the territory by Morocco, a representative said Saturday. Jose Morales Brum, a trade union leader in Spain’s Canary Islands, told AFP that Haidar, a winner of several human rights awards, was continuing the hunger strike she began at midnight on Sunday. Haidar is at the airport on the island of Lanzarote demanding to be sent back to the Western Sahara capital of Laayoune to recover her passport confiscated by Moroccan authorities last week.
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‘Saharan Gandhi’ continues hunger strike in Spanish airport
By: Nacho Martin, Waging Nonviolence, November 20, 2009
The Saharawi non-violent activist Aminatou Haidar, who is also known as the Saharawi people’s Gandhi and was recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2008, remains on a hunger strike – which she began on Sunday – at the Lanzarote airport in Spain after Morocco expelled her by force from the Western Sahara Occupied Territories last Saturday. Despite the fact that doctors are worried about her health – since she suffers a stomach ulcer – Haidar assures that she is not going to abandon her demonstration until the Spanish Government allows her to take a flight to return to her home in the capital of the Saharawi Territories, El Aaiun, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975,  in violation of United Nations resolutions and international law.
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Iran: The green movement’s foreign policy- an interview with Abbas Milani
By: Mohammad Tahavori, Gozaar, November 20, 2009
The aggressive foreign policy of Ahmadinejad’s government has intensified the global and regional challenges around Iran and has directed all the attention towards the Green Movement. World observers intend to evaluate Iran’s future in the global society by understanding the foreign policies supported by the leaders and the members of the Green Movement and eventually establish their own rapport with this movement. In the following conversation we are attempting to depict a picture of the Green Movement’s viewpoints in the context of foreign policy.
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Egypt’s house of the rising son
By: Jon Alterman, World Politics Review, November 20, 2009
It is a strange kind of republic in which presidents serve for life. It is an even stranger one in which rulers inherit power from their fathers. Yet, that is the direction in which the Arab Republic of Egypt is headed. Egypt has experienced hereditary rule for millennia, from the pharaohs who began their reign 5,000 years ago to most (but not all) of the dynastic rulers who have called Cairo home for the last thousand years. The dissolution of the Egyp¬tian monarchy in 1952 marked a turning point in Egyptian politics, ushering in military control and eliminating privileges that had accrued to some families over centuries.
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West Bank: Two moderately injured in anti-fence rally
By: Ynet News, November 20, 2009
Two Palestinians were moderately injured Friday afternoon by Israel Defense Forces fire during the weekly rally against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Naalin. Some 400 protestors, including Palestinians and left-wing Israel and foreign activists took part in the demonstrations. According to the protestors, the IDF violated the law by using live ammunition in the form of “tutu bullets” while attempting to disperse the crowd.
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West Bank and Gaza Strip: Apartheid and beyond
By: Middle East Report 253, November 2009
“Apartheid” is a word bomb. It explodes upon the page, laying bare memories of the regime of racial discrimination that prevailed in South Africa until 1994. So it was no small thing when the South African Human Sciences Research Council issued a report in 2009 concluding that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip is a “colonial enterprise that implements a system of apartheid.” The winter 2009 issue of Middle East Report, “Apartheid and Beyond,” asks what it means that such language is gaining currency and whether it holds promise for bringing peace to the strife-torn land of Israel-Palestine.
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