Nonviolent action around the world – 4 December 2009 (Part 2)

Iran opposition remains defiant but struggles to keep up protests
By: Ian Black, The Guardian, December 3, 2009
It’s not easy getting a clear picture of what’s happening in Iran these days: correspondents from western news organisations have not been granted visas since June’s disputed presidential elections; the few accredited foreign journalists still in Tehran face severe restrictions; and international attention focuses mostly on the nuclear issue, with occasional diversions. Yet there’s no shortage of information from individual Iranians who manage to keep in touch with the wider world, by phone, email and social networking sites.
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Iran sentences two journalists to long prison terms
By: Committee to Protect Journalists, December 3, 2009
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by the sentencing of Hengameh Shahidi and Saeed Laylaz, two prominent journalists, to extended prison terms. Shahidi was sentenced on Monday to six years and three months in prison, while Laylaz was sentenced to a prison sentence of no fewer than nine years, according to local and international news reports.
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Iran: Top student leader arrested
By: Iran Human Rights, December 2, 2009
With the approach of the National Students Day, December 7, the authorities have stepped up persecution and prosecution of student activists throughout the country, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. Authorities arrested prominent student leader Milad Asadi, a member of the Central Council of the Student Union to Foster Unity, at his home on the afternoon of 1 December. Other student have been detained or summoned on to appear before the Revolutionary Court.
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Green leverage over Iran
By: Michael Gerson, Washington Post, December 1, 2009
Iran has entered a final stage of irrevocable choices about its nuclear program. It has backed out of a deal that would have sent most of its uranium stockpile abroad to be processed for peaceful purposes. Following a censure of Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ahmadinejad announced plans to construct 10 additional nuclear enrichment sites and Iran’s parliament passed a resolution urging decreased cooperation with the IAEA. This is a regime in total defiance of international demands, moving toward breakout nuclear weapons capability.
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Iran prison doctor ‘was poisoned’, prosecutors say
By: BBC News, December 1, 2009
The doctor who died at an Iranian detention centre holding opposition supporters was poisoned, the Iranian authorities have said. But it was still not known if Dr Ramin Pourandarjani committed suicide or was murdered. “The coroner said he died after consuming medical pills, the traces of which were found in his salad,” Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi said. The coroner also revealed the person who delivered the food had been interrogated.
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The Iran syndrome
By: Christopher Dickey, Newsweek, December 1, 2009
Once again, Iran has taken hostages. This time, they are Britons-four of them young crewmembers of a racing yacht sailing out of the tiny principality of Bahrain, and one of them a radio announcer who was along for the ride. As usual, the Iranian regime is claiming that these people broke the law, in this case by wandering into Iran’s territorial waters. As usual, Iranian officials are threatening to denounce them as spies. And, as usual, all Tehran is proving is that it makes up laws…
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Egypt’s opposition misled by fixation with Mubarak’s son
By: Amr Hamzawy, The National, December 1, 2009
Political opposition in Egypt has been stirred by a recent campaign against Gamal Mubarak, the son of the president Hosni Mubarak, becoming Egypt’s new president in 2011. In particular, Ayman Nour, a key opposition figure and a presidential candidate in 2005, has mobilised a wide spectrum of political groups to present a united front in upcoming legislative and presidential elections in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Upon closer look, however, Mr Nour’s rallying cry is troubling.
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Iran: A blogger released, another arrested
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices Online, November 30, 2009
Iranian authorities released Mohammad Ali Abtahi,former vice president and blogger on a $700,000 bail one week ago after his lawyer said he had been sentenced to six years in prison. Human rights activists reported  that a few days ago Sasan Aghayi, a blogger and journalist got arrested in Tehran.
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Fiji: Military intent on retaining power
By: Coup Four Point Five, December 3, 2009
Professor Brij Lal spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Aaron Roden about the character and contradictions of Fiji’s military dictatorship, led by coup leader Frank Bainimarama. The first questioned asked was “You’ve said the essence of Bainimarama’s 2006 coup is no different to the previous coups in Fiji’s history, even though past coups were largely based on establishing power for the Fijian ethnic majority. What do you mean by this?”
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How West Papua was stolen
By: Andrew Johnson, Socialist Worker, December 3, 2009
In 1936, the Standard Oil Company discovered a mountain in western New Guinea that was the world’s greatest gold and copper deposit. The mountain was part of the homeland of the Amungme tribal nation, and sacred. Neither they nor the Dutch colonial governor would ever allow an American company to mine and destroy this mountain, so the Rockefeller family kept its discovery secret…
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West Papua video footage of Indonesian troops opening fire on peaceful protestors
By: Free West Papua, December 2, 2009
A number of Papuans including women and children had gathered by the roadside to mark Independence Day. They were holding a flag raising ceremony and signing the Papuan national anthem in Abepura district when an army truck pulled up. On the footage, Indonesian troops can be seen disbanding from the truck and firing shots into the crowd before bundling protestors and their flags / placards into the back of an army lorry.
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Papuan protesters held following commemoration rally
By: Tom Allard, The Age, December 2, 2009
Protesters staged rallies across the restive Indonesian region of West Papua yesterday, marking the long and fruitless campaign of its Melanesian people to gain independence from Jakarta. Organizers of the rallies said more than a dozen people had been arrested in the West Papuan capital of Jayapura after police dispersed the crowd by firing rounds of live ammunition into the air. Martin Manggaprow, the coordinator of the Jayapura rally, accused police of beating protesters before arresting them.
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Zimbabwe: Back on the air, but don’t mention Mugabe
By: Victoria Derbyshire, TimesOnline, December 3, 2009
I presented my Radio 5 Live programme from Harare, the first time a full domestic BBC programme has been transmitted from Zimbabwe since foreign press were banned in 2001. It did not look like the capital city you would associate with a developing country. It looks like a capital city anywhere in the world. However, if you are politically active and support the Movement for Democratic Change, the party of the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, you are still at risk of being threatened, harassed and beaten up.
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Guinea: Evidence of new arrests, harassment and illegal detentions
By: Amnesty International, December 3, 2009
Guinea’s security forces are continuing to arrest and harass activists and others, following a massacre during a political protest on 28 September, Amnesty International found during a recent visit to Guinea. Mouctar Diallo, vice-president of Guinea’s national human rights commission, was arrested on 26 November. Amnesty International discovered that Diallo is being detained in military Camp Alpha Yaya, for “endangering the security of the state”.
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Equatorial Guinea begins vote count
By: Al Jazeera, December 3, 2009
Ballot-counting has begun in Equatorial Guinea following Sunday’s presidential election, after opposition claims of widespread vote rigging. “In recent weeks the government has stifled and harassed the country’s beleaguered political opposition … and imposed serious constraints on international observers,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said. Critics have accused Obiang, who has ruled 1979, of attacking and harassing opposition politicians, and having the election organized by his own ministers.
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Morocco hits out at Western Sahara activist
By: AFP, December 3, 2009
Morocco on Wednesday warned a rights activist on hunger strike for more than two weeks after being denied entry into her native Western Sahara she must face the consequences of her actions. Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri said award-winning activist Aminatou Haidar had “disowned her identity and her nationality” and accused her of provoking the authorities. “She must accept, on her own, the legal and moral consequences which result from this behaviour,” the minister told the Moroccan parliament.
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Western Sahara activist in third week of hunger strike
By: Tito Drago, IPS, December 3, 2009
The firm stance taken by Western Sahara independence activist Aminatou Haidar, in her third week of a hunger strike in an airport in Spain’s Canary Islands, contrasts with the weak position of the Spanish government vis-à-vis the Moroccan government, which it has failed to pressure to allow the activist to return to her homeland.
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Marooned at Lanzarote airport, the ‘Gandhi of the Western Sahara’
By: The Independent, December 2, 2009
Expelled from her homeland and weak from a hunger strike, the last thing award-winning Sahrawi independence activist Aminatou Haidar needs right now is a €180 fine. But that’s what a Spanish court has ordered her to pay for disturbing the peace at the Lanzarote airport in the Canary Islands, where the woman known as the Gandhi of the Western Sahara has camped since 16 November, refusing to eat anything but sugar water in protest at what she sees as her forced exile by Morocco.
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Nigeria: Release El-Mustapha, others, demonstrators insist
By: Samuel Aruwan, All Africa, December 2, 2009
Hundreds of protesters under the aegis of National Youth Progressive Forum on Monday in Gusau, Zamfara State, staged a peaceful demonstration demanding the immediate release of Major Hamza El-Mustapha, former Chief Security Officer to the late Head of State General Sani Abacha, as well as Col. Jibrin Bala Yakubu, former Military Administrator of the state, Mr. John Danbaba, a Police Commissioner, and Rabo Lawal.
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Western Sahara: British Parliament tables motion in support of Aminatou Haidar
By: Afrik, December 1, 2009
A cross-party group of British MP’s today tabled a Motion in Parliament expressing “dismay” at the expulsion of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Amainatou Haidar from Western Sahara. The Motion signed by parliamentarians from all three main political parties states that “this House condemns the escalating wave of human rights violations against Saharawi human rights activists..[and] is dismayed over the expulsion of prominent Saharawi human rights activist and winner of the 2009 Civil Courage Award Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara.”
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New lawyer network serves bloggers and online journalists
By: Robert Mahoney, Committee to Protect Journalists, December 3, 2009
Whether you are an old-school journalist looking to move online or a Net native with journalistic aspirations, chances are at some point you’re going to need a lawyer. The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center is aware of that and wants to help. David Ardia, director of the project, have signed up a host of U.S. law firms to provide free legal services to new online publishers. The project, launched last month, is called the Online Media Legal Network.
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A tale of two human rights awardees
By: Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, December 2, 2009
The annual Robert F. Kennedy Award ceremony took place at the White House this year for the first time in its 28-year history. Also for the first time, the president of the United States was there to honor the awardees. This year’s winner was the group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), represented by Magodona Mahlangu and Jenni Williams. Since its founding six years ago, WOZA has campaigned against domestic violence and rape, for rebuilding their country’s crumbling health and education systems, and for ending government repression. Despite their commitment to nonviolence, WOZA activists have been routinely threatened, abducted, and beaten, and over 3,000 of its members have been detained or imprisoned.
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The FP top 100 global thinkers
By: Foreign Policy, December 2009
From the brains behind Iran’s Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Read on to see the 100 minds that mattered most in the year that was:
3. Zahra Rahnavard
10. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif
23. Vaclav Havel
Top of the list…

Top 10 citizen video posts 2009
By: Global Voices Online, December 2009
Videos on Global Voices are often a window on an unknown world. Citizens everywhere are using videos to help tell their stories in times of crisis, moments of beauty, or online campaigns to improve their lives. Check out some of our favorite video posts of 2009.
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Democracy deferred? A developmental approach to democracy assistance
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, November 24, 2009
Tara McKelvey suggests that the Obama administration is following a more “culturally sensitive” way of promoting democracy, in marked contrast to the Bush administration’s “cowboy” approach. It is a strategy that many democracy advocates may endorse, given the apparent absence of likely candidates for democratization, the low-hanging fruit that shed authoritarian rule during the Third Wave.
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Field notes on democracy: Listening to grasshoppers
By: Al Huebner, Pak Tea House, December 3, 2009
The essays in this new book by the brilliant Indian writer Arundhati Roy cover topics that range from the attack on the Indian Parliament to the Armenian genocide, and the terrorist attack on Mumbai to George Bush’s “triumphant” visit to India and Pakistan. But what runs through all of these essays is a critical look at democracy, as practiced in those countries that claim to be democracies.
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South Africa: The Sharpeville massacre – defeat or backfire?
By: Philippe Duhamel, New Tactics, November 19, 2009
In 1960, the apartheid system was being expanded by the South African government through a system of obligatory passes that even women now had to carry, or risk being arrested and charged. These new requirements were being challenged by a campaign of nonviolent defiance that was quickly gaining momentum.
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Eastern Burma ‘comparable’ to Darfur
By: Lawi Weng, Irrawaddy, October 29, 2009
The growing instability in eastern Burma from ongoing military conflict is forcing thousands of ethnic people to become internally displaced persons according to a press release from the Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC.  The statement said at least 75,000 people in eastern Burma were forced to leave their homes during the past year, meaning the number of IDPs in the area now exceeds half a million. TBBC compared the scale of displacement to that of Darfur in eastern Sudan.
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