Nonviolent action around the world – 8 December 2009 (Part 1)

Ethiopia: Killing the press to silence a nation
By: Jawar Mohammad, Ethiopian Current Affairs Forum, December 7, 2009
In the summer of 2008, I picked up a couple of newspapers the morning I returned to Finfinne. Among them was the Addis Neger. The quality of the paper; its fairness, the depth of research and the balance of views I was shocked as I flipped through the pages. From Dilla to Moyale, Ciro to Awaday, people took turns to read a week old copy of Addis Neger left in our car. This week what I feared happened. After months of incessant harassment and intimidation, the young groups of journalists were forced to close down the paper and flee the country.
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Ethiopian editors close paper and flee
By: The Guardian, December 7, 2009
One of Ethiopia’s best-read non-government weekly newspapers has shut down and three of its senior staff have fled the country. The editors of Addis Neger say they have faced a government campaign of intimidation and black propaganda. The closure of the Amharic-language newspaper, known for its lively discussion of political issues, comes as campaigning heats up in advance of next May’s parliamentary election.
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Uganda oil region threatens to boycott presidential elections
By: Nicholas Bariyo, Nasdaq, December 7, 2009
The Banyoro tribe, who occupy Uganda’s oil- rich region around Lake Albert, have threatened to boycott the country’s 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections, accusing the government of not resolving land ownership issues in the region, local leaders said over the weekend. In a statement, Kyabangi Musoke, who heads the Mubende Banyoro committee, a pressure group from the region, said that the Banyoro had given the government one month to table an amendment bill in parliament to protect the land ownership and political rights of the indigenous Banyoro against the influx of immigrants from the rest of the country.
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Somalis stage rare protest condemning deadly attack
By: Mail & Guardian Online, December 5, 2009
Hundreds of Somalis held a rare street protest after Friday prayers to condemn a suicide bombing at a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu in which at least 23 people were killed. The demonstration took place in the central town of Dhusamareb, close to the Ethiopian border, and was organised by Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, a moderate Sufi organisation opposed to hardline Islamists. “Today we are here to show solidarity with the innocent civilians killed in Mogadishu yesterday,” a spokesperson for the group, Sheikh Abdullahi Abdurahman Abu Yusuf, told the demonstrators.
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Uganda: Ensure accountability for election violence
By: Human Rights Watch, December 4, 2009
Uganda’s government should reform the country’s election laws to improve accountability for election-related crimes and reduce the risk of violence in the upcoming 2011 elections, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Politically motivated violence, intimidation, and bribery of voters have marred previous national elections in Uganda, but accountability for such crimes has been very weak.
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View the report…


Behind bars in Honduras: An interview with a women’s rights leader before the ‘free’ election
By: Tamar Sharabi, Upsidedown World, December 3, 2009
Merlin Eguigure helped organize an event on Nov. 25 for the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The next day while leaving a restaurant in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, members of COBRA, the special police force, ambushed her. The District Attorney’s office charged her with ‘property damage’, but her case is still under investigation, and other charges can still be added. Her real crime is being a part of the “Movement of Women for Peace Visitacion Padilla” and a ‘Feminist in Resistance,’ and for speaking out against the coup regime that took power on June 28.
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Cuban dissident groups unite, decry repression
By: AP, December 4, 2009
Activists from 32 little-known organizations opposed to Cuba’s communist government issued a call for an end to social repression on the island at a Thursday gathering in the home of a prominent human rights activist. The event took place in the western Havana home of internationally known activist Francisco Chaviano, a veteran Cuban dissident who was released in 2007 after 13 years in prison.
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Cuba: Dissident, 80, hurt in police crackdown
By: Miami Herald, December 2, 2009
Alfredo Guillaume, an 80-year-old dissident, says he was beaten by a member of the government’s rapid response brigade last weekend during an attack on Reinaldo Escobar, husband of blogger Yoani Sánchez, at a university book fair in Havana’s Vedado district. Guillaume said he was hit in the ribs and chest when he and others tried to protect Escobar. A police agent visited Guillame the following day at his home and told the dissident that he was too old to be involved in street demonstrations against the government.
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US: Celebrating Mario Savio
By: Eric Stoner, Waging Nonviolence, December 4, 2009
Forty-five years ago this week, Mario Savio – a 21-year-old student at Berkeley and leader of the Free Speech Movement – gave a speech before a massive sit-in on the steps of Sproul Hall that would go down in history. As an intriguing article in In These Times explains: “The movement was a protest against the university’s clampdown on political speechmaking and recruiting for civil rights activism on campus. President Clark Kerr and various bureaucratic intermediaries disdained the movement as a disruption of the modern “multiversity” (Kerr’s own term) as a smooth-running, quasi-corporate knowledge factory.”
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US: Decline in elite support for democracy assistance
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, December 4, 2009
A new poll by the US-based Council on Foreign Relations suggests that supporting democracy has fallen out of favor with the US foreign policy elite. Only 10% of CFR members believe promoting democracy in other nations should be a U.S. foreign policy priority, down from 44% in September 2001, shortly before 9/11. More insular attitudes are also evident in falling support for defending human rights (down 22 percentage points), strengthening the United Nations (19 points) and improving living standards in developing countries (13 points).
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US: Undocumented immigrant stages hunger strike at White House
By: New America Media, December 2, 2009
An undocumented Mexican immigrant, who has been living in the United States for 20 years, recently began a hunger strike in front of the White House, calling for immigration reform, reports El Diario La Prensa. Already on his fifth day, the hunger striker is urging President Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform by the end of the year, as he’d promised. The immigrant said he intends to organize other undocumented workers and make a “census,” so these workers are taken into account in the official 2010 Census.
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Bolivia’s Evo Morales easily tops challenger
By: Frank Bajak, Miami Herald, December 7, 2009
President Evo Morales appeared headed to easy re-election Sunday, with a strong mandate for further revolutionary change on behalf of Bolivia’s long-suppressed indigenous majority. Opponents say they fear Morales will use a consolidation of power not just to eradicate racially based economic inequalities but also to trample human rights and deepen state control of the economy.
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Chile: The people and the land
By: The Economist, December 5, 2009
Some 600,000 of Chile’s 15m people are Mapuches. Three-fifths of them now live in the cities rather than their traditional rural communities. But all are united in demanding the restitution of their former lands-for them, a matter of religious significance as well as custom. In their own, still widely spoken, language, Mapuche means “people of the land”. To be eligible for land, indigenous communities normally must show that title was granted to them in the late 19th century, when the south of Chile was finally subdued after over three centuries of Mapuche resistance.
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Turkey: Jailing Kurdish children to curb dissent
By: Daan Bauwens, Human Rights Tribune, December 7, 2009
Turkey is signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but that does not stop minors in the country’s Kurdish dominated eastern and southeastern regions from ending up with stiff jail sentences. In fact, after amendments were recently made to the country’s anti-terror law, it is possible to charges children as terrorists and put them away for up to 50 years in jail. According to official figures, there are currently 2,622 minors serving time in Turkish prisons.
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Russia: Interview with activist Anatoly Karlin – Sublime Oblivion
By: Andy, Siberian Light, December 7, 2009
Those of you with long memories will remember the series of interviews I did with top Russia bloggers, back in early 2007. Well, after a very long hiatus, I’ve decided it’s time to resurrect the series again – and who better to start with than Anatoly Karlin of Sublime Oblivion. Previously blogging at Da Russophile, Anatoly has made quite a mark for himself in quite a short space of time.
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Romania opposition alleges fraud in presidential poll
By: BBC News, December 7, 2009
Romania’s opposition Social Democrat party says Sunday’s presidential election was rigged and plans to contest the result. Official results showed incumbent President Traian Basescu with a winning margin of less than 1%.
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Georgia: Differing media challenges to President Mikheil Saakashvili
By: Sarah Marcus, The Telegraph, December 5, 2009
Two interesting media stories – President Saakashvili has received a letter from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers and the World Editors Forum urging him to ensure thorough investigation and saying “We are seriously concerned that Georgian security services would seek to blackmail a journalist and interfere in editorial freedom. Such tactics are reminiscent of the Soviet-era KGB and have no place in a modern democracy”. And the second story is that the man who originally made Saakashvili king and who has since become one of his most outspoken critics is taking on a new project which some think could seriously undermine the President’s hold on power. He told Eurasianet he will ‘cover everything that is happening in Georgia and beyond and if people want to revolt based on what they see, that is their right’.
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Belarusian youth activists speak out
By: Amnesty International, November 27, 2009
Five Belarusian youth activists sentenced to ‘restricted freedom’ for attending a peaceful protest have told Amnesty International how they were targeted by the authorities. Post your questions to the activists and your thoughts on the situation in Belarus here. They will join the debate and respond to your comments.
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1989: Reagan didn’t end the Cold War – leftist intellectuals did
By: Stephen Zunes, AlterNet, November 20, 2009
The 20th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia was one of the most impressive civil insurrections in history. It was not the military might of NATO, but the power of nonviolent action by ordinary citizens which brought down the system. The popular uprising against the repressive system that had ruled their country for much of the previous four decades — along with comparable movements, which came to the fore that year in Poland, Hungary and East Germany — marks a great triumph of the human spirit.
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Hunger striking Western Saharan activist in dire condition
By: Democracy Now, December 7, 2009
The Western Saharan human rights activist Aminatou Haidar is risking death as she continues a hunger strike over Morocco’s refusal to allow her to return to her desert homeland. On Friday, Spain and Morocco reached a deal for Haidar’s return, but Moroccan officials reneged shortly before her plane was due to leave. The Spanish government has reportedly backed off its pressure on the Moroccan government and is now preparing to force-feed Haidar.
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View Democracy Now’s coverage of Aminatou Haidar’s case…

Latest Iran protests show a resilient opposition
By: Robin Wright, Time Magazine, December 7, 2009
A new round of campus protests in Iran on Monday served up a sharp reminder that there’s plenty of life left in the opposition Green Movement. Six months after the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set off an unprecedented wave of political turmoil in the Islamic Republic, the regime was clearly taking no chances: Thousands of police, Revolutionary Guards troops and religious vigilantes closed off universities and fired tear gas at student marchers in Tehran, as the government cut off cell phone and internet access and forbade reporters from covering opposition demonstrations timed to coincide with the official observance of National Students Day.
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Iran: Video footage of Tehran protests surfaces
By: LA Times, December 7, 2009
Video posted to the Internet shows protests in Tehran between students and riot-gear-clad security forces armed with tear gas as Iran marks its National Student Day. People posting to social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook described a heavy buildup of security forces in the streets of Tehran in the early morning hours, and students said pro-government Basiji militiamen had entered university campuses to prevent protests from breaking out.
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Iran opposition renews protests, clashes with police
By: Parisa Hafezi, Reuters, December 7, 2009
The security forces fired shots into the air as they clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi at a state rally marking the killing of three students under the former Shah, the reformist website Mowjcamp said. “Security forces are beating demonstrators, men and women. Some of them are injured and bleeding,” said one witness in Tehran’s central Haft-e Tir square.
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Iran police crack down on student protesters
By: Thomas Erdbrink, Washington Post, December 7, 2009
Iranian security forces and paramilitary groups clashed with anti-government protesters in central Tehran on Monday, witnesses said, wielding batons, firing tear gas and stunning people with electrical batons to disperse crowds outside Tehran University. Although security forces arrested dozens of demonstrators, crowds on the streets appeared to be growing, witnesses said.
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Watch the video…

Iranian student protesters clash with police
By: Nazila Fathi and Robert Worth, NY Times, December 7, 2009
Thousands of student protesters gathered at universities in Tehran and other cities across Iran on Monday, chanting anti-government slogans and fighting with the police in the most violent street protests since the summer. The main entrance to Tehran University was sealed off by security forces, while clashes broke out between protesters and tens of thousands of Basij militia in squares around the city, witnesses and opposition Web sites reported. Protests erupted at universities throughout the country, including Kerman, Mashad, Isfahan and Hamdean. The opposition staged a street rally in Shiraz.
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How Iran’s opposition inverts old slogans
By: BBC, November 7, 2009
Olivia Cornes navigates some of the opposition chants heard in Iran since June’s disputed presidential elections, with the help of and protesters themselves. The waves of street chanting among anti-regime protesters are spontaneous but many are not new. Slogans that Iranians used 30 years ago to call for an end to the Shah’s regime are now thrown back at the Islamic regime which replaced it.
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Mothers arrested before opposition rally in Iran
By: Nazila Fathi, NY Times, December 6, 2009
Ahead of a planned opposition rally on Monday, Iran tightened security and arrested over 20 mothers who were mourning children killed in the unrest that has broken out since the disputed June 12 elections. The mothers took part in an antigovernment protest in Leleh Park in central Tehran every Saturday since the death in June of Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, whose shooting became a symbol of the government’s violent repression. The rally had been attacked by the police before, but Saturday was the first time the mothers were arrested.
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Iran bans foreign media cover as student rally nears
By: Iran Focus, December 6, 2009
Iran on Saturday banned foreign media from reporting on a student rally next week that authorities fear could turn into a new round of protests against June’s disputed presidential election. “All permits issued for foreign media to cover news in Tehran have been revoked from December 7 to December 9,” the Culture Ministry’s foreign press department said on Saturday in an SMS text message sent to journalists, photographers and cameramen working for foreign media in Iran.
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Iran’s voice will be heard
By: Josh Shahryar, Huffington Post, December 6, 2009
While the Iranian community abroad certainly has an interest in the affairs of Iran, and its participation could be seen as a sign of patriotism — the involvement of non-Iranians gives a bystander new hope about the future prospects of mankind. Surprisingly enough, few of these individuals are professional human rights activists, journalists or political junkies. What unites them is greater than any occupation. They come from different countries, speak different languages and their skin is beautiful shades of the same color — the color of humanity. That is the banner under which they have united.
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Iranian leader blames West for student demonstrations
By: South Africa News, December 6, 2009
The Iranian Supreme Leader has blamed Western attitudes for student protests in the country. The Ayatollah has stated that propaganda from the US and Britain has led to the existence of conflict inside Iran. Describing the countries as “arrogant” and “enemies of Iran,” he singled out Americans as being at the top of Iran’s list of enemies but the British as “the most dreadful of those enemies.”
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Egypt: Mubarak’s virtual enemies
By: Jerusalem Post, December 6, 2009
At 8 p.m. on October 21, approximately 60 Egyptian policemen surrounded the Nour Center in the Bab el-Shairia neighborhood of downtown Cairo. This event was to be the founding conference of Poets Against Succession, a subgroup of Egyptians Against Succession, a campaign launched one week prior by Ayman Nour, a leading opposition figure, to prevent the transfer of power from President Hosni Mubarak to his son Gamal. Though both father and son officially deny the rumors, there is widespread speculation that the president is “grooming” his son for leadership after three long decades in power.
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Egypt detains ten senior Brotherhood members
By: Daily News Egypt, December 6, 2009
Egyptian authorities have detained 10 senior members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, the group’s secretary general told AFP on Sunday. The officials were arrested in the Nile Delta province of Kafr El-Sheikh on Saturday during a meeting, Mahmoud Ezzat said, adding authorities provided no reason for the arrests. “Detentions in Egypt are like death, they can happen at anytime to anyone and no one knows why,” Ezzat said. Saturday’s arrests were “a continuation of the same politics that infringe on the rights of all citizens. Arrests are arbitrary and release orders are arbitrary.
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Western Sahara and the case of Aminatou Haidar: The other occupation
By: Stephen Zunes, AlterNet, December 5, 2009
Aminatou Haidar, a nonviolent activist from Western Sahara and a key leader in her nation’s struggle against the 34-year-old U.S.-backed Moroccan occupation of her country, has been forced into exile by Moroccan authorities. Her arrest and expulsion is part of a broader Moroccan crackdown that appears to have received the endorsement of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rather than joining Amnesty International and other human rights groups in condemning the increase in the already-severe repression in the occupied territory during her visit to Morocco early this month, she instead praised the government’s human rights record.
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A hunger for justice: The perilous journey of a modern day Gandhi
By: Barbra Becker, Huffington Post, December 3, 2009
Say the words “hunger strike” and many will recall images of an emaciated Mahatma Gandhi enduring several famous fasts to protest British rule of India. A month ago, I had the good fortune of spending a week at the side of the often called “Sahrawi Gandhi,” Aminatou Haidar. And while we both call ourselves human rights activists, our day to day work is conditioned entirely by our life experiences…
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Tajik activist surprised at Kyrgyz entry ban
By: RFE, December 4, 2009
Tajik human rights activist Nigina Bakhrieva says the decision by Kyrgyz officials to ban her from entering Kyrgyzstan was a great surprise, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports. Bakhrieva told RFE/RL that border guards at Bishkek’s Manas Airport did not allow her to enter the country on December 2 when she arrived and told her she cannot enter Kyrgyzstan until 2019. No explanations for the refusal were given. Bakhrieva says she was invited by the Kyrgyz nongovernmental organization Voice of Liberty to take part in training for employees in the Kyrgyz ombudsman’s office.
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