Nonviolent action around the world – 15 December 2009 (Part 1)

Western Sahara: UN chief voices concern over Saharawi activist
By: All Africa, December 14, 2009
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has held talks with the Foreign Minister of Morocco to voice his “grave” concern over an independence activist from Western Sahara who has been on hunger strike since last month. Aminatou Haidar began her protest at the airport at Lanzarote, on Spain’s Canary Islands, after being denied entry into her native Western Sahara in mid-November.
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Morocco says hunger strike is an ‘Algerian plot’
By: AP, December 14, 2009
Morocco on Monday charged that Aminatou Haidar, a Sahrawi activist on hunger strike in Spain’s Canary Islands, is part of a “systematic, methodical plot devised by Algeria.” Haidar, 42, has been on hunger strike for almost a month on Lanzarote, after being refused entry to the Western Sahara, which is territory occupied by and claimed by Morocco. Algeria has long been an ally of the Polisario Front independence movement, which emerged in the Western Sahara as Spanish settlers withdrew in 1975 and Morocco annexed the territory.
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Iran makes arrests over destroyed Ayatollah photo
By: Ali Akbar Dareini, Huffington Post, December 14, 2009
Iranian authorities have arrested several people accused of destroying photos of the Islamic Republic’s revered founder and the current supreme leader at student demonstrations, state media reported Monday. Tehran’s prosecutor promised to show “no mercy” to those responsible, but the news reports carrying his remarks gave no details on who was arrested.
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Burning of Ayatollah Khomeini’s picture sparks uproar in Iran
By: Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, December 14, 2009
Political turmoil built Sunday over the burning of an image of Iran’s revolutionary founder, which was aired, in a controversial move, on state television. Accusations that the incident was carried out by anti-government demonstrators sparked protests as well as threats against reformist leaders. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday said reformist politicians and anti-government demonstrators had defiled the image of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, during National Students Day protests last week.
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Iranian student writes of hope, fear over protest
By: AP, December 14, 2009
On Dec. 7, tens of thousands of students marched at universities across Iran, in the most significant anti-government protests in the country for months. The Associated Press asked a 20-year-old philosophy undergraduate at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabei University to record his thoughts and experiences in a diary before, during and after the protests. He provided the AP the diary on condition of anonymity, because some of his friends have been arrested or suspended for contacting the foreign media…
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Waving the flaming photo in Iran
By: Andrew Sprung, The Daily Dish, December 13, 2009
The latest political football in Iran is the alleged burning of the image of Ayatollah Khomeini during the student protests on December 7. From the AP today:  Hundreds of students at Tehran University renewed anti-government protests for a second week on Sunday, accusing authorities of fabricating images of demonstrators burning photos of the Islamic Republic’s revered founder. Students moved to the forefront of opposition on the streets with massive protests last week. They say authorities are using the images of burning photos as a pretext to crack down on their protests, which have helped revitalize the pro-reform movement.
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Defiling of pictures of Khomeini divides Iran
By: Michael Slackman, NY Times, December 13, 2009
Iran’s six-month-old political crisis flared up again on Sunday as the hard-line leadership admonished protesters for damaging pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and as the opposition countered that the charges were fabricated to justify another aggressive crackdown. As hundreds of students protested Sunday within the walled compound of Tehran University, riot police officers surrounded the campus, raising the prospect of yet another violent confrontation between the authorities and protesters in this increasingly intractable conflict.
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Iran’s Khamenei warns opposition leaders
By: AP, December 13, 2009
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned opposition leaders on Sunday to distance themselves from protesters whom he accused of acting “against Islam.” “Those who shout slogans in the name of these people (opposition leaders), hoist their pictures and speak of them with respect are in a point which is the exact opposite of Imam (founder of the revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini), revolution and Islam,” Khamenei said on state television. “When you see this, step aside,” he said to opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, describing them as his “former brothers.”
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West Bank: Demonstrators to protest arrest of prominent grassroots activist
By: International Solidarty Movement, December 13, 2009
A demonstration will be held outside Jelemeh Prison in Haifa at 12pm, Monday 14 December 2009, to protest the arrest of prominent grassroots Palestinian activist Wa’el Al Faqeeh Abu As Sabe. Al Faqeeh, renowned throughout the Nablus region for his tireless campaigning and non-violent action against the Israeli occupation, was kidnapped from his home by Israeli Occupation Forces in the night of Tuesday, 8 December.
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Egypt opposition movement hits out at Mubarak
By: AP, December 13, 2009
Five years after its first demonstration, the Kifaya opposition movement hit the streets once more on Saturday to protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981.
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Are revolutionary groups beginning to develop in Iran’s revolutionary situation?
By: Hussein Ibish, Ibishblog, December 12, 2009
Iranian internal politics appear to have arrived at a crucial turning point that has been inevitable since the election fraud and protests this summer. At the time, I wrote that the regime had given the population a straightforward choice: accept our repression or enter into a revolutionary movement with uncertain consequences. It’s a high-stakes gamble, but thus far it seems to have worked. The problem, as I wrote at the time, is that the regime forced a revolutionary situation in what was otherwise essentially a rights movement…
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Iran: Men in hijab to support jailed student
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices Online, December 12, 2009
Hundreds of Iranian men have dressed as women in Hijab to support Majid Tavakoli, a student activist who was arrested on December 7. Iranian authorities claim Mr. Tavakoli was dressed as a woman to escape after delivering a speech in Tehran on Student Day. However, human rights activists in Iran have also published a report from an eyewitness saying: “All the pictures published by the state media are false and a clear use of immoral means against student and civil activists in Iran.” Hundreds of Iranian men are now dressed as woman in their FaceBook profiles…
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Iranian women campaign to end discriminatory laws against them
By: Judith Latham, VOA, December 11, 2009
Women are no longer allowed to wear make-up on Iranian television. “It’s illegal and against Shari’a law,” the head of Iranian state television, Ezatollah Zarghami, was quoted in the Iranian media last week. However, Iranian women are fighting back against what they see as unjust laws that make them second-class citizens. Journalist Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani is one of many activists trying to eliminate discrimination against women in Iran. She is under threat of imprisonment in Iran for her role as a founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign – which not only wants to change those laws, but also seeks to increase awareness of the needs and priorities of women in Iranian society.
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West Bank: Demonstration in Bilin 12/11/09
By: Friends of Freedom and Justice, December 11, 2009
Today in Bilin Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists joined together for yet another nonviolent protest against the apartheid wall and Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Demonstrators of all ages holding signs and Palestinian flags marched to the apartheid fence (also referred to as a wall) where they were met with sound bombs and tear gas. Dozens suffered from severe tear gas inhalation. Today, activists managed to pull open the yellow gate next to the fence, after cutting through the surrounding barbed wire. This gate is regularly used by the army to invade and harass the people of Bilin.
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Moroccan blogger Bashir Hazem arrested
By: Jillian York, Global Voices Online, December 11, 2009
Moroccan blogger Bashir Hazem was arrested on December 8, 2009 following a protest in Tarjijt, during which students clashed with security forces, after posting a press release about the clash on his blog.  He has been interrogated about his blogging, specifically his most recent post, which contained the signatures of a committee of arrested students. Hazem was detained and put in solitary confinement for a period of time, then rejoined the other detainees in the prison. Hazem is a 26-year-old student of literature.
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The crucial role of universities in Iran’s Green Movement
By: Farzin Vahdat, Gozaar, December 10, 2009
The university constitutes a very significant feature of the modern world. The university is founded on the principle that human beings, through their own knowledge and on the basis of their inborn intellectual autonomy, are capable of achievements in the modern natural and human sciences. Consequently, the most important fruit of the university is that humans could gain control of nature and achieve the ability and the right to have an impact in the social and political spheres. For this reason, in many parts of the world and in many instances, including Iran, the university has initiated and/or occupied the position of leadership of scientific, social and political movements.
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Jordan described as a “police state”
By: Syrica Comment, December 6, 2009
“Jordan is a model that works, whether we like it or not,” explains Rami Khouri. He is probably right and this is in the face of the king’s recent dissolution of parliament. Democracy has few real proponents in the Middle East today. Laith Shubeilat, a moderate Islamist, described Jordan as a police state in which no real opposition was permitted. “I am an Islamist, but I have never had a platform relating to religion, only one asking for liberties, democracy,” he said, accusing the West of hypocrisy in backing a “dictatorship”. Both Khouri’s and Shubeilat’s conclusions say a lot about the present state of the Middle East.
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Iran: Unprecedented attack on opposition leaders
By: Youtube, December 2009
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Egypt: The Cairo conundrum
By: Shadi Hamid, Democracy Journal, December 2009
In his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, President Barack Obama dramatically raised expectations for U.S. policy in the Middle East, among Americans and Muslims both.  It was a historic address, as the President threatened to do precisely what many progressives had long hoped for: reorient American foreign policy away from the sometimes tragic mistakes of the past, whether the Iraq war or even the still-resonant 1953 coup in Iran. And it seemed only natural that Egypt, a land of great potential but deep social and political problems, would be Obama’s testing ground.
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West Papua: For the sake of a flag
By: Indonesian Human Right Committe, December 14, 2009
A small group of Aucklanders assembled on December 1st to raise the flag of West Papua. The blue and white stripes and white ‘morning star’ on red background flew aloft in Queen St, while most passing pedestrians looked bemused. Although West Papua is just across the artificial border from Papua New Guinea and its people like their neighbours are Melanesian few New Zealanders know much of its history or culture.
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Uganda: Culturally sanctioned brutality banned
By: All Africa, December 14, 2009
It is a remarkable moment for anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaigners and we have our lawmakers to thank for it. On Thursday, Parliament passed a new law that outlaws and criminalises the gruesome practice. This law is not just a victory for gender rights activists; it will, if implemented, grant a much-needed freedom for numerous young women from undergoing this culturally sanctioned brutality.
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Niger: Thousands protest against president
By: Kingsley Kobo, Africa News, December 14, 2009
Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Niamey, Niger’s capital on Sunday calling for the resignation of President Mamadou Tandja amid controversies over his attempts to remain in power. Niger has been in political impasse since the August 4 referendum that now allows Tandja to stay in power until 2012 before fresh elections which he can still run. The demonstration was organised by the Coordination of Democratic Forces for the Republic (CFDR), a coalition of political parties, human rights and labour organisations.
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Zimbabwe:  In the dock for ‘insulting’ Mugabe
By: All Africa, December 12, 2009
A 62-year-old man was last week taken to court for saying that ageing President Robert Mugabe “has failed and must go”. The state says Rashidu Omar also castigated the land reform exercise, blaming it for food shortages that have plagued the nation. Omar appeared before magistrate Stanford Mambanje facing charges of insulting the President and his Office. He has been remanded out of custody to January 6 next year.
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Kenya: It’s our money. Where’s it gone?
By: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, December 2009
Watch the video for an anti-corruption campaign launched in Kenya…
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US: Clinton defends human rights approach
By: Mark Lander, NY Times, December 14,2009
The Obama administration on Monday laid out a human rights agenda that recognized the limits of American authority: emphasizing the need for change within countries, defending engagement with adversaries like Myanmar and Iran and asserting that differences with big countries like China and Russia are best hashed out behind closed doors.
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US: Pledge on Camera
By: Chris Michael, The Hub, December 3, 2009
On November 9th, over 800 youth anti-genocide leaders from around the United States gathered in Washington D.C. to lobby their Senators and Representatives – carrying videos made especially for them. It was the largest genocide prevention lobby day in U.S. history, and an unprecedented day in video advocacy. This quick video report-back from the lobby day in D.C. features student responses from our partner organization STAND and how we ushered in a new era of video advocacy with the Pledge on Camera campaign. Additionally, below you can also watch a few of the 50 unique, personalized and innovatiive videos that student activists made for their Senators.
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Cuba: Fighting blogs with blogs
By: Juan Tamayo, Miami Herald, December 13, 2009
Cuba is counter-attacking its cyber-foes with government backers calling them mercenaries and CIA agents, but sometimes admitting it’s difficult to fight Internet critics like well-known blogger Yoani Sánchez. “There must be a defense, but how?” wrote one government supporter on “If you them, you validate them. If you ignore them, you confirm them. If they are repressed, they are empowered. And if they are not repressed, they are also empowered.”
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Protesters mark Human Rights Day in Cuba
By: David Ariosto, CNN, December 11, 2009
A few hundred pro-government demonstrators swarmed Havana’s streets on Thursday, encircling a small group of female protesters marching in support of International Human Rights Day. “This is an intolerant, totalitarian government,” Cuban dissident Laura Pollan told CNN from her home, where the march began. In a seemingly coordinated event, the women waited for journalists and embassy diplomats to gather outside Pollan’s home in Old Havana before marching.
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Venezuela: Hundreds of students protest fatal shooting
By: University World News, December 13, 2009
Hundreds of university students held protests in Venezuela on Wednesday to condemn the fatal shooting of an undergraduate during a demonstration earlier this week, reports Fox News. Hundreds of protesters gathered in a Caracas plaza chanting “No to violence! No to impunity!” They marched through the streets and onto a highway, blocking traffic.
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