Nonviolent action around the world – 09 October 2009 (Part 2)

October 9, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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SOUTH AMERICA
Chavez foes fear Venezuela law on civilian militia
By: Taiwan News, October 8, 2009
Opponents of President Hugo Chavez voiced concerns Wednesday that a newly approved law legalizing armed civilian militias to work with the military could be used to crack down on opposition protests. Pro-Chavez lawmakers deny the government plans to use the militias to break up street protests, saying the armed groups would be deployed only if Chavez declared martial law amid widespread political upheaval or natural disasters.
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Venezuela bans “Family Guy”- but “Baywatch” is ok
By: Charlie Devereux, Huffington Post, October 6, 2009
Stewie Griffin, the animated character from the hit cartoon “Family Guy,” has caused offense here in Venezuela by singing a ditty lauding marijuana’s restorative properties. El Aissami blamed U.S. drug consumption for fueling Venezuela’s narco-trafficking market and suggested that “adult” cartoons such as “Family Guy” were mouthpieces for the U.S. government’s tolerant attitude toward drugs. “Family Guy” is not the first cartoon to receive short shrift from authorities in Venezuela.
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Ecuador’s Shuar gird for conflict after protest
By: Jeanneth Valdivieso, Miami Herald, October 1, 2009
Several hundred Shuar Indians wearing black war paint and toting wooden spears on Thursday reinforced a highway blockade that police failed to break up earlier in a bloody melee that left one Indian dead and at least 40 police injured. Police pulled out of the southeastern jungle region on orders from leftist President Rafael Correa, who is in an intensifying dispute with indigenous groups that say proposed legislation would allow mining on their lands without their consent and lead to the privatization of water.
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TOP
 

EUROPE
The Nobel Peace Prize
By: The Norwegian Nobel Committee, October 9, 2009
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.
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The Berlin Wall – what really made it fall
By: Elizabeth Pond, Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2009
Contrary to popular lore, the Berlin Wall did not fall on Nov. 9, 1989. Nor did it fall in Berlin. It fell on Oct. 9, 120 miles away, in the city of Leipzig. First, civil courage – a rare quality in German history – had to dissolve the four-decade-old mental wall of East German fear. Only then could the cement wall collapse in Berlin. Here’s how it happened: When Valentine Kosch set out to join the Monday peace march in Leipzig on Oct. 9, she expected to be shot by the massed East German security forces…
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Russia’s war on words
By: K. Anthony Appiah, Washington Post, October 7, 2009
Three years ago today Anna Politkovskaya, a courageous journalist who exposed appalling human rights offenses in Chechnya, was shot five times as she entered her Moscow apartment building. She was not the first Russian journalist to be slain for performing the invaluable function of bringing buried truths to light. Sadly, there have been, and will be, more murders. And we all pay the price. Westerners were inclined to think during the Cold War that a democratic Russia would be better for Russians and for us. Yet 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, hopes for genuine democracy in Russia remain unrealized.
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Chechnya: President Kadyrov libel trial reveals danger faced by human rights activists
By: Canada News, October 7, 2009
The information that came to light during a trial initiated by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov against human rights activist Oleg Orlov has served to highlight the dangers faced by human rights activists working on Chechnya, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. “The failure of the authorities to respect the work of independent human rights organizations and to recognize human rights organizations as an integral part of a functioning society has placed the lives of human rights activists at risk and has created a climate of fear,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.
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Turkish police break up protests
By: Al Jazeera, October 7, 2009
Turkish police have fired tear gas and used water cannon for a second day to break up protests against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, witnesses say. Between 100 and 200 protesters, mainly from Turkish unions and leftist political parties, clashed on Wednesday with riot police a few hundred meters from the IMF-World Bank semi-annual meetings on the global economy. Similar scenes were witnessed on Tuesday when the meetings began. Police used water cannons and tear gas to as protesters smashed windows of a McDonald’s fast food restaurant and several banks in Istanbul.
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Turkey: IMF meeting in Istanbul marked by police-protester confrontation
By: Jonathan Lewis, Eurasia Net, October 6, 2009  
The Tsarist-era Russian anarchist gadflies Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin are widely credited with coming up with the slogan “anarchy is the mother of order.” But on October 6, protesters mainly demonstrated that anarchy is the progenitor of destruction. An estimated 6,000 Turks gathered near central Taksim Square in Istanbul to protest the start of the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting. Most of the protesters — including representatives of left-leaning political parties and trade unions — were peaceable.
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“European Belarus” activist arrested for leaflets about trade union rally
By: Chapter 97, October 6, 2009
The Belarusian Trade Union of Electronics Industry Workers and the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions applied to the Minsk city executive committee for holding a rally in Minsk on October 7. Uladzimir Lemesh, an activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, was detained on Friday of October 2 when he was handing out leaflets “For Dignified Labour” near bike and bicycle plant in Minsk, the website f-fight.org reports. The leaflets contained information about the trade union rally to be held on October 7.
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Turkey: Violating online free speech
By: Bhumika Ghimire, Global Voices, October 5, 2009
Turkey, a modern democracy which takes pride in staying secular despite intense pressure from Islamic fundamentalists, unfortunately is actively engaged in curtailing online free speech. Since September 18,2009 MySpace, a popular social networking site and Last FM-where you can listen to free music, has been blocked in the country for alleged copyright and intellectual property right violations. Decision to block MySpace is not first step in Turkey’s decision to police the internet.
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UK: Five held in coal depot protest
By: BBC News, October 5, 2009
Five environmental campaigners have been arrested after a protest at a coal loading depot in South Lanarkshire. About 10 people were involved in a blockade of the Ravenstruther terminal, near Lanark, from 0630 BST on Monday. They are opposed to five open cast coal mines in the area and 13 new mines due to open in Scotland.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Iraq releases Iranian dissidents
By: BBC News, October 7, 2009
A group of 36 Iranian opposition members have been freed after nearly three months in custody in Iraq. The men were returned to Camp Ashraf in northern Iraq, where more than 3,000 People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) members have been confined since 2003. A spokeswoman for the group told the BBC they had been tortured in custody and were now being treated in hospital. The men were detained by Iraqi police in July during a raid on the camp in which seven PMOI members were killed.
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West Bank: Protest poetry
By: Alexa Bryn, Tablet, October 7, 2009
The arrival in English of a new anthology by poets opposed to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, With an Iron Pen: Twenty Years of Hebrew Protest Poetry, illuminates the diversity of Israel’s literary left-and the fact that its writing is done not only in prose. The Israeli poet and translator Rachel Tzvia Back first discovered the Hebrew edition of the anthology three years ago, and was surprised it had yet to reach English readers. Back decided to edit and translate the anthology into English but “encountered closed door after closed door” from American publishers.
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Gaza: Hamas bans women from riding motorbikes
By: Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, October 7, 2009
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has banned women in Gaza from riding on motorbikes. The ban, posted on the movement’s interior ministry website, said it sought “to preserve citizen safety and the stability of Palestinian society’s customs and traditions”. Given that few women ride on motorbikes in Gaza the proclamation seems unlikely to have much effect, but it raises concerns that a new Islamisation campaign is under way.
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Campaign member Jelveh Javaheri receives six month sentence
By: Women’s Learning Partnership, October 5, 2009
One Million Signatures campaign activist Jelveh Javaheri has been issued a six month prison sentence by Iran’s Revolutionary Courts for her participation in a peaceful protest on June 12, 2008. Ms. Javaheri has been targeted for arrest and harassment on numerous occasions as a result of her work as a women’s rights activist and journalist, most recently on May 1, 2009 for taking part in a demonstration marking International Workers Day, for which she spent over one month in prison, including sixteen days in solitary confinement.
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Egypt: Protest at Azhar over Aqsa Mosque raid
By: A-R Hussein and Y. Saleh, Daily News Egypt, October 2, 2009
Protestors gathered at Al-Azhar Mosque after the Friday noon prayers to denounce the events at Al-Aqsa Mosque last Sunday when Israeli protestors attempted to storm it on Yom Kippur. Security forces had managed to prevent many of the protestors from reaching Al-Azhar in the first place and set up a tight security cordon in the area. However, those who were inside the mosque did come out after the prayers were finished to show their solidarity with Al-Aqsa.
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SOUTH ASIA/CENTRAL ASIA
Nepal’s Tibetans squeezed as China flexes muscles
By: Claire Cozens, AFP, October 7, 2009
As Beijing marked the 60th anniversary of Communist rule last week, police in Nepal quietly rounded up dozens of Tibetan exiles they said were suspected of planning to hold anti-China protests here. The pre-emptive arrests in early morning raids across the capital Kathmandu were the latest sign of an increasingly hard-line approach by Nepalese authorities to the country’s Tibetan population.
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Uzbekistan: Officials forcing entertainers to sing praises to the government – or else
By: Eurasia Net, October 6, 2009
As it struggles to keep a lid on political dissent while also trying to keep the wheels from coming off the economy, the government of Uzbekistan is co-opting the country’s entertainment industry. Local show-biz personalities are being forced to conform to the state’s wishes, and those who don’t get with the program are having the plugs pulled on their careers. The experience of Yulduz Usmanova, dubbed Uzbekistan’s “Madonna,” highlights the extent of Uzbek government meddling in show business.
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SOUTHEAST ASIA
Burmese-American to get Suu Kyi Lawyers
By: CBS News, October 7, 2009
Two lawyers for detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have agreed to defend a Myanmar-born American jailed for allegedly planning to incite unrest in the military-run country, the lawyers said Saturday. Attorney Nyan Win said he and fellow lawyer Kyi Win were approached by the U.S. Embassy to represent Kyaw Zaw Lwin, who has been in prison since being arrested Sept. 3 on arrival at Yangon airport.
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Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Burmese government minister
By: VOA, October 7, 2009
Detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi held talks with a Burmese government official Wednesday, the second time in less than a week. Aung San Suu Kyi met with the military government’s official liaison with the country’s opposition, labor minister Aung Kyi, for 30 minutes at a government state house in Rangoon. Details of the talks were not immediately known. On Saturday, the pair met for the first time since January 2008. Her lawyer Nyan Win says the talks were likely to have centered on how to get sanctions against military-ruled Burma lifted.
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Vietnam democracy activist jailed
By: BBC News, October 7, 2009
A court in Vietnam has sentenced a man to three years in prison for hanging a banner over a bridge in Hanoi which called for multi-party democracy. Vu Hung is one of a several pro-democracy activists who were arrested last year, accused of spreading propaganda against the state. Rights groups say another activist, the poet Tran Duc Thach, has also been sentenced to three years in jail. Seven others face trial in Hanoi and Haiphong city later this week.
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Vietnam teacher jailed for advocating democracy
By: John Ruwitch, Reuters, October 7, 2009
A Vietnamese court sentenced a secondary school physics teacher on Wednesday to three years in prison followed by three years of probation for hanging a banner on a bridge calling for multi-party democracy. Vu Hung, who turns 43 on Saturday, was among nine people linked to banned pro-democracy group Bloc 8406 whose arrests last year and lengthy pre-trial detentions have been criticized by human rights groups.
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Vietnam: Spate of blogger trials to start tomorrow, another blogger held incommunicado
By: Reporters Without Borders, October 6, 2009
Reporters Without Borders calls for the acquittal of all the writers, bloggers and pro-democracy activists who are about to be tried in various courts after unexplained delays, with a danger of long jail sentences being imposed. Vu Hung’s trial in Hanoi tomorrow and Pham Van Troi’s trial the day after are expected to be held without guarantees for defense rights. Six other activists, who were arrested in September 2008 for various offences including posting criticism of government policies online and criticizing China in writings or in protests, will thereafter be tried in Hai Phong.
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EAST ASIA
China: Stopping people’s grievances from visiting Beijing
By: Andy Yee, Global Voices, October 7, 2009
The letter and visit petition system is an administrative system for hearing complaints and grievances from individuals in China. In August 2009, the Central Commission on Political and Legal Affairs of China issued an opinion document which encourage people to resolve their disputes by legal means and demanded local governments to intercept visit petitions to the central government. The authority is concerned about the rapidly increasing number of petition visits to Beijing which may disrupt social stability.
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Beijing battles online ‘disharmony’
By: Rick Martin, Japan Times, October 7, 2009
Thousands of goose-stepping troops, rumbling rows of tanks and floats celebrating China’s achievements paraded proudly in front of Tiananmen Square  last week, all intended to convey the message that Beijing has everything under control. However, there’s everything but control on the Internet. Ironically, behind this confident display of muscle during Thursday’s celebration of the Communist Party’s 60 years in power, Beijing is getting desperate in an information war with dissenting voices…
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China: Tweets during the national holidays
By: Xiao Qiang, China Digital Times, October 6, 2009
Chinese twitterers were busy during the National Day holiday, offering their opinions about the military parade and celebrations. Below are some examples from more politically-minded tweets: Gongminyaoyao: I only have one thing to say about the military parade: the government can drive tanks on the street to show off the nuclear missiles,  but ordinary citizens could not get kitchen knives in the supermarket.
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In China, a headless Mao is a game of cat and mouse
By: Jimmy Wang, NY Times, October 5, 2009
It’s not the kind of sculpture of Chairman Mao you typically see in China. He’s on his knees as a supplicant, confessing; his body language and facial expression indicate deep remorse. What’s more, the head of this life-size bronze statue, titled “Mao’s Guilt” and created by the artist brothers Gao Zhen and Gao Qiang, separates from the body – by design. Still, the Gaos are a reminder that, especially as China celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Communist revolution, limits to expression remain: although artists are increasingly free to deal with social and political topics, works that explicitly criticize Chinese leaders or symbols of China are still out of bounds.
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China: Police, curbs mark anniversary
By: RFA, September 30, 2009
Chinese authorities have clamped tight security curbs on the capital, Beijing, blocking off major tourist spots and taking precautions against possible unrest, ahead of a huge parade marking 60 years of Communist Party rule. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, along with some hotels, restaurants, and shops in the city center closed ahead of the celebrations on Thursday, Oct. 1, aimed at showcasing the rise of the world’s largest country from war-torn poverty to economic superpower.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Herta Müller wins Nobel Prize in literature
By: Motoko Rich and Nicholas Kulish, NY Times, October 8, 2009
Herta Müller, the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist who writes of the oppression of dictatorship in her native country and the unmoored existence of the political exile, on Thursday won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy described Ms. Müller as a writer “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.” Her award coincides with the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe.
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Activists in 15 countries launch historic global collective bargaining campaign
By: Anannya Bhattacharjee, Jobs with Justice, October 7, 2009
On October 7th, the ITUC-declared World Day of Decent Work, Asian workers’ organizations and representatives along with allies in the US, UK and throughout Europe are coming together to demand a Minimum Living Wage called the Asia Floor Wage. As the protestors at G-20 recently urged the global platform of governments to realize the fallacy of the neoliberal “free trade” model of development, labor activists in Asia, US, UK and Europe have joined hands to pro-actively propose a new model for growth.
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Talks for an arms trade deal going at snail’s pace as figures show over 2000 die per day from armed violence
By: Oxfam, Relief Web, October 7, 2009
Oxfam and a coalition of NGOs reveal death toll reaches 2.1 million in three years of talks about talks – issue urgent call to launch negotiations on arms trade treaty. Talks to establish an effective international treaty on the trade in conventional arms are going at a snail’s pace because of self interest and delaying tactics by some major arms exporters, warned international agency Oxfam today. This diplomatic wrangling is taking place ahead of crucial UN talks this month and as figures show that tens of thousands continue to suffer from armed violence worldwide.
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IsumaTV – Indigenous community media and online activism
By:  Teague Schneiter, The Hub, October 5, 2009
Since I first heard of what folks were calling a ‘YouTube for indigenous media’ in early 2008, the word about IsumaTV has been spreading: in its first nine months the site registered almost 4 million hits. Since its birth, the internet portal for global Indigenous media has been reaching out and making a significant contribution to the online Indigenous media landscape.
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Defining digital activism – part 3 – where are we going?
By: Mary Joyce, DigiActive, October 4, 2009
So we come to the end of our journey  (well, this series anyway).  We’ve answered the first two of Gauguin’s existential questions.  In the first post we asked “Where do we come from?” and realized we’re Builders, Doers, and Thinkers (graphic below).  In the second post we investigated “What are We (Thinking)?” and found we operate in a mish-mash of terminology that make effective discussion of technology and activism difficult.  Now we come to the final question: “Where are we going?” 
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NOTICES
Call for applications for the 2010 session of the annual Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) at Columbia University
By: Craig Zelizer, Peace and Collaborative Development Network, October 7, 2009
The application for the 2010 session of the annual Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) at Columbia University is now available. HRAP is designed to prepare proven human rights leaders from the Global South and marginalized communities in the U.S. to participate in national and international policy debates on globalization by building their skills, knowledge, and contacts. The Program features a four-month residency at Columbia University in New York City with a structured curriculum of advocacy, networking, skills-building, and academic coursework.
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IN PAST NEWS
Hundreds “drop dead” for climate justice at Twilight concert series!
By: Peaceful Uprising, September 6, 2009
The banner sat on the edge of the railing, and we peered down below at the thousands of concertgoers moving like ants through Gallivan Plaza. It had been long summer for Peaceful Uprising, trying to stay active in the face of climate change while student activists disappeared for vacation, and the desert heat fried our brains.  But now we were about to make our move, with a flash mob and banner drop in the midst of a free Toots and the Maytals concert.
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To protect public land, eco protesters get creative
By: Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine, January 31, 2009
The outlaw spirit lives on in the work of contemporary monkeywrenchers like Tim DeChristopher, a 27-year-old college student who singlehandedly disrupted a multi-million-dollar land auction that would have put hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in southern Utah in the hands of oil and gas companies. But DeChristopher didn’t use sabotage or homemade bombs-just chutzpah.
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