Nonviolent Action around the World – 15 July 2009 (Part 1)

July 15, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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RESISTANCE AND REPRESSION IN IRAN

Iranian Grand Ayatollah casts doubt on ‘repressive’ leader
By: RFE/RL, July 13, 2009
Iranian philosopher, cleric, and activist Mohsen Kadivar has blogged the responses to what he describes as five “fundamental questions” about the legitimacy of Iran’s current government. He posed those questions in the form of a dialogue with his former teacher in Qom, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a long-time thorn in the side of the Iranian authorities and a symbol for many of internal opposition to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
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Iran: Ahmadinejad as Ross Perot
By: Chris Bodenner, The Atlantic, July 13, 2009
Mahmoud and his amazing technicolor war charts.
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Student dies under torture in Iran jail
By: Iran Focus, July 12, 2009
A student in his teens has died under torture in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, Iran Focus has learnt. Sohrab Arabi, 19, was arrested on 20 June during an anti-government protest. His family had been contacted by authorities on Tuesday and told they could post bail for his release. Arabi’s mother had posted bail and had been awaiting his release.
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Iran: Photos – Thousands protest in Tehran
By: Iran Focus, July 12, 2009
Tens of thousands of residents of Tehran clashed on Thursday with state security forces who tried to break up numerous rallies in the Iranian capital to mark the tenth anniversary of the 9 July 1999 student-led nationwide uprising. The following are some photos of the rallies.
View photos…
 
Open source movements and Iran: NedaNet
By: Tiby Kantrowitz, DigiActive, July 11, 2009
In late June, following the Iranian government’s repression of public protest over the results of the 2009 elections, an ad-hoc network of internet specialists formed in support of the protesters. Fronted by open source advocate Eric S. Raymond, NedaNet, named in commemoration of the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan, provides information necessary for people within Iran to anonymously reach and publish to sites government filtering would otherwise make inaccessible.
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Senior cleric says leaders of Iran are unfit to rule
By: Robert F. Worth, Iran Focus, July 11, 2009
One of Iran’s most senior clerics issued an unusual decree on Saturday calling the country’s rulers “usurpers and transgressors” for their treatment of opposition protesters in recent weeks, in the strongest condemnation by a religious figure since the contested presidential election a month ago.
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Is Khamenei’s son leading Iran crackdowns?
By: Arthur Bright, CS Monitor, July 10, 2009
As protesters return to the streets in Iran to demonstrate against Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the results of the recent election, a new report says that Mr. Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba Khamenei, is leading the government’s anti-protest militias.
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Iran: Power struggle or war of ideology?
By: Elizabeth Iskander, World Politics Review, July 10, 2009
Sources inside Iran say that the opposition movement that returned to the streets yesterday is no longer driven by electoral loyalties, but by a rejection of the “election coup” that concentrated power in a small and radical faction of the Iranian political elite. While the causes of popular discontent are relatively easy to trace, explaining the struggle within the establishment is less straightforward.
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Iran protesters take to streets despite threats
By: Michael Slackman, Iran Focus, July 10, 2009
Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran on Thursday, clapping, chanting, almost mocking the authorities as they once again turned out in large numbers in defiance of the government’s threat to crush their protests with violence.
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US politician urges Iran ‘sabotage’
By: Al Jazeera, July 10, 2009
The former speaker of the US House of Representatives has said that the US should “sabotage” Iran’s oil and gas infrastructure as part of its efforts to bring down the government. In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis for the Fault Lines programme, Republican Newt Gingrich said targeting Iran’s refinery would spark an economic crisis that would destabilise the government in Tehran.
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Podcast: Renewed protests in Iran
By: The World, July 9, 2009
There were new protests in Iran’s capital Tehran today. Demonstrators gathered despite an official ban on public gatherings. Witnesses say protesters were dispersed and beaten by government forces.
Listen to podcast…
 
Iran’s deadly dauphin
By: Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, July 9, 2009
The Guardian reports what many activists have been speculating for weeks: The son of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taken control of the militia being used to crush the protest movement, according to a senior Iranian source.
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Iran: Counter-targeting the protesters
By: Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, July 9, 2009
Sara on the blog Raye Man Kojast? (Where’s My Vote?) writes: Here are pages from an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps website that allows people to identify Iranian protestors. On this page, Numbers 1 and 19 are stamped “identified.” The sites are currently down. If they come up, remember to fill in the form and denounce Mickey Mouse.
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Iran: The high cost of the public expression of dissent
By: The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, July 9, 2009
Following the June 12, 2009, presidential elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a new episode of massive human rights violations unfolded before the world. Iranian citizens took to the streets to protest peacefully against electoral fraud. The government responded by cutting off many means of communication inside Iran, sequestering foreign journalists, and giving free reign to the Bassij paramilitary force and plainclothes militias to beat up and shoot at protesters.
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Iran protests flare on anniversary of 1999 riots
By: Ian Black and Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian, July 9, 2009
Iranian riot police used teargas on protesters, fired guns into the air and bundled several people into police buses today as thousands of Mousavi supporters defied a warning from the authorities that any new protests would be “smashed”. Witnesses told the Guardian and other news organisations that security forces moved quickly to disperse the latest rally, which was called to mark the 10th anniversary of student riots that until the recent street demonstrations had been the worst unrest since the 1979 revolution.
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Iran: Popular will vs Western conspiracy
By: Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram, July 8, 2009
While the world has been following the dramatic developments taking place in Iran, Arab public opinion is divided between support for the demonstrations as the legitimate right of all peoples, and rejection of them as a product of the West and a tool for bringing down the Iranian regime. The Tehran demonstrations in protest of the election results have entered their third week and created a new reality that must be intellectually and philosophically engaged with.
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Outing Iran: Car enthusiasts
By: Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, July 8, 2009
A reader sends in the following photos and writes, “Tehran’s Camaro and Firebird enthusiast club may come as a pleasant surprise!”
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Iran: A green wave for life and liberty
By: Asef Bayat, openDemocracy, July 7, 2009
How can we make sense of the current political crisis in the Islamic Republic of Iran? The key to answering this question is understanding how the current contention both reflects and is the outcome of Iran’s deep political and social divide – between a doctrinal regime which regards people as dutiful subjects, and a large segment of the population who see themselves as rightful citizens.
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Iran: Censors fail to silence cyber-activists
By: Sara Farhang, IPS, July 7, 2009
Over the past three weeks, and starting the day before the elections, Iranians witnessed interruptions in all forms of technical communication available to them, including the filtering and blocking of internet sites, email and internet interception, and even disruption in the mobile and telephone services – especially in areas where protests were taking place.
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Iran: A safe nest for the seeds of our hopes
By: Seemin Mesgari, Revolutionary Flowerpot Society, July 6, 2009
What has been happening over the past month in the streets of Iran, leaves no doubts among any skeptics that the people know best what’s in the best interest of their own country! If until now, some have been holding onto the fantasy of exported peace and freedom of the Iraqi and the Afghani (!) type, or have put all their media effort into colorizing or velvetizing the people’s uprising to the benefit of one of the governing factions, people’s struggle up to now have shown that the fate of this country is neither being figured in the hands of the imperialists nor in the internal lobbies of the ruling system.
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Interview: ‘Iranians have inspired people around the world’
By: RFE/RL, July 1, 2009
Iran’s postelection crisis and the protests by many Iranians calling for change have generated a lot of media interest around the world, especially in the United States, where a number of popular websites have been live blogging the events in Iran. One of these websites is “The Huffington Post,” on which news editor Nico Pitney has been posting videos and pictures about the protests, violence, and acts of civil disobedience by Iranians. RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari spoke to Nico Pitney about his experience.
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CRISIS IN HONDURAS

It’s still a military coup in Honduras
By: Al Giordano, The Field, July 12, 2009
For all the talk of “democracy” – both sides of the Honduras dispute claim that flag, but only the coup opponents have a clue as to what it means – I’ve heard very few voices out there that have, really, any devotion to authentic democracy when the going gets tough. That’s as true of journalists and communicators as it is for everyone else. We’ve watched the corporate media correspondents slip into their old comfortable shoes of disinformation, while a certain sector of left media obsessed more narrowly on their sputtering spin that this was somehow “Obama’s coup.”
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Honduras: Showdown in ‘Tegucigolpe’
By: Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 10, 2009
One of the hemisphere’s most critical struggles for democracy in 20 years is now unfolding in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa (nicknamed “Tegucigolpe” for its long history of military coup d’├ętats, which are called golpes de estado, in Spanish). Despite censorship and repression, popular anger over the June 28 military overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya is growing.
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Honduras newspaper impressed that daugher of Pinochet backs coup
By: Al Giordano, The Field, July 10, 2009
Here in the newsroom, we wondered if the website of the daily El Heraldo in Honduras (part of the same newspaper chain as La Prensa, which now enjoys the infamy of having photoshopped the blood out of the iconic photo of assassinated teenager Isis Obed Murillo) had been hacked by creative coup opponents. But, apparently not: the newspaper (part of the Inter American Press Association) published a story yesterday titled: Pinochet’s Daughter: “Zelaya Attempted a Coup.”
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Honduras and constitutional democracy
By: David Fontana, The New Republic, July 10, 2009
Here in the United States, the removal of President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras has prompted disparate reactions from the political right and political left. But both sides are missing a layer of complexity, one that suggests the Honduras crisis isn’t an easy case of heroes and villains. What is taking place in Honduras is actually a debate over an old and difficult question: Can a democratically enacted change to a constitution be itself unconstitutional?
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Tactic: Hondurans get online despite government media ban
By: Talia Whyte, DigiActive, July 9, 2009
Last week’s coup in Honduras is the latest incident where a government shut down radio and television stations during a political crisis, which has yet again outraged the international community. Just in the last month, China and Iran have made all efforts to create media blackouts in their respective countries. Digital activism has now made its way to the Central American country and making an impact in citizen journalism.
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Honduras: Photos – Army shoots and kills protesters
By: MiMundo.org, July 5, 2009
On the day when ousted President Manuel Zelaya was slated to return, thousands of supporters gathered at the Pedagogica University in order to march towards Toncontin Airport despite the suffocating presence of Honduran security forces. When protesters began trespassing the barbed-wire fence, the army responded by shooting tear gas and live rounds. One person was killed on the scene, dozens were injured, and overnight, at least three other people died in local hospitals.
View photos…
 
Honduras: It’s not about Zelaya
By: David L. Wilson, MRZine, July 4, 2009
Manuel “Mel” Zelaya is a rancher and business owner who wears large cowboy hats and, in November 2005, was elected president of Honduras, an impoverished Central American country with a population of 7.5 million. On June 28 of this year the Honduran military, backed by the country’s elite, removed Zelaya from power.  He instantly became a focus of attention for the U.S. media.
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AFRICA
Niger senses a threat to its scrap of democracy
By: Adam Nossiter, NY Times, July 13, 2009
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets to protest President Mamadou Tandja’s slow-moving coup d’├ętat, as his critics call it: his plan to stay beyond the legal limit of two terms in his colonial-era palace, a gleaming oasis of whitewashed order amid dilapidated government buildings and mud-brick houses. Democracy is new here in one of the world’s poorest countries, barely a decade old in this vast land of about 14 million people.
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Chaos erupts at Zimbabwe constitution conference
By: Peta Thornycroft, VOA News, July 13, 2009
Several thousand people went to the Harare International Conference center for the First All Stakeholders Conference for drafting a new constitution before fresh elections in about two years. But civil servants organizing registration Sunday were unable to accredit more than 200 delegates of 4,000 invited to attend. When it became clear registration was impossible before the start of conference, many delegates left the line and walked into the hall.
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Zimbabwe: Update – Mugabe stalls talks needed for a new constitution
By: Brian Latham, Bloomberg, July 13, 2009
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is delaying talks on a new constitution in a bid to scuttle the country’s coalition government and avoid elections in which he may not be allowed to compete, two members of his party’s decision-making body said. The president is concerned that if he cedes power he may face prosecution for violent crackdowns on opponents, said the members of the body, the politburo of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party.
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Africans reach out to Obama via text messages
By: CNN, July 11, 2009
The text messages address various issues and come from all over the African continent.  From the personal: “Obama, as a young lady I dream of being the president. U r a huge encouragement.” To cries for help: “Dear president, Darfur firing again…waiting for peace through the change u promised.” Despite being home to some of the world’s poorest nations, Africa has a vibrant cell phone market.
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Obama and democracy in Africa
By: Larry Diamond, Huffington Post, July 11, 2009
In his historic speech to Ghana’s parliament today, President Barack Obama put democracy and good governance at the front and center of Africa’s future and America’s hope for it. That is just where it needs to be. Obama could not have been more eloquent or forthright in identifying bad governance — corruption, lawlessness, abuse of human rights, and purely superficial deference to democratic norms — as the bane of Africa’s quest for development and dignity.
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Obama administration plans forceful policy to end conflicts in Africa
By: Chris McGreal, Guardian, July 10, 2009
The US is planning a dramatically more assertive policy in Africa, sometimes backed by a threat of force, to end conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria that are seen as among the principal obstacles to the continent’s revival. Barack Obama is to address Ghana’s parliament tomorrow on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president with a speech that is expected to emphasise that the key to prosperity is democratic, accountable government.
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Zimbabweans: Unhappiest people in the world
By: Lizwe Sebata, ZimOnline, July 10, 2009
Zimbabweans are still unhappiest people in the world despite the formation of a unity government that has stabilised the country’s economic situation, a recent report reveals. A unity government formed in February that has, for example, brought down high inflation of over 231 million percent to below 2 percent has failed to make Zimbabweans happy.
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Zimbabwe: Harare urged to lift media restrictions
By: ZimOnline, July 10, 2009
Zimbabwe’s unity government has been urged to immediately repeal all repressive laws and lift all restrictions on the media to enhance the political transition in that country. The call was made at a three-day Commonwealth Organisations’ Roundtable conference which ended in Sandton yesterday.
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Zimbabwe: Mugabe drags his feet on by-elections
By: The Zimbabwean, July 9, 2009
President Robert Mugabe has refused to set a date for seven by-elections necessary to fill vacant posts in parliament. The crucial by-elections are widely seen as a barometer of the current popularity ratings of the three parties in the inclusive government ahead of the 2011 general election. There are seven vacancies in constituency seats in Parliament, four in the House of Assembly; and three in the Senate, all dating back to 2008.
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Zimbabwe: Rights group calls for independent police monitor after WOZA abuse
By: Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa, July 9, 2009
Amnesty International has called on the unity government to put in place an impartial and independent police ‘oversight’ body, after four women from pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were assaulted by police members last month. The organisation said on Wednesday that the body should be publicly accessible to investigate all complaints of human rights violations by members of the police.
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Zimbabwe: MDC activist survives deadly axe attack
By: Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa, July 8, 2009
A Muzarabani man, a victim of last year’s political violence, is lucky to be alive after surviving another political motivated attack in which he was struck with an axe two weeks ago. The man, who was seriously injured, was walking home after he had served a summons on a ZANU PF supporter who burnt down his homestead and looted livestock and household property.
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Zambia NGO Bill could severely restrict civil society freedoms
By: CIVICUS, July 9, 2009
The Zambian government is seeking to introduce the highly restrictive NGO Bill, 2009 in the upcoming session of Parliament slated for mid-July. If passed, the bill will severely curtail the space for NGOs to operate in the country. The Bill was first introduced in 2007 leading to widespread criticism which prevented its passage in Parliament. Although, some concerns highlighted by civil society have been addressed in the present version of the Bill, key aspects remain unchanged.
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AMERICAS

US: Missouri activist pushes FBI to probe hate crimes cases
By: Sheila Ellis, Missourian, July 13, 2009
A Kansas City man who was the driving force behind an effort to bring civil rights-era offenders to justice is preparing to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder to jump-start efforts to find criminals because “people are dying and memories are fading.” Alvin Sykes is widely credited with the idea behind the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which authorized up to $135 million over 10 years for investigations of civil rights-era killings and established a permanent cold case unit in the Justice Department.
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US: Anti-immigrant activists push to end state benefits for illegal immigrants and their US-born children
By: Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, July 13, 2009
The target: Illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children who receive public benefits. The plan: a California ballot initiative that would end public benefits for illegal immigrants, cut off welfare payments for their children and impose new rules for birth certificates. “We will be out in full force to qualify this initiative,” said Barbara Coe, who helped develop Proposition 187, the 1994 measure that would have ended benefits to illegal immigrants but was ruled unconstitutional.
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Peru’s indigenous women dying
By: Human Rights Tribune, July 12, 2009
Hundreds of poor, rural and Indigenous pregnant women in Peru are dying because they are being denied the same health services as other women in the country, Amnesty International has concluded in a new report. Published on Thursday the report, Fatal Flaws: Barriers to Maternal Health in Peru, explores the high levels of maternal mortality amongst poor and Indigenous women in rural Peru and evaluates the impact of recent government policies designed to tackle the problem.
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Brazil: Digital mob demands the Senate President’s resignation
By: Thiana Biondo, Global Voices, July 11, 2009
Overnight, the #forasarney Twitter hashtag became one of the hottest on the social media network, making it to the trend topics on June 30th. At first glance, it seemed that the Internet was again being used as a potential political instrument for many people to voice their own opinions. Not only has the Twitter profile Fora Sarney [Get out, Sarney] gained over 5,000 followers, but the newly created Fora Sarney blog has already amassed 14,000 comments.
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