Nonviolent action around the world – 15 September 2009 (Part 2)

September 15, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
Burma: Female dissident put in solitary confinement
By: The Irrawaddy, September 14, 2009
An imprisoned female activist of the 88 Generation Students group faces additional anguish after being put in solitary confinement in a remote prison, a human rights group said on Monday. Thailand-based Burmese human rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said that prison authorities incarcerated Nobel Aye (aka Hnin May Aung), 28, in a solitary confinement cell in Monywa Prison in Sagaing Division recently. Tate Naing, the secretary of the group, told The Irrawaddy by telephone that political prisoners in Burma have often faced additional punishments or solitary confinement if they complain about human rights violations or prison condition.
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China’s shadow sector – power in pieces
By: Kerry Brown, Open Democracy, September 14, 2009
I spent the month of August 2009 travelling around China and looking at the state of democracy (in the sense of “village elections”), the rule of law, and civil society. It was a sobering experience full of disturbing revelations. There was an auspicious moment on the very day of my arrival, when Xu Zhiyong – who heads Gongmeng (Open Constitution Initiative), a small legal-aid NGO – was detained for “non-payment of taxes” (the grey zone in which independent NGOs exist in China means that this charge is often a convenient pretext for official persecution). Xu Zhiyong was released on 23 August, but may still face prosecution.
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Indonesia arrests West Papua peace activist
By: Judy West, Religious Intelligence, September 14, 2009
A peaceful resolution to West Papua’s long-standing conflict with Indonesia has suffered a serious set-back with the arrest by Indonesian authorities of leading pro-peace activist Jonah Wenda. Wenda was detained in the western part of West Papua, on September 6, and was formally arrested on September 11. Wenda is a spokesperson for the military wing of the West Papua liberation movement, the West Papua National Liberation Army. However, despite working for peace, Wenda is now being held pending being charged with undermining the Security of the State.
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Chinese dissidents committed to mental hospitals
By: Sophie Beach, China Digital Times, September 13, 2009
Watch the video…

Hong Kong: TVB’s beaten journalists and brave new voice
By: Henry C., Global Voices, September 13, 2009
Widespread anger over the recent beating up and detention of three Hong Kong journalists as they reported on ethnic unrest in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region came to a head this weekend with a high profile protest outside the Chinese central government liaison office in Hong Kong. The strong condemnation delivered by Cantonese-language channel TVB Jade of the way the journalists were treated spurred certain criticism and ridicule online, and the antagonistic stance taken towards the mainland Chinese authorities in recent days struck some as such a shift in character as to seem hypocritical…
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Papuan given two years jail for involvement in demo
By: RNZI, September 11, 2009
A Papuan man in Indonesia has been sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in a demonstration in Jayapura last October. Sebby Sambom has already been in custody for nine months after taking part in a peaceful rally to show support for the launch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the British parliament. As he was led from the court, Sambom rejected the subversion-related conviction and asked for international intervention in his case.
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Indonesia: Victims report to UN special rapporteur
By: Jakarta Post, September 11, 2009
In another attempt at justice, families and victims of the 1984 Tanjung Priok massacre sent a letter to a United Nations special rapporteur Friday pleading for an intervention in the unresolved case. The Human Rights Working Group and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) assisted in sending the letter to Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva, the UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. Yetti, whose father fell victim to the bloody incident, told The Jakarta Post that she hoped sending the letter would lead to a new investigation, and in turn, a review of the case.
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Burma: Monks’ movement still growing
By: RFA, September 11, 2009
Burma’s Buddhist monks, who led the “Saffron Revolution” of September 2007, are better organized since the military crackdown that killed unknown numbers, with more prominent religious figures joining their movement, according to a key overseas activist. U Awbasa, leader of the Thailand-based Exiled Burmese Buddhist Monks Association, fled Burma amid thousands of arrests in the crackdown on the 2007 monk-led protests. He said Burma’s revered Buddhist monks are still highly politically active despite the military crackdown.
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TOP

 

CENTRAL ASIA
Kazakhstan’s president-for-life prepares to chair the OSCE
By: Jeni Mitchell, The International Centre for the study of Radicalization and Political Violence, September 2009
One of the least free and most corrupt states in the world will be chairing an organisation meant to promote human rights and democracy? But what practically guarantees a year of rueful eye-rolling is the fact that despite international concern over the Kazakh chairmanship, the Nazarbayev regime continues to pursue repressive domestic policies and practices, even those which violate its commitments to the very organisation it is meant to lead.
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EUROPE
Russia: To protect freedom of expression
By: CIVICUS, September 2009
The modern world cannot exist without modern art. And the language of modern art is as important as the language of the daily news – the daily news for the protection of rights and freedoms, and the language of modern art for protection of the spiritual freedom of a human being. Two Russian art curators – Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Erofeev – could face up to five years’ imprisonment after they organized a contemporary art exhibition entitled “Forbidden art 2006” at the Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow.
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Kosovo: 22 NGOs of Albanians to stage protest on Monday
By: UNPO, September 14, 2009
Representatives of 22 non-government organizations (NGOs) of Albanians living in Kosovo will stage a protest on Monday over the signing of the technical protocol between the Interior Ministry of Serbia and the EU mission in Kosovo – EULEX, Serbian Tanjug news agency reports. The protests, which will be held in Pristina, were initially scheduled for Wednesday but at that time the information about protocol’s signing has not been announced yet.
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Germany: Just when is the right time for Balibo justice?
By: Tom Hyland, Sunday Morning Herald, September 13, 2009
Two types of justice, related to atrocious events that happened far away and long ago, were on show in Germany last week. Both have lessons for Australia, Indonesia and East Timor as they grapple with atrocities not so far away, not so long ago. Last Tuesday, the German parliament delivered justice to Ludwig Baumann, 87, by revoking his conviction as a ”war traitor” almost 70 years ago. His crime was deserting from the German army when the Nazis occupied France in 1940.
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Belarus: Viasna Human Rights Center – authorities again demonstrated total disregard for human rights
By: Chapter 97, September 11, 2009
Human rights activists protest against brutal crack down of the rally “No to Russian Occupation!” held in Minsk on September 9. Viasna Human Rights Center issues a statement on this event: “A peaceful demonstration of people who came to October Square of Minsk to express their view on participating Russian army in the joint Belarusian-Russian military exercises was brutally dispersed on September 9. Militia detained more than 20 people, 17 of them were brought to administrative responsibility for taking part in an unauthorized mass event.
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‘Women Without Men’ brings dissident Iran to Venice
By: Silvia Aloisi, The Daily Star, September 11, 2009
Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat has made her first feature film about women’s lack of freedom and growing political involvement in 1953 Iran, but she said the story had strong parallels with the situation today. Neshat’s “Women Without Men” is in competition at the Venice film festival. It chronicles the intertwining lives of four women from different walks of life at the time of the US and British-backed coup which deposed the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstated Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to power.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Iraq: Following in shoe thrower’s footsteps
By: BBC News, September 15, 2009
The journalist whose name has become synonymous with a new style of public protest has been released from jail in Iraq. Last December, Muntadar al-Zaidi threw his shoe at the former US President George Bush – an act that left an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of protesters the world over. Since that protest, “shoe-ing” appears to have become the favoured protest statement from Ahmedabad to Latvia.  Such incidents have inspired comedy shows, video games and social networking groups.  Even the month-long Indian general election in April succumbed to what one commentator described as the “ultimate non-violent weapon”.
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Pakistani artists persevere amid increasing militancy
By: Mark Magnier, LA Times, September 13, 2009
To find the music department of the University of the Punjab, travel several miles from the main campus to a red-brick building, then down some dark stairs to a dank basement. This befits a department exiled after a militant student group called it un-Islamic, un-Pakistani and unwanted. There were threats, protests, machine-gun-toting bodyguards, and now the basement. These are the front lines of Pakistan’s culture wars, a very real battlefield with bombs and bloodshed where musicians, filmmakers, painters and theater groups face off against the Taliban and other militants.
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Iraq Burin villagers meet to organize demonstrations
By: International Solidarity Movement, September 10, 2009
A second meeting was held in Iraq Burin about protesting the annexation of the land of the village for nearby settlements. The meeting was held to encourage and inspire different ways of doing actions, demonstrations and protests, and began by showing the second part of the documentary Bil’in Habibti, picturing the struggle of Bil’in. The focus of the meeting was in particular on nonviolent resistance and alternative ways of protesting. There were around 30 men and male youths of different ages.
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Morocco: Government uses torture to silence Sahrawi activists
Saharaui Moroccan security agents abducted and tortured a 19 year-old Sahrawi woman on 27 August for being a human rights activist, Konstantina Isidoros tells Pambazuka News. Nguia El Haouassi’s ordeal is just ‘one of many episodes of Moroccan police brutality’ that occur every year’, says Isidoros, but thanks to ‘an increasing number of Sahrawi student-led internet blogs’, records of human rights abuses against Sahrawi in the Occupied Territories are breaking through Morocco’s ‘propaganda wall’ to reach a global audience.
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West Bank: A different kind of activism
By: Mya Guarnieri, Jerusalem Post, September 10, 2009   
It’s Friday afternoon in the West Bank village of Bil’in. A crowd of protesters – Israeli, Palestinian and international – is gathered at the barbed-wire security fence. Some of them are with Activestills-a group that, like other photoactivists, attempts to bring provocative images to the attention of the Israeli mainstream.
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Kuwait & Egypt: Censors pull plug on shows that mock politicians
By: LA Times, September 10, 2009  
Kuwaiti and Egyptian censors recently banned two television shows because they satirized prominent political figures, said the Cairo-based group the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, or ANHRI, in a statement. According to the organization, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information banned the program “Soatak Wasal” (“Your Voice Is Heard”) because it was “offensive” to Kuwaiti officials. The comedy makes fun of Kuwaiti officials. Apparently, a sketch mocking Kuwaiti lawmakers and Cabinet members was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
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OCEANIA
Fiji: Bloggers debate Amnesty International findings
By: Michael Hartsell Global Voices, September 14, 2009
Bloggers in Fiji and around the Pacific are debating a recent Amnesty International report chronicling the island nation’s human rights record since the country’s president abrogated the constitution April 10. The report, titled Fiji: Paradise Lost, contends that since the constitution was nullified, Fiji’s military government has limited freedom of expression, movement, assembly, the right to a fair trial and the freedom of arbitrary detention. Also, the government has briefly imprisoned up to 40 people, including lawyers, opposition politicians, high-ranking members of the Methodist church and 20 journalists. The report tallies alleged arrests and other violations through July.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
International Democracy Day – work to do
By: Halina Ward and John Elkington, Open Democracy, September 15, 2009
An annual event founded in 2007 is already an established part of the global calendar. This is the International Day of Democracy, created by a resolution of the United Nations general assembly and first marked on 15 September 2008. This second occasion is again a moment both to celebrate democracy and to recall that the need to protect and support democracy is as important as ever. Both parts of this “mandate” are vital.
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Notion that violence is animalistic reduces support for war
By: Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune, September 14, 2009
It has long been suggested that thinking of one’s enemies as subhuman makes it easier to commit violence against them. A new psychological study turns that troubling truism on its side. It suggests one way to curb violent behavior against outsiders – including support for war – might be to emphasize the idea that violence is an expression of instincts we share with our fellow animals. This concept appears to dampen the gung-ho spirit of aggressive militarists.
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Coming of age? The significance and limits of transnational activist networks today
By: CIVICUS, September 2009
At the turn of the 20th century I heeded the calling of a transnational activist network critical of globalization. Attac appealed to me with its pacifist ethos that neo-liberal economic globalization is not an inevitable destiny but that a different world is indeed possible. I joined in the belief that Attac would provide me with a new sense of collective responsibility and means for political action.
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NOTICES
Youth Speak Out!
By: Annie, Peace and Collaborative Development Network, September 11, 2009
The World Youth Movement for Democracy (www.wymd.org), a youth network of the World Movement for Democracy (www.wmd.org), is pleased to announce the launch of its Global Essay Contest. Fifteen winners (3 in each region: Asia, Central/Eastern Europe & Eurasia, Middle East & North Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa) will be invited to participate in the upcoming 6th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Jakarta, Indonesia, in April 2010.
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IN PAST NEWS
Bulgaria: Grass root(er)s – Green e-activists of Eastern Europe enter politics
By: Pavel Antonov, APCNews, July 28, 2009
News that the Bulgarian national security agency (DANS) had raided the offices of the State forestry agency in Sofia back in March caught green activists by surprise. Particularly because news suggested that reports by “ecologists” were the reason for the Hollywood-style action in Bulgaria’s Ministry of Agriculture. Indeed, members of the For the Nature coalition had been campaigning for months against the non-transparent practice of exchanging cheaper forests for state-owned green areas along the Black Sea coast and in the high mountains, which would immediately be turned into construction development sites.
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Mexico: The Rosendo Radilla case – an Open Wound from Mexico’s “Dirty War”
By: Rose Anderson, The Hub, July 14, 2009
In 1974, Rosendo Radilla Pacheco disappeared at a military checkpoint in southern Mexico. As a prominent activist and mayor, Rosendo fought for health and education in Atoyac, in the state of Guerrero – a region historically plagued by hardship and neglected by authorities. Decades later, Radilla’s unresolved case reached international courts and is an emblematic example of government activities during the ‘Dirty War’ – a period when the authoritarian regimes of the 1960’s and 1970’s employed military tactics to crush opposition movements. Now Mexico faces charges of crimes against humanity.
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