Nonviolent Action around the World – 16 May 2009 (Part 1)

May 16, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA
Zimbabwe: MDC condemns arrest of Muchadehama
By: SW Radio Africa, May 14, 2009
The MDC is deeply disturbed by today’s unwarranted arrest of human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama who has over the years defended MDC activists accused of trumped-up charges. Barely 24 hours after the granting of bail to senior MDC officials Gandhi Mudzingwa, Chris Dlamini and journalist Andrison Manyere, has the State once again retreated to the yester-year mode of repression, wanton arrests and intimidation.
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Zimbabwe: Women want rights violators brought to justice
By: Norest Muzvaba, ZimOnline, May 14, 2009
A women’s rights group on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government to bring to justice people who committed human rights violations including sexual abuse against women during the run-up to a controversial second round presidential ballot won by President Robert Mugabe last June.
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Zimbabwe: Three journalists arrested, held overnight then freed on bail
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 14, 2009
Reporters Without Borders condemns a police raid on the Harare headquarters of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper on 9 May and the arrests of its director, editor and news editor two days later. The three journalists were freed on bail after being held for 24 hours. “Zimbabwean journalists continue to be the victims of police brutality and judicial abuses,” Reporters Without Borders said.
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Nigeria: Labour unions to continue protest
By: Murtala Mohamed Kamara, Africa News, May 14, 2009
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has announced that their strike action continue for the next ten days if their requests are not met by their government. Thousands of Nigeria’s took to the street of the commercial capital Lagos in a protest action against what they describe as the rise of fuel prices. The labour congress is also protesting over low minimum wage, slow electoral reform and the low performance of government.
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Zimbabwe: Prime Minister Tsvangirai launches the government’s 100-day plan
By: The Official Website of the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, May 14, 2009
Vice President Mujuru, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, Deputy Prime Minister Khupe, Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Government Officials, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; I would like to welcome you to this historic launch of the new Government’s 100 Day Plan. This Plan will provide the blue print for the implementation of key sector reforms and the initiation of essential development and rehabilitation programmes.
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Sudan: Storm over press law
By: IWPR, May 13, 2009
A proposed press law that would formalise strict controls over the Sudanese news media has drawn criticism from local media and parliamentarians. Under the draft, journalists and news organisations would be licensed by the media regulator, the National Press Council, which would be given the power to revoke licenses, impose stiff fines and suspend news operations. Murtada al-Ghali, editor-in chief of the Freedom Bells newspaper, described the draft law as the most “restrictive” media legislation to emerge in Sudan.
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Firms ‘fly Africa aid and arms’
By: BBC News, May 12, 2009
Some air transport firms used to fly aid to African conflict zones are also involved in arms shipments and drug trafficking, according to a study. The Swedish-based research found 90% of air carriers it identified involved in arms-trafficking were also used by aid groups and peacekeepers. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said the worst case was Sudan.
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TOP
 

AMERICAS
Venezuela targets cable station
By: Juan Forero, May 15, 2009, Washington Post
The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has taken actions that could shutter a private television news station, part of an offensive that has led to the seizure of foreign oil firms and a congressional effort to control the financing of nongovernmental organizations critical of the state. Authorities have accused Globovisión, an anti-government cable station, of inciting panic through its coverage of a May 4 earthquake before authorities released an official report.
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Peruvian protestors’ blockade of Yanacocha may eventually halt production
By: Marco Aquino and Dana Ford, Mineweb, May 14, 2009
Protesters in Peru, angry over the handling of a mercury spill, have blocked the road to one of Latin America’s largest gold mines, Yanacocha, which is running low on crucial supplies, sector sources said on Wednesday. Residents near the mine, run by U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp and Peruvian precious metals miner Buenaventura, are asking for greater compensation related to a toxic spill that occurred in 2000. They have blocked access for about a week.
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Cuba: Dissident journalist facing jail term on “disrespect” charge
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 14, 2009
Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of independent journalist Alberto Santiago Du Bouchet, who was arrested after a verbal exchange with a policeman in Artemisa (in Havana province) on 18 April. Du Bouchet, who is a reporter for Habana Press, an independent news agency, was previously jailed from August 2005 to August 2006 for a similar reason.
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Peru: ‘State of emergency’ declared in the Amazon
By: Survival, May 14, 2009
Peru’s government has declared a ‘state of emergency’ in several regions in the Amazon following protests involving thousands of indigenous people. The protests are against government laws and policies which undermine indigenous peoples’ rights and make it easier for companies to take over their land. They started on April 9: several rivers have been blockaded, roads closed, and one airport has been shut down. According to reports, at least ten indigenous people have been seriously wounded.
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Landmark developments in Guatemalan human rights
By: Lisa Skeen, NACLA, May 14, 2009
The recent arrest of two police officers in Guatemala marks an emotional milestone for human rights advocates in the country. Authorities detained the officers in March for their involvement in the 1984 forced disappearance of student and labor activist Edgar Fernando García. In the weeks following the arrests, the Guatemalan government made public millions of documents from a police archive haphazardly discovered in 2005 by human rights officials at police compound.
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Lawyer’s video from beyond grave accuses Guatemalan president of ordering hit
By: Rory Carroll, Guardian UK, May 13, 2009
A lawyer’s murder has rocked Guatemala after the distribution of a video testament he recorded shortly before his death accused the country’s president of orchestrating the crime. The 18-minute film has caused a sensation in what was once of central America’s most violent and unstable countries, and has prompted calls for President Álvaro Colom to step aside.
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Brazil achieves press freedom milestone
By: OneWorld, May 11, 2009
Brazil’s highest court has abolished a law limiting freedom of press that was used repeatedly to crack down on critical journalists, reports an international media rights advocacy group. “The Brazilian Supreme Federal Tribunal’s decision to strike down the 1967 Press Law, a measure that imposed harsh penalties for libel and slander, is a crucial step forward in the campaign to eliminate criminal defamation laws in the Americas,” reports the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
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Ecuador: Lawsuit against oil company for environmental damage
By: Milton Ramirez, Global Voices, May 11, 2009
The multinational petroleum company Texaco, and its parent company Chevron have been sued by lawyers representing the local communities located in Nueva Loja or also known as Lago Agrio in the Ecuadorian Orient. At the center of the lawsuit seeking 27 billion dollars for the pollution and environmental damages is whether the company, which turned over exploration of the area to the state company Petroecuador in 1992, is still responsible for the damage.
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Brazil: When climate change meets cyber-activism
By: Diego Casaes, Global Voices, May 11, 2009
On the Tuesday May 5th, Salvador, the original capital of Brazil, experienced moments of desperation with the strong rain that overran the whole city. Hundreds of incidents were reported to the Civil Defense, which had recorded 392 requests for emergency care by 7pm of the same day. In addition to collapsed houses, fallen trees and landslides, there were also massive traffic jams which brought chaos to drivers and commuters. Wander Veroni, author of the blog Café com Notícias (Coffee with News), denounces the state of emergency.
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Mexico: Civil sectors unite against mine in Ocotlán
By: Nancy Davies, Narco News, May 11, 2009
The sides have lined up for the confrontation over the Fortuna-Cuzcatlan mine in San Jose del Progreso, Oaxaca. The governor of the state, and the Canadian Fortuna mining company try to avoid looking like bad guys; the teachers, the church and social activists present themselves as the good guys. The bad guys support “development” and “progress” as good goals; the good guys support environmental protection, indigenous rights, and the peoples’ culture.
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
China’s Zhao details Tiananmen debate
By: John Pomfret, Washington Post, May 15, 2009
Zhao Ziyang violated one of the central tenets of Communist Party doctrine: He spoke out. But it is only now, four years after his death, that the world is hearing what he had to say. In a long-secret memoir to be published in English and Chinese next week, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party claims that the decision to impose martial law around Beijing in May 1989 was illegal and that the party’s leaders could easily have negotiated a peaceful solution to the unrest.
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Body parts of protesters possibly found in Thailand
By: The Age, May 15, 2009
A macabre catch by Thai fishermen could solve the mystery over missing democracy protesters believed killed in 1992. A haul of body parts has been linked to five shipping containers on the sea bed off southern Chon Buri province. Police divers will examine the containers next week. The military government responsible was forced out but the killings remain a sensitive issue because they were never fully investigated.
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Burma: Suu Kyi faces further detention
By: The Age, May 15, 2009
Burma’s military junta has charged democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with breaching the terms of her house arrest after an American man swam across a lake and hid inside her home. Ms Suu Kyi is in the sixth year of her current term of house arrest, which under Burmese law cannot be extended. It ends on May 27, and the Government may be seizing on the incident to extend her term or possibly put her in prison.
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US journalists to face trial in North Korea next month
By: Oliver Luft, Guardian UK, May 14, 2009
Two US journalists arrested in North Korea two months ago on charges of illegal entry and unspecified “hostile acts” will go on trial in early June. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for the former US vice-president Al Gore’s San Francisco-based Current TV, were detained on 17 March while reporting on North Korean refugees crossing the border into China. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency issued a brief statement earlier today confirming the trial date. The statement did not specify the charges faced by the pair.
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South Korean monk: A meditative force of nature
By: John M. Glionna, LA Times, May 14, 2009
The slight woman in the slate-gray monk’s robes was taking a meditative walk in the woods when she happened upon the bulldozers. She had spent more than a decade in solitude, leaving her rural monastery only for outings in the nearby forest. But this hike, on a spring day in 2001, was different. After some investigation, the monk discovered the unthinkable: The South Korean government was preparing to drill an 8-mile railroad tunnel beneath her monastery, piercing the heart of a mountain she considers sacred.
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India: Villagers seeking security threaten to boycott polls
By: The Hindu, May 13, 2009
Residents of two villages in Marampadi Panchayat alleged that an unruly mob often raided their villages at night and stole cattle, chicken, farm pump motors and wires. They flayed that the police did not initiate any action against the anti-social elements so far. They attempted to attack even the police, they charged. “The police should take immediate action and arrest the accused who intimidated Ilayaperumal within two days. Otherwise, all 750 voters in both villages will boycott polls.”
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China dissident Yang barred from China
By: UPI, May 13, 2009
A noted Chinese dissident living in the United States says he was denied entry to China during an attempted visit last week. Harvard University Fellow Yang Jianli told the Boston Globe there was no explanation for the refusal, although he had planned to meet with like-minded democracy activist leaders in advance of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square protests.
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China: Police crackdown in land dispute
By: RFA, May 13, 2009
Police clashed with villagers protesting what they say is inadequate payment for their farmland in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, leaving many injured, witnesses said. Police fired tear gas during the melee, early May 11 in Chanzhong village, under the jurisdiction of Haibin township near Zhejiang’s Wenzhou city. One villager, who asked not to be named, said police entered people’s homes, dragged them out of bed, and took them away.
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China: Students declare hunger strike
By: China Digital Times, May 13, 2009
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring.
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Indigenous Malaysians empowered to protect land
By: OneWorld, May 13, 2009
A landmark ruling by the Malaysian courts has granted indigenous tribes land rights that could help them stop deforestation and the expansion of palm oil plantations on their traditional terrains. The Malaysian Federal Court concluded last week that the indigenous people of Sarawak state, located on the Malaysian part of Borneo island, “have rights to land they use for hunting and gathering as well as land they use for growing food,” reports the indigenous rights group Survival International.
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China: Tiananmen Square leader arrested
By: Tania Branigan, Guardian UK, May 13, 2009
A prominent former student leader of the 1989 pro-democracy protests is under arrest on charges of fraud, his family said today, weeks before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Relatives said Chinese authorities had secretly detained Zhou Yongjun for more than six months. He has permanent residence in the United States but had returned to China to see his parents.
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In China, ‘truthiness’ trumps truth
By: Anne Donohue, CSM, May 12, 2009
Twenty years after the Chinese government brutally put down a student democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, I thought some vestige of that movement might still be found in China. But after spending six months in Beijing teaching journalism students at Renmin University, I found very few young people interested in carrying the torch of Lady Liberty. The students who transfixed the world 20 years ago are largely forgotten. Their message of democracy, the right to vote, and freedom of the press has been buried by the economic juggernaut of modern China.
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Vietnam acknowleges human rights “wrongdoings”
By: Radio Australia News, May 9, 2009
Vietnam has acknowledged some human rights “wrongdoings” in its appearance before a United Nations watchdog, but rejected exiles’ allegations about the mistreatment of dissidents and minorities. The exiles submitted a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council accusing Vietnam of quashing press freedom and Internet access to try to silence critics.
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China’s new newspaper
By: Mitch Moxley, The Walrus, May 5, 2009
Considering the gloomy state of the world media, the April launch of Global Times was an ironic affair. At a lavish banquet in a Beijing hotel, “glasses clinked under crystal chandeliers,” The Guardian reported, as hundreds of diplomats, journalists, and other dignitaries welcomed in style the English-language addition of the foreign affairs newspaper, published by the state-owned People’s Daily.
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China human rights briefing
By: CHRD, May 3, 2009
Reporting human rights development from the grassroots. April 27- May 3, 2009 highlights: One month before the 20th anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, the tension continues to grow.  Police in major cities are keeping rights activists under close watch, summoning dissidents and rights activists, warning them not to organize or participate in any activities related to 1989, following them, or stationing guards outside their residences.
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CENTRAL ASIA

Kazakhstan: Evaluating Astana’s democratization intentions
By: Joshua Kucera, Eurasianet, May 14, 2009
When Kazakhstan was named 2010 chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Astana pledged to undertake wide-ranging political reforms. But now, just over six months before Kazakhstan takes over the OSCE’s helm, US lawmakers and diplomats are voicing concern that Astana is not serious about fulfilling its commitments. Controversy has swirled around Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OSCE since President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s administration first expressed interest in guiding the organization.
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Azerbaijan: Baku’s flower children
By: Liz Fuller, REFRL, May 14, 2009
A new and apparently unanticipated challenge has emerged to the political status quo in the form of peaceful student protests. The catalyst for those protests was the bloodbath perpetrated on April 30 at the State Oil Academy by a young Azeri from Georgia whom the authorities have written off as a psychologically unhinged loner. The following day, some 2,000 young people staged a spontaneous march through Baku to demand that the authorities declare a period of official mourning, and, specifically, that they cancel the Flower Festival planned for May 10 — Heidar Aliyev’s birthday.
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Uzbek activists mark four years since Andijan
By: IWPR, May 14, 2009
Human rights activists in Uzbekistan and abroad commemorated the fourth anniversary of the Andijan tragedy on May 13. The date was passed over in silence by the authorities. A group of Uzbek independent human rights activists were obstructed by the security services from holding a commemorative ceremony at which they planned to lay flowers at the Monument to Courage in the capital Tashkent. The event never happened, as some activists were detained shortly beforehand while the homes of others were blocked off.
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Kazakhstan: Kazakh bloggers against online censorship
By: Askhat Yerkimbay, Global Voices, May 13, 2009
The Kazakh Internet regulation amendments which were sent to the Parliament last week have woken up the Kazakh language bloggers’ activism. A lot of posts in Kazakh language tried to analyze the influence of the draft law on the future of Kazakhstani segment of the Internet. Some are full of harsh criticism, while the other are not too surprised with the developments.
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Release of high-profile Turkmen prisoner unlikely to mean wider amnesty
By: IWPR, May 11, 2009
Analysts suspect the release of Turkmen political prisoner Muhametkuli Aymuradov is a one-off, and does not mean other dissidents will be freed in the near future. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch reports that Aymuradov was released on May 2. He had spent 14 years in prison after being convicted of terrorism charges in 1995. According to Human Rights Watch group, he was denied access to a lawyer during the pre-trial investigation and was not informed of the evidence and witness testimony to be used against him.
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Kyrgyz opposition unity crumbles
By: IWPR, May 9, 2009
Two weeks after Kyrgyzstan’s opposition closed ranks and pledged not to field multiple candidates in this summer’s presidential election, one of the parties announced it was putting its own leader forward. Analysts say these tactics have driven a wedge into what was supposed to be a united front and could fatally damage the opposition’s chances of unseating the incumbent Kurmanbek Bakiev on July 23.
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