Nonviolent Action around the World – 16 May 2009 (Part 2)

May 16, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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EUROPE
Moscow warned to allow gay rights protest – or face Eurovision boycott
By: Matthew Day, Scotsman, May 14, 2009
Russian gay rights groups have said they will defy a ban from city authorities and go ahead with a demonstration in central Moscow on the day of the final in an effort to draw attention to the discrimination and violence they say the country’s gay people face every day. Already, one Eurovision contestant has said he will walk out of the competition if violence flares at the proposed demonstration.
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Armenia: Free speech under assault in Yerevan
By: Marianna Grigoryan, Eurasianet, May 14, 2009
Journalists in Armenia, both opposition and pro-government in orientation, indicate that they are increasingly wary of trying to fulfill the press’ traditional role of government watchdog. “It is really dangerous to work as a journalist in Armenia,” commented Ashot Melikian, head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression. The Committee has recorded four attacks already for 2009, compared with seven for all of 2003, a presidential election year.
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France: Film co-scripted by Saberi screened in Cannes
By: Golnaz Esfandiarai, RFERL, May 14, 2009
A film co-scripted by Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi and directed by her fiance, Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, was screened in the “Un Certain Regard” section of the Cannes Film Festival today. Saberi was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on May 11 after her eight-year prison sentence on charges of espionage was reduced to a two-year suspended prison term. She shares screenwriting credits with Ghobadi and Hossein M. Abkenar.
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Spanish protesters demand protection for jobless
By: CNN, May 14, 2009
Tens of thousands of protesters marched on the streets of Spain’s capital Thursday to demand better protection for workers hit hard by the economic crisis. Dressed in funeral black to mourn the estimated four million jobless in Spain, demonstrators had a simple message for the government: Enough corporate bailouts; it’s time to focus on the workers.
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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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Russia: Revise NGO law to protect rights
By: Human Rights Watch, May 13, 2009
President Dmitry Medvedev’s newly announced working group on non-commercial organizations should bring the restrictive law governing the operation of these groups into line with Russia’s international human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said today. The new group will hold its first official meeting on May 14, 2009. A coalition including Human Rights Watch and Russian human rights organizations urged the working group to adopt proposed reforms in order to guarantee the right to freedom of association.
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Georgia: Opposition present Saakashvili with deadline to go
By: Tamar Kadagidze, IWPR, May 8, 2009
Opposition leaders in Georgia have again demanded the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili, following days of turbulence marked by clashes with police and an alleged mutiny. The demand was lodged on May 7, just short a month since the opposition launched street protests in Tbilisi. “We repeat once again that we see a peaceful, constitutional replacement of Saakashvili and his regime, to be carried out through early presidential and parliamentary elections, as the only real way to end the political crisis,” said the leaders in a joint statement, read out to a crowd of protesters outside the parliament building.
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Georgia needs a different path to democracy
By: Lincoln Mitchell and Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, RFERL, May 7, 2009
As bipartisan supporters of the Republic of Georgia’s aspirations to become a fully functioning, Western-oriented democracy, we have followed with dismay the increasingly unproductive “dialogue” attendant to demonstrations against the current regime that began on April 9. Both sides — government and opposition — bear responsibility for the resulting rhetorical and political stalemate, which if left unresolved could escalate into violence or instability. We urge an alternative course, one that requires both sides to offer something to the other and to acknowledge that neither side has all the answers.
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TOP
 

MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Death in Libya, betrayal in the west
By: Andy Worthington, Guardian UK, May 15, 2009
News of the death, in a Libyan jail, of Ibn al-Shaikh al-Libi, a US terror suspect who was the subject of an extraordinary rendition, then tortured in Egypt and Jordan as well as CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Poland has, understandably, raised questions about whether he committed suicide – as the Libyan authorities claimed – or whether he was murdered. Just two weeks ago, representatives of Human Rights Watch saw him in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison, and although he refused to speak to them, they reported that he “looked well.”
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Egyptians in US urge Obama to raise issues of reform with Mubarak
By: Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Daily News Egypt, May 14, 2009
Egyptian groups in the US urged Barack Obama to tackle issues such as political reform as well as the continuation of the emergency law with counterpart Hosni Mubarak when he visits the US on May 26. They also called for “the release of political prisoners and the creation of a true democracy based on the allowance of general and religious freedoms,” in a statement released May 12 under the umbrella of the Egyptian American Organizations Coalition.
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Tiny Saudi democracy movement sends king blueprint for reform
By: Caryle Murphy, CSM, May 14, 2009
Saudi rights activists have sent King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz a petition asking for an elected parliament, term limits on royal princes appointed to official posts, and an end to “secret tribunals” for Saudis charged with terrorism offenses. The petition, which also requests that the post of prime minister be given to “a commoner,” is another attempt by Saudi Arabia’s tiny but persistent democracy movement to get its voice heard in an absolute monarchy that prohibits political parties.
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Iran presidential debates to be televised
By: AFP, May 14, 2009
Iran’s state television is to air debates by candidates competing in the June presidential election, the broadcaster’s chief Ezatollah Zarghami was quoted as saying by local media on Thursday. “Six attractive televised debates are on the broadcaster’s electoral agenda,” Zarghami said, vowing “fairness” in coverage by his organisation which has a monopoly on broadcasting in Iran.
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Iran: Discussing detention conditions of two campaign activists in Qum
By: IHRV, May 14, 2009
More than two days since the detention of two women’s rights activists from the city of Qum, their charges remain ambiguous. Readers are reminded that both Ms. Bidgoli and Ms. Masjedi have been active in the area of women’s rights in Qum for a number of years.  Both activists recently got involved in defending a young women who was threatened with honor killing, and in the ensuing fight, the activists confronted a number of powerful figures in that city.
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Amnesty calls on Morocco to drop evidence obtained by torture against Western Saharan
By: Sahrawi Association of Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations Committed by the Moroccan State, May 13, 2009
Today Amnesty International called on a Moroccan court to discount evidence obtained through torture in the upcoming appeals hearing of Yahya Mohamed El Hafed to be held in Agadir, Morocco. As Amnesty and Frontline Defenders have noted, Yahya Mohamed El Hafed Aaza/Izaa was targeted because of his human rights activism in relation to the ongoing occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
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Iran: Jafar Aghdami sentenced to five years imprisonment
By: IHRV, May 13, 2009
Jafar Aghdami, an ex-political prisoner and an associate in the Coalition of Human Rights Advocates in Iran, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment. Mr. Aghdami was released in 2007 after spending four years in the notorious Rajai Shahr Prison, and he was arrested again in September of 2008 by security guards after participating in a ceremony held in Khavaran Cemetery organized to pay tribute to the prisoners who were mass murdered in 1988.
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U.S.-Iranian reporter has no plan to move out of Iran
By: Iran News, May 13, 2009
Roxana Saberi, the freed U.S.-Iranian reporter, said on Tuesday that she has no plan to move out of Iran currently. Talking to the reporters in front of her apartment in Tehran, on Dibadji street, Saberi said she is “happy” to be freed (from jail) and reunite with her parents, and she “has no plan to move out of Iran for the time being.” In a brief sentence she also thanked her journalist friends and their sympathetic feelings toward her.
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A vanishing breed, Iranian satirist pokes fun from exile
By: Golnaz Esfandiari, RFERL, May 13, 2009
Ebrahim Nabavi is a diminutive man with an oversized sense of humor — and a sarcastic wit that has twice landed him in jail. Through his writings, Nabavi gleefully sheds light on what he regards as some of Iran’s paradoxes. He cites President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s opening speech at a recent UN conference on racism — during which the president launched into an anti-Israeli diatribe — as one of the latest examples of contradictory Iran.
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Call to identify and expel Iranian regime intelligence agents from European countries
By: Shahriar Kia, Global Politician, May 13, 2009
An annual report recently published by the Swedish security service (Sapo) mentions the expulsion of a spy who had been working as an embassy advisor in Sweden, thus uncovering a part of the Iranian regime intelligence services plots against Iranian dissidents and refugees residing in Sweden. The report refers to gathering of information and identifying regime opponents, impeding opposition activities through threats and bribes.
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Obama administration renews Bush-era sanctions on Syria
By: Ali Gharib, The Electronic Intifada, May 12, 2009
US President Barack Obama issued a statement on 8 May calling for the renewal of sanctions on Syria, which were set to expire on Monday. The declaration came at the end of a busy week in which both high-level US officials and the Iranian president visited the Syrian capital, Damascus. Though Syria has recently sought engagement with the US and Israel, the executive order extending sanctions is only the latest in a series of significant stumbling blocks to peeling off one of Iran’s closest regional allies.
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Bahrain: Abduction, beating of rights activist
By: Bahrain Center for Human Rights, May 12, 2009
Bahrain should immediately begin a thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction and torture of the human rights activist Ja’far Kadhim Ibrahim, Human Rights Watch said today. Men whom Ibrahim believed were working for a Bahraini security agency abducted him on the night of May 7, 2009, and beat him severely with batons.Ibrahim had been contacting political activists recently released from detention concerning their allegations that they had been subjected to torture and abuse in detention.
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Iran: Student protests from another world
By: Lisa Mirzaii, Nouse, May 12, 2009
On February 23 Iran’s stifled students gasped for air. Up to 70 were arrested for protesting against the government decision to re-bury five soldiers who died in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war on the grounds of Tehran’s Amirkabir University. Their banners claimed campus was becoming a cemetery whilst Evin prison, heavily student-populated, was becoming a ‘university’. It was a defiant show of opposition in the face of increasing government control in Iran’s academic institutions.
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Bahrain: Threatening online activism and blocking more sites
By: Ali Abdulemam, Global Voices, May 11, 2009
Minister of media and culture Mai Alkhalifa in her first interview with BNA (Bahrain News Agency) which is managed by her, again she threatening the online activism and said the blocking is the first step and we might take more steps to apply the roles. And following to this more sites been blocked yesterday like http://www.aafaq.org which is post a letter sent to the king of Bahrain by one of women activism who asked for real reform in the country and in women rights, also her blog blocked for the same reason.
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Iran: Ahmadinejad’s supporters launch online grassroots campaign
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices, May 11, 2009
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered as a candidate for the June presidential election. Like his rivals, he now awaits official approval to run in the election from the Council of Guardians. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad’s supporters have launched a multi-media campaign called Dar Emtedad Mehr (meaning, “Following Kindness”) covering social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and other online media.
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Kuwait: Female candidates face pressure in upcoming elections
By: Raed Rafei, LA Times, May 5, 2009
A crucial civil rights battle was won in Kuwait when women were allowed to run for office and vote in 2005. But apparently much still needs to be done for women seeking a political role in this oil-rich emirate to prevail over religious conservatives. On Monday, the Salafi movement, which believes in a strict fundamental interpretation of Islam, called for the boycott of female candidates in parliamentary elections scheduled for later this month, reported the website of the Arab TV channel Al Arabiya.
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UAE: ’25 more victims’ in torture tape case
By: Adam Gonn, AHN, May 4, 2009
The case of a film showing a Gulf prince torturing a grain dealer is further unraveling, with additional evidence suggesting he was filmed torturing at least 25 other people, according to a lawyer familiar with the workings of the royal family. The disturbing torture footage was released to international news networks in late April, when selected segments of the tape were aired on an ABC News program.
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Voices of Egypt: The next generation of democracy activists
By: POMED, May 4, 2009
As U.S. policy toward the Middle East shifts away from Bush’s freedom agenda to a more pragmatic approach, many are questioning what this will mean for democratic movements throughout the region. Addressing how this policy will affect Egypt in particular, Voices for a Democratic Egypt (VDE) along with Johns Hopkins’ SAIS hosted a panel with Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Michele Dunne, Wa’el Abbas, and Joshua Muravchik. The discussion was moderated by Dina Guirguis, Executive Director of VDE.
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Iran: A hard-liner attacks Ahmadinejad
By: Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, May 3, 2009
The crack between hard-liners in Iran’s upcoming elections widened today when Moshen Rezai, the former head of the Revolutionary Guards, criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for inflammatory rhetoric and bungling the economy. Calling himself a genuine hard-liner, Rezai, an intense man with a graying beard, said that if Ahmadinejad is re-elected in June Iran “will be thrown into an abyss, and if a reformist candidate wins we will return to the same failed policies of four years ago.”
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Salafi satellite TV in Egypt
By: Nathan Field and Ahmed Hamam, Arab Media and Society, Spring 2009
While religious television is not new in Egypt, traditionally stations have focused on prayer recitation or readings from the Qur’an.  Since 2006, however, roughly corresponding with the Muslim Brotherhood’s capture of a fifth of the seats in the 2005 Parliamentary elections, several new stations have been founded that focus on preaching from a more puritanical perspective that does not emphasize politics.  Many Egyptian experts such as Khalil Anani believe that these stations are the most watched in Egypt.
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OCEANIA
Fiji plans to extend curbs on media
By: New Zealand Herald, May 15, 2009
Fiji’s military Government plans to issue a decree extending indefinitely its news censorship and controls over the country’s media, according to documents seen yesterday. The regime posted censors in newsrooms last month as it extended its grip on power, and has forced publishers to supply “positive” news and barred criticism of the Government and its actions.
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Fiji: Bloggers debate media censorship
By: Michael Hartsell, Global Voices, May 11, 2009
As reported here last week, Fiji’s government extended for another 30 days its “emergency regulations” that, among other things, controls public gatherings and forbids the media from printing stories that “undermine the Government and the State of Fiji.” These rules allow the Permanent Secretary of Information the ability to place censors in newsrooms, accompanied by plainclothes policeman.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Taking democracy to the people
By: Joseph Nye, Globe and Mail, May 13, 2009
Democracy remains a worthy and widespread goal, but it is important to distinguish the goal from the means used to attain it. There is a difference between assertive promotion and more gentle support of democratization. Avoiding coercion, premature elections and hypocritical rhetoric should not preclude a patient policy that relies on economic assistance, behind-the-scenes diplomacy and multilateral approaches to aid the development of civil society, the rule of law and well-managed elections.
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Report: Foreign Assistance for Peace
By: Dane F. Smith Jr., Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 13, 2009
This second of two related reports looks at the peace-building function at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It examines the evolution of reconstruction and stabilization (R&S) in the Bush administration’s foreign assistance strategy and describes the effort to integrate the State Department-USAID budget process for foreign operations, including peace building.
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Mobilization for climate justice: Open letter to the grassroots
By: Toward Freedom, May 12, 2009
The Mobilization for Climate Justice is a North America-based network of organizations and activists who have joined together to build a North American climate justice movement that emphasizes non-violent direct action and public education to mobilize for effective and just solutions to the climate crisis. The Mobilization for Climate Justice invites communities, organizations and activists across North America to join us in organizing mass action on climate change on November 30, 2009.
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Essay: “A Dialogue on Nonviolent Resistance and Liberation Theology”
By: Terry Messman, Pace e Bene, May 11, 2009
The following essay by Terry Messman puts nonviolent resistance in dialogue with liberation theology.  It presents a “conversation” between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, Gustavo Gutierrez, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Father Daniel Berrigan, Dorothee Sölle, Mohandas Gandhi, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Lynne Shivers, Gene Sharp, Thomas Merton, Fernando Cardenal, Miguel D’Escoto, members of a base community in Brazil, and Sister Ita Ford, who was assassinated in El Salvador in December, 1980.
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How to plan and conduct a teach-in
By: Viet Tan, April 21, 2009
This toolkit is intended as a guide to help you plan every aspect of your teach-in and includes everything you need to make it a success. The purpose of a teach-in is to educate the attendees on a particular issue and to motivate them to join your campaign. Emphasize the overreaching human rights issue and the opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action. A successful teach-in will get the message across and illustrate that we all have a chance to do something about it.
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Transnational agrarian movements: Struggling for land and citizenship rights
By: Saturnino M. Borras Jr. and Jennifer C. Franco, TNI, April, 2009
Rural citizens have increasingly begun to invoke perceived citizenship rights at transnational level, such that rural citizen engagements today have the potential to generate new meanings of global citizenship. La Vía Campesina has advocated for, created and occupied a new citizenship space that did not exist before at the global governance terrain – a public space distinct for poor peasants and small farmers from the global South and North.
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NEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES
Promotores de la campaña ‘Con la misma moneda’ logran que una tienda en dólares ya acepte el pago en pesos
By: Cubaen Cuentro, May 15, 2009
Los promotores de la campaña “Con la Misma Moneda” dijeron haberse anotado “una rotunda victoria” en la ciudad de San Germán, al “imponer el pago en moneda nacional en un establecimiento de la corporación estatal Cubalse, “que sólo aceptaba pago en pesos convertibles (CUC)”, informó la Federación Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales (FLAMUR). Magdelivia Hidalgo, representante internacional de FLAMUR, afirmó que “esto demuestra el poder de la lucha no violenta, cuando los ciudadanos se organizan con visión estratégica.”
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Zhao Ziyang sur Tian’anmen
By: Courrier International, May 14, 2009
Vingt ans après sa destitution, et quatre ans après sa mort, l’ancien Premier ministre chinois Zhao Ziyang livre son témoignage sur les événements qui ont conduit au massacre de Tian’anmen, le 4 juin 1989. Le livre The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang, qui paraît le 19 mai aux Etats-Unis, contient la transcription des mémoires enregistrées sur cassette audio par l’ancien Premier ministre et secrétaire général du Parti, entre 1999 et 2000, et discrètement passées à l’étranger.
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Des ONG réclament la poursuite de l’instruction sur les disparus du Beach
By: Jeune Afrique, May 14, 2009
Des ONG de défense des droits de l’homme ont réclamé mercredi “vérité et justice” sur l’affaire des “disparus du Beach” de Brazzaville, il y a dix ans, et appelé la justice française à poursuivre de façon “effective” son travail sur ce dossier.
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Inde : les plus grandes élections du monde
By: Jeune Afrique, May 11, 2009
714 millions d’électeurs sont, du 16 avril au 13 mai, appelés à renouveler la Chambre basse du Parlement. Entre le parti du Congrès, les extrémistes hindous du BJP et la « troisième force », l’issue du scrutin est très incertaine.
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NOTICES
Freedom for those who defend it: Journalists – a film from Belarus
By: Ethical Martini, showing May 15 and May 19, 2009
The documentary Journalists, by Belarusian film director Aleh Dashkevich, is screening twice on the programme of the Auckland Human Rights Film Festival. Journalists tells about how freedom of expression was destroyed in Belarus over the 15 years of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s rule. Lukashenka came to power in the 1994 election promising to allow freedom of the press. Unfortunately, like most politicians, he was lying at the time.
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Call for applications: Soliya Facilitator & Facilitation & Conflict Resolution Training
By: Peace and Collaborative Development Network, deadline May 29, 2009
Once again, Soliya is offering a volunteer facilitator position including a free-of-charge facilitation and conflict resolution training. Are you interested in the relationship between the “West” and the “Arab & Muslim World”? Passionate about connecting students from different parts of the world?? Eager to facilitate dialogue, break stereotypes and promote understanding among students from diverse cultural backgrounds???
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The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict is pleased to circulate this daily selective digest of world news related to past, present and potential nonviolent conflicts, including active civilian-based struggles against oppressive regimes, nonviolent resistance, political and social dissidence, and the use of nonviolent tactics in a variety of causes.  We also include stories that help readers glimpse the larger context of a conflict and that reflect on past historical struggles.

If you have specific items that you would like us to include in the daily digest, please send them to us.  If there is a news or information source that you believe we may not be accessing, for purposes of selecting items, please bring that to our attention. Thank you.