Nonviolent Action around the World – 18 September 2009 (Part 1)

September 18, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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ELECTION AND REPRESSION IN IRAN
‘Death to the dictator’ chant protesters as Ahmadinejad denies Holocaust
By: Ian Black, The Guardian, September 18, 2009
Iran’s opposition Green movement put on a powerful show of strength today against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the hardline president repeated his notorious claim that the Nazi Holocaust was a “lie” designed to justify the existence of Israel. Tens of thousands of people gathered in central Tehran to shout “death to the dictator” despite a heavy security presence and official warnings to the opposition not to hijack the Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally, the regime’s annual display of solidarity with the Palestinians.
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Iran security forces clash with protesters: Witness
By: Parisa Hafezi, Reuters, September 18, 2009
Iran security forces clashed with supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi and arrested at least 10 of them during annual anti-Israel rallies in central Tehran on Friday, a witness said. “Security forces just arrested over 10 people,” the witness said. “They are pushing protesters and beating them.”
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Iran can make nuclear bomb  
By: George Gahn, Huffington Post, September 16, 2009
Iran experts at the U.N.’s nuclear monitoring agency believe that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and worked on developing a missile system that can carry an atomic warhead, according to a confidential report seen by The Associated Press. The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that those officials share Washington’s views on Iran’s weapon-making capabilities and missile technology – even if they have not made those views public.
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Iran’s unfinished crisis
By: Nazenin Ansari, Open Democracy, September 16, 2009
The political crisis in Iran is far from over. The regime has used brutal power to curb the great popular demonstrations sparked by the stolen presidential election of 12 June 2009, but it faces a far greater task in restoring its lost legitimacy and propitiating the fury of a cheated people. Its strenuous efforts to regain balance and control are already hampered by persistent internal divisions; now it faces the danger of a new wave of mobilisation by the bravest of its opponents.
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Mousavi to join mass rally in Iran despite warnings
By: Iran Focus, September 15, 2009
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June’s disputed presidential election, will join Friday’s annual pro-Palestinian Quds Day marc.  Reformist Mousavi is the second opposition leader to say he and his supporters will attend the public rally, after another defeated presidential candidate, cleric Mehdi Karroubi, urged his backers to come out in force. “Quds Day is a souvenir of the late Imam Khomeini and is the day of Islam, and he (Mousavi) along with people will attend the rally,” Mousavi’s office said on his website, referring to the Islamic republic’s late founder.
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Iran arrests children of dissident clerics
By: Nazila Fathi, NY Times, September 15, 2009
Authorities in Iran have arrested at least seven children and grandchildren of senior clerics in the religious city of Qum and threatened to arrest the son of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful cleric and a former president, in what appeared to be fresh pressure on religious leaders who sympathize with the opposition. The arrests, reported by several opposition Web sites on Tuesday but apparently carried out on Monday, coincided with a harsh rebuke of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from a senior cleric who is an outspoken dissident, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who urged colleagues to support the opposition movement.
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Iran’s Karoubi firm on fighting jail abuse cases
By: Iran Focus, September 15, 2009
Iranian moderate cleric Mehdi Karoubi said he would not give up fighting for rights of dozens of people complaining of mistreatment after being jailed over the country’s disputed election, his website said on Tuesday. Defeated candidate Karoubi, who finished fourth in the June 12 vote, angered hardliners in August by saying some detained protesters had been raped.
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Six accused in Iran protest trial
By: BBC, September 14, 2009
Six people have gone on trial in Iran for taking part in protests following June’s disputed presidential election, a state news agency has reported. It is the fifth trial brought against those accused of causing unrest and “undermining the Islamic government system” in the aftermath of the result.
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TOP

CRISIS IN HONDURAS
Honduras: National opposition to coup becomes a social force
By: Jennifer Moore, América Latina en Movimiento, September 12, 2009
A lead Honduran researcher believes coup backers will not be able to sustain their support for the de facto regime until elections in November. Director of Scientific Research for the National Autonomous University of Honduras Leticia Salomón says no one ever anticipated such widespread opposition to the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya on June 28th 2009. Now, more than two months later, the country is largely isolated from the international community and diverse sectors of Honduran society continue protesting daily in the streets. As a result, Salomón suggests, the costs for coup conspirators have become too burdensome.
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Zelaya must be ‘constructive’ to end Honduras impasse
By: Matthew Schewel, Inter-American Dialogue, September 11, 2009
A high-ranking US senator said Thursday he told deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to use “constructive means” in pursuing a solution to the political crisis that has wracked the Central American country since Zelaya’s ouster more than two months ago. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized Zelaya for taking “provocative” steps before and after his removal, which contributed to “deep divisions in Honduran society.”
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Honduras: Essay requirement for the School of Authentic Journalism
By: Al Giordano, The Field, September 2009
Today we announced the availability of 24 scholarships to attend an intensive ten-day session of this newspaper’s School of Authentic Journalism, February 3 to 13 of 2010 on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The application for scholarships is ten pages long and includes an essay requirement. It’s an investment in a new generation of authentic journalists that will tangibly increase the quantity and quality of the news and commentary you read here at The Field, through Narco News and all the other publications that its alumni go forward to report from.
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AFRICA
Documentary showcases women’s role in ending Liberia’s civil war
By: James Butty, VOA, September 16, 2009
Liberian women from all religious and academic backgrounds played a courageous role to end the country’s bloody civil war which lasted from 1989 to 2003. Wearing only white T-shirts, the women took on the warlords, including Charles Taylor and nonviolently brought peace to Liberia.  
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Zimbabwe: Army commander declares war on ‘private’ radio stations
By: Violet Gonda, SWRA, September 16, 2009
There are two main excuses that ZANU PF has been using as reasons that the Global Political Agreement has not been fully implemented – the issue of the ‘sanctions’ and the so-called ‘pirate’ radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe. The regime’s public criticism of ‘pirate’ stations has become more vocal of late, and even senior army senior army chiefs are accusing the stations such as SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 of treason, through their “asymmetrical warfare”. 
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Leading Zimbabwean movement organizer and women’s rights group win 2009 RFK Human Rights Award
By: Jeffrey Buchanan, RFK Center, September 16, 2009
Magodonga Mahlangu and her organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), are the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award winners. WOZA is a grassroots movement of over 60,000 Zimbabweans working throughout their country, empowering women from all walks of life to mobilize and take non-violent action against injustice. Ms. Mahlangu is a bold leader and a pioneer of the women’s rights movement in Zimbabwe who has led WOZA’s determined campaign of direct action. Tens of thousands of women have joined WOZA in standing up for human rights and speaking up about the worsening economic, social and political conditions in Zimbabwe.
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Zimbabwe: Police ban union march
By: Zim Online, September 14, 2009
Heavily armed police backed by water cannons cordoned off Harare’s Machipisa shopping centre to block a public march by workers at the weekend, in yet another example of how little the country’s security forces have changed despite formation of a power-sharing government six months ago. The police blocked the planned march by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) despite a High Court order authorising the demonstration that the labour movement wanted to hold to commemorate a ruthless crackdown by police on another union march two years ago during which 15 top ZCTU leaders were arrested and brutally assaulted.    
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Zimbabwe: MDC activists want state to return missing property
By: Clara Smith, Zim Online, September 14, 2009
Eleven political and human rights activists abducted by state security agents during last year’s post election turmoil have asked for the return of property seized during and after their abduction. Lawyers for the abductees have petitioned the head of litigation in the Attorney General’s office, Tawanda Zvekare, to facilitate the release of property confiscated during the state sanctioned enforced disappearances.
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Uganda: Bearing witness – distributed reporting meets the pull of the familiar
By: Nancy Scola, Tech President, September 14, 2009
The fact that localized acts of violence springs up with depressingly regularity around the world has one silver lining: it offers repeated changes to test Ushaidi, the distributed reporting software platform that volunteer developers came together to build during post-election violence in Kenya. Ushaidi, Swahili for “witness,” has been launched to track violence against non-South Africans in that country, in the eastern Congo’s terrible conflicts, and in the 2009 elections in India. And now the Ushaidi engine has been ramped up for the violence that unfolded in Uganda this past week, in the form of Uganda Witness.
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AMERICAS
Canada: Activists drop banner off Niagara Falls to say “No tar sands oil!”
By: Joshua Kahn Russell, It’s Getting Hot in Here, September 15th, 2009
Before dawn this morning, a small team of climate and Native Rights activists rappelled from the US observation deck at Niagara Falls. Dangling hundreds of feet above the ground, they sent a special welcome message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper ahead of his first official visit to the White House to push dirty Tar Sands oil. Not that he’s feeling so welcome anyway. Obama limited the meeting to just one hour.
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Canada: Protesters target oil sands before Harper meets Obama
By: Ayesha Rascoe and Jeffrey Jones, Reuters, September 15, 2009
Environmentalists shut down a Canadian oil sands mine on Tuesday in a series of protests on the eve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit with President Barack Obama, aimed at pressing their case that the projects undermine the fight against climate change. Green groups accused Harper’s government of trying to hamper U.S. efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by seeking protections for Canada’s oil sands industry, a major supplier of crude oil to the United States.
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
China: Police assault sends China’s famed artist-turned-dissident to hospital
By: Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor, September 17, 2009
One of China’s best-known dissidents is recovering from brain surgery in Germany after having been assaulted by a Chinese policeman. Ai Weiwei said in a telephone interview that an operation Monday night at a Munich hospital was successful. Ai, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, was punched in the face by a policeman on Aug. 12, when police broke into his hotel room in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, in the middle of the night.
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China city to ‘open up to media’
By: BBC News, September 16, 2009
Government officials in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen will soon be required to be more accountable to the media, the city has announced. From 1 December, officials could be sacked or reprimanded if they do not respond quickly to media requests. Chinese media is tightly controlled by the state and independent investigative reporting is rare. Shenzhen’s policy follows a relaxation of restrictions on foreign journalists after the Beijing Olympics.
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Vietnam: Closing blog was ‘painful’
By: RFA, September 16, 2009
A well-known Vietnamese blogger said it was “painful” to quit her online writing, which had been critical of the government, but she agreed to stop so she could be released from detention. Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, 31, who blogged as “Me Nam,” or “Mushroom’s Mother,” was arrested Sept. 3. She was the last of three bloggers recently arrested and released for what the government says were legitimate national security reasons. “They told me not to use that blog. They said that was a political plot by some Vietnamese… that that was what incited me,” she said. “I accepted everything so I could go home.”
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Nepal: Protests meant to topple government, says Maoist leader
By: Nepal News, September 16, 2009
Unified CPN (Maoist) vice chairman Narayankaji Shrestha has said the objective of the protest programmes is to topple the current coalition government and form a national consensus government under his party’s leadership. Speaking at the Reporters’ Club on Wednesday, Shrestha refuted rumours that his party might support Nepali Congress leader Sujata Koirala as the future prime minister of the country.
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Burmese political prisoner count ‘doubled’ since 2007
By: Democratic Voice of Burma, September 16, 2009
The number of political prisoners in Burma has more than doubled in the past two years, according to a report published by a New York-based rights group. Unless the 2,200 political prisoners are released soon, the elections scheduled for March 2010 will hold no credibility, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), who today released ‘Burma’s Forgotten Prisoners’. The 35-page reports documents dozens of activists, monks and journalists who have been imprisoned since the September 2007 monk-led uprising.
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Help detained Vietnamese bloggers
By: DigiActive.org, September 15, 2009
The web has become a critical tool for over 20 million Vietnamese internet users to access and share information beyond the censorship of the state-run media.  Since September 2008, the authorities in Vietnam have unleashed a massive campaign against Vietnamese bloggers and cyber activists. In the last 12 months at least 15 bloggers have been arrested and harassed. According to Viet Tan, a Vietnamese pro-democracy group based outside the country, these bloggers  were simply posting their writings critical of the government’s handling of the land sovereignty disputes with China and bauxite mining.
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Vietnam: New law closes think tank
By: BBC News, September 15, 2009
Vietnam’s only independent think tank has disbanded due to a government decree restricting the right to conduct research on the ruling Communist Party. The decree came into effect on Tuesday and limits political research to certain approved topics. The think tank, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), called the government’s actions a blow to intellectual freedom.
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Burma: Health fears for jailed monk
By: Khin May Zaw, Radio Free Asia, September 11, 2009
One of the most prominent leaders of Burma’s monk-led protest movement is suffering from worsening health in jail, two years after the peaceful “Saffron Revolution” was suppressed in a military crackdown by the military government, his family said. U Gambira, 30, was only 28 during the protests in September 2007 which began with marches to protest against rises in government-approved fuel prices.
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Cambodia: Editor, journalist charged
By: Sos Kem, Radio Free Asia, September 9, 2009
A Cambodian reporter and the Irish editor of an English-language newspaper here have been charged with defamation in connection with an article about the ongoing trial of an opposition politician. The charges against editor-in-chief of the Cambodia Daily Kevin Doyle and journalist Neou Vannarin came Wednesday, months after the report on the case of opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Ho Vann.
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Vietnam: Freed but still defiant
By: Diem Nguyen, Radio Free Asia, September 8, 2009
A prominent Vietnamese activist is still defiant after serving three years in jail for crimes against the state, insisting he committed no crime. Nguyen Ngoc Quang, 48 and and interior designer from Ho Chi Minh City, said his release didn’t represent any progress made to reform Vietnam’s political system or censorship laws.
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