Nonviolent action around the world – 1 December 2009 (Part 2)

December 2, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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SOUTH AMERICA
Venezuela: Anti-impunity activist assassinated
By: Intel Daily, November 30, 2009
Venezuelan media activist Mijail Martinez, the son of a former state deputy for the chavista Fifth Republic Movement (MVR), was assassinated in a drive-by shooting Nov. 26 at his home in the city of Barquisimeto, Lara. Martínez, 24, was a cameraman and activist with the Victims’ Committee Against Impunity in Lara state (CVCI-Lara) and an audiovisual producer on the TV program of his father, Victor Martínez, a longtime Bolivarian militant. Victor had recently been making a series of official complaints in which he had implicated a host of high governmental and police figures in corruption and human rights violations.
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Ecuador: Kichwa women oppose oil exploration on native lands
By: Belen Bogado, Global Voices Online, November 25, 2009
It is a popular saying in Latin America that women always get what they want. In Sarayaku, Ecuador, women from the Kichwa tribe proved the saying to be true. When an oil company came onto their forest lands for oil exploration for future drilling, the women decided to stop them with a simple but flawless plan. Esperanza Martinez says on the blog Ecoportal [es], that women told their husbands that if they allowed the companies to work on their lands, they would have to find other women …on different lands. The Kichwas organized a united front against the oil company until it finally had to leave.
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Colombia: Displaced women demand their rights
By: Refugees International, November 16, 2009
Displaced Colombian women and girls are the resilient survivors of the ongoing conflict inside the country. Frustrated by continued neglect from the authorities, displaced women’s organizations successfully petitioned  the Constitutional Court, which ordered the Colombian government to bring to justice perpetrators of sexual violence and devise programs attending to the protection and socio-economic needs of displaced women.
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TOP
 

EUROPE
UK: Climate activists blockade biomass plant in Port Talbot
By: Climate Camp Cymru, November 30, 2009
Two protestors used bicycle locks to close off the plant’s entrance, stopping the hourly 20-tonne deliveries of woodchip needed to keep the power station operating. A large banner on the gates reads “Biomess”. Other activists climbed up the chimney to unfurl a giant banner in Welsh reading “Clean Energy: Dirty Joke”. The plant is the first of its kind in the UK, incinerating woodchips to generate electricity. It is a test plant for the large-scale plants that have been announced in Britain. The world’s largest biomass plant (350 MW) has already been approved in Port Talbot and construction is due to start early next year.
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Denmark: The activists’ circus comes to Copenhagen
By: Bibi v. d. Zee and P. Barkham, The Guardian, November 30, 2009
In two weeks’ time, seven-year-old Gabriel Anderson will be in the centre of Copenhagen, climbing on to a step to address the crowds at the end of another Performance Family Picnic. Gabriel, his brothers Sid, two, and Neal, nine, plus his parents, artists and lecturers Gary Anderson and Lena Simic, make up the Institute of the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home, a one-family protest unit from Liverpool who take their picnic rugs and perform at galleries and protest gatherings. Funded by the Danish government at an estimated cost of 1 million kroner it will offer an official welcome to the thousands of environmentalists, NGOs and grassroots activists from around the world who eager to voice their opposition to the global political failure to tackle climate change.
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Russia: Tatarstan blogger sentenced to almost two years in penal colony
By: Alexey Sidorenko, Global Voices Onlilne, November 27, 2009
On Nov. 26, the Kirov district court of Kazan, which is the capital of the Republic of Tartastan, convicted Irek Murtazin, a 45-year-old journalist and blogger, of defamation and incitement to hatred, reports Gazeta.ru [RUS]. The court sentenced Murtazin to one year and nine months of imprisonment in a penal colony (a form of imprisonment where convicts live not in a jail but in a special colony for prisoners).
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Denmark: Climate change summit becomes a target for protest
By: Christopher Lawton, Spiegel Online, November 25, 2009
If you missed Seattle, you won’t want to miss Copenhagen. That, at least, is what Tadzio Müller, a political scientist and climate activist with Climate Justice Action — a global network of activists and non-governmental organizations committed to combating climate change — is telling people. The mass protest movement, he hopes, is turning green. He won’t have to wait long to see if he’s right. In just two weeks, dozens of world leaders will gather in the Danish capital in an attempt to agree on a global deal to halt global warming. But with many politicians dragging their feet, pessimism that a binding agreement will be forged is growing.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Why Iran is targeting nobel winner Ebadi
By: Azadeh Moaveni, Time, November 30, 2009
When Iranian Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work as a lawyer and human-rights activist, the regime in Tehran faced a dilemma. The award infuriated the country’s hard-liners, but the regime privately acknowledged that it had also earned Ebadi the admiration of most Iranians. Reluctant to arrest or openly target such a popular figure, the government tolerated Ebadi’s activities and limited itself to low-level harassment of her legal office. That tacit policy has now changed.
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Another Iranian journalist receives heavy prison term
By: Payvand Iran News, November 30, 2009
Hengameh Shahidi, an Iranian journalist and social activist arrested in the post-election events has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison, according to her lawyer Mohammad Mostafayi. Mr. Mostafayi reports that Ms. Shahidi has been charged with “activity against national security,” “propaganda against the system” and “making offensive remarks about the president.” He adds that the charges are unfounded, the “confessions” were obtained while his client was “under duress and psychological pressure,” and he will appeal the sentence within 20 days.
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Syrian activist held incommunicado at risk of torture
By: Human Rights Blog, November 30, 2009
Amnesty International has expressed its concern for a Syrian political activist, held incommunicado since 15 November and believed to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Yousef Dheeb al-Hmoud was arrested at his home in the city of Deir az-Zawr, eastern Syria. His family were unable to identify the security force that the arresting officers belonged to. The authorities have not revealed where Yousef Dheeb al-Hmoud is being held, why he was arrested or whether he will be charged. Yousef Dheeb al-Hmoud is a member of the Islamic Democratic Current, an Islamist political group which demands democratic reform in Syria and is opposed to the use of violence.
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Saudi Arabians use Facebook to vent fury over Jeddah flood deaths
By: Caryle Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, November 30, 2009
Last week’s flooding that left more than 100 people dead in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, has sparked an unusual wave of citizen outrage on Facebook and in the state-run local press. The outburst of public fury includes calls for some royal princes and government officials to resign, calling to mind the widespread anger in the US over the Bush administration’s ineffective response to hurricane Katrina in 2005. “This anger has never happened before,” says Waleed Abu Al Khair, a human rights lawyer in Jeddah and one of the creators of a Facebook page that has drawn more than 20,000 comments in four days.  
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Western Sahara: Fears grow for hunger strike Nobel nominee Aminatou Haidar
By: Giles Tremlett, The Guardian, November 29, 2009
Aminatou Haidar went on hunger strike 12 days ago after being expelled from her home and having her passport taken away by Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1976. Haidar’s health continued to deteriorate yesterday amid growing worldwide concern, with Barack Obama’s administration and Amnesty International both expressing concern. But her hunger strike has won support from Spanish celebrities… Today, Almodóvar and hundreds of Spanish artists, intellectuals and leftwing politicians are due to hold a protest meeting in Madrid.
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Diplomats: Iran censured at UN nuclear meeting
By: George Jahn, Truthout, November 27, 2009
The board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog censured Iran on Friday, with 25 nations backing a resolution that demands Tehran immediately freeze construction of its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop uranium enrichment. Iran remained defiant, with its chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency declaring that his country would resist “pressure, resolutions, sanction(s) and threat of military attack.”
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Iran arrests students to curb expected protests
By: VOA, November 25, 2009
An Iranian rights group says Iranian police have arrested students in an apparent attempt to discourage protests expected on National Student Day, December 7. The foreign-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says “scores” of students from universities across the country have been arrested and prosecuted in recent days. The rights group says some students have been subjected to university disciplinary procedures, while others have been sentenced to prison terms and lashings.
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Iran frees activist on bail in mass trial
By: AP, November 24, 2009
Iran’s official news agency reports a political activist and former head of the Tehran municipal council has been released on bail in the mass trial of opposition figures accused of fomenting the post-election unrest. Mohammad Atrianfar headed the council in late 1990s. He was a close ally of Mahdi Karroubi, one of the losing candidates in disputed June presidential election who became a leader of the opposition afterward. The Tuesday report by IRNA quotes the Tehran prosecutor as saying Atrianfar was released on $500,000 bail but he did not say what Atrianfar was sentenced for.
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Iran expanding effort to stifle the opposition
By: Robert Worth, NY Times, November 23, 2009
After last summer’s disputed presidential election, Iran’s government relied largely on brute force – beatings, arrests and show trials – to stifle the country’s embattled opposition movement. Now, stung by the force and persistence of the protests, the government appears to be starting a far more ambitious effort to discredit its opponents and re-educate Iran’s mostly young and restive population. In recent weeks, the government has announced a variety of new ideological offensives.
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Kuwait: Free jailed activist
By: Human Rights Watch, November 23, 2009
The prosecutor-general should immediately order the release of Muhammad Abd al-Qadir al-Jasim, a lawyer and journalist who is a prominent critic of the government, Human Rights Watch said today. Al-Jasim was arrested November 22, 2009, on charges of libel and slander. The arrest was apparently the result of criticisms he allegedly made about Prime Minister Shaikh Nasir al-Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah’s policies at a private gathering more than a month ago, Al-Jasim’s lawyer said.
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Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti urges unity
By: BBC, November 19, 2009
A jailed leader of the Fatah movement, Marwan Barghouti, says Palestinian factions must be united and launch a campaign to achieve statehood. Mr Barghouti said the impasse in peace talks with Israel meant there was “no excuse” for the fierce rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. “The necessary strategy is firstly ending the division,” he told Reuters.
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Iran: Art in protest
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices Online, November 16, 2009
Mir Hussein Mousavi, one of Iran’s opposition leaders, recently mentioned in a video interview that the artistic creativity of the ‘green’ protest movement since the June 12 presidential election has been unique in Iran’s history. Iranian artists and even non-Iranian have been inspired by the resistance movement of Iranians and have used their talent to create designs, posters, animations and video clips to express their hope and anger.
Watch the video…

 

CENTRAL ASIA
Turkmenistan now has opera – but real change?
By: Miriam Elder, Global Post, November 28, 2009
When one of the world’s most eccentric dictators died two years ago, many hoped the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan would become a new country. Saparmurat Niyazov – better known as Turkmenbashi, or “Father of all Turkmen,” a name he gave himself – ruled the country with an iron fist. Critics, be they close advisors or random Turkmen speaking freely, were jailed. Two years into the rule of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, health minister under Turkmenbashi and the longest serving minister in his cabinet, things have changed – at least on the surface.
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Kyrgyzstan: Human rights activist accused of espionage and extremism
By: Ferghana, November 25, 2009
In the city of Osh on the evening of 18 November 2009, a member of Memorial Human Rights Center, Bakhrom Khamroev, was illegally detained by representatives of the State Service for National Security (GSNB). Khamroev was collecting information on persecution of independent Muslims in Southern Kyrgyzstan. Without any kind of reason, the Russian citizen was held in detention for about 14 hours, subjected to interrogations and scare-tactics, before being put on a plane to Moscow on the morning of the following day. The following are the most important episodes according to Bakhrom Khamroev himself, and were put into writing after his return to Moscow.
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Uzbek democracy dissident released
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, November 25, 2009
Uzbek opposition leader Sanjar Umarov is finally reunited with his family after being released from a labor camp. He received an amnesty and was released from prison on Nov. 7. A successful businessman, the 53-year-old Umarov formed the Sunshine Uzbekistan movement to press for economic reform. He became a dissident and vocal critic of President Islam A. Karimov following the Andijon massacre in 2005.
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SOUTH ASIA
India: People have the power in Bihar
By: India Today, November 30, 2009
The term, people’s power assumes special significance for Bihar because the state is the origin home of the famous Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) movement of the seventies when the firebrand freedom fighter turned Sarvodaya leader resurfaced in 1974 to lead an uprising and a people’s movement against corruption. His cry against corruption had a nationwide impact because almost entire Bihar rose with him. The movement was started with certain specific demands, the chief among them being removal of corruption, solution of the problem of unemployment and basic changes in the system of education.
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Feminist writings by Pakistan’s activist poet
By: Jehanara, November 29, 2009
While getting involved in the 16 Days of activism against gender violence, and trying to explain to people why “Take Back the Tech” is such an important initiative by APC’s Women’s Networking Support Program, I discovered a website containing some very powerful verses written by Attiya Dawood who is a female activist poet. Some of the poetry is about violence in marriage, rape, against laws and traditions and beliefs that hold women back. I remember being introduced for the first time to Attiya and her poetry by Zak and his wife Nuzhat who has been an active part of the War against Rape and Women’s Action Forum movements in Pakistan. Nuzhat has also been extremely vocal in her criticism of some past and current legislation in Pakistan.
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SOUTHEAST ASIA
Protest demands Philippines justice
By: Al Jazeera, November 30, 2009
A group of about 1,000 journalists and activists have held a protest march in the Philippines capital, calling on the government to ensure that all those behind last week’s massacre on the southern island of Mindanao are brought to justice. The protesters, clad mostly in black shirts and carrying a black mock coffin and placards, marched to the presidential palace, which had been ringed by barbed-wire and police, on Monday. Media watchdogs have said that the mass killing on November 23 – which left 57 civilians, including at least 30 journalists, dead – was the world’s deadliest single assault on journalists.
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Protest stops cranes at Indonesia’s APP paper port
By: Sunanda Creagh, Reuters, November 26, 2009
Environmental activists shut down four cranes at port run by one of Asia’s biggest pulp and paper groups on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, but overall operations were not hit, the company said on Thursday. Greenpeace activists have targeted logging and paper firms in Indonesia in recent months to draw attention to the role that deforestation plays in global warming in the lead up to global climate talks in Copenhagen in early December. Twelve Greenpeace protesters on Wednesday climbed four cranes and unfurled a banner that read “Forest Destruction: You can stop this”.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Gene Sharp: Theoretician of velvet revolution
By: Michael Hirshman, RFE, November 27, 2009
In February last year, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry produced a broadcast about Americans it said were plotting against the regime. The video mentioned well-known names like Senator John McCain and financier George Soros. The video also mentioned a little-known academic: Gene Sharp. Known as the “Clausewitz of nonviolent warfare,” Dr. Gene Sharp, an 81-year-old former Harvard researcher, is the author of a how-to manual for nonviolent struggle. Titled “From Dictatorship to Democracy” and first published in 1993, the book has influenced movements for peaceful political change, from Serbia to Azerbaijan to Burma.
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End violence against women around the world
By: Juliana Parra, Global Voices Online, November 25, 2009
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and through videos, many people and organizations around the world are expressing their need to end the violence as well as the efforts they are undertaking to ensure that women have a safer world to live in. UNIFEM, in the Say No to Violence channel on YouTube has already documented some of the actions being taken around the world to end gender violence.
Watch the videos…

Donald Steinberg – “Responsibility to protect: Coming of age?”
By: International Crisis Group, November 18, 2009
Was 2008 the year when the concept of “responsibility to protect” finally jumped from the obscure paragraphs 138 and 139 of the World Summit Outcome document into the consciousness of policymakers, civil society activists, and international organization officials around the world?
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“Civil society” versus social movements
By: A. Esteves and S. Motta, Interface, November 2009
As we write this editorial, ANC-backed thugs have installed what can best be described as paramilitary law in townships whose population has dared to organise outside of local clientelist structures – with the support of much of the institutional left and international NGO community. In India, Communist parties send police, military and paramilitary groups against tribal groups opposing similar dispossession by multinationals. These are extreme examples of a phenomenon which is all too familiar; the move into the state of particular types of activist, movement organisation or political party, and their involvement in repressing popular struggles.
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NEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES
Los disidentes hacen ruido
By: Saul Landau, Transnational Institute, November 19, 2009
La hipocresía del gobierno de EE.UU. ha sido tan dominante durante la última década que provoca bostezos y miradas vidriosas. Los senadores denuncian la interferencia gubernamental en los servicios de salud, mientras disfrutan de su insuperable seguro gubernamental de salud que ellos diseñaron –a expensas del contribuyente. La Secretaria de Estado Clinton exigió a los líderes paquistaníes que eliminaran a los terroristas de las calles, mientras que autoproclamados terroristas anti Castro pasean por las vías pública del centro de Miami -como luchadores por la libertad, por supuesto.
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BOOK REVIEW
The unpredictable future: Stories from worker-run factories in Argentina
By: Benjamin Dangl, Upside Down World, November 24, 2009
Following the social upheaval in Argentina in 2001-2002 a book was published in Spanish that a lot of activists and independent journalists in the country began trying to get their hands on. It wasn’t in all of the bookstores, but news about it traveled like wildfire. Now the legendary book, Sin Patron: Stories From Argentina’s Worker-Run Factories, is translated and available to the English-speaking world. The book includes a number of illuminating interviews and chapters by Lavaca, a journalism collective based in Buenos Aires that continues to produce some of the best analysis and stories on social movements in the country. With Sin Patron, Lavaca brings together dynamic voices and stories from the hearts of Argentina’s inspiring movements.
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“Little brother” vs. big brother
By: Emily Jacobi, Kickstarter, November 2009
“Little Brother is a scarily realistic adventure … A teenage hacker-turned-hero pits himself against the government to fight for his basic freedoms. This book is action-packed with tales of courage, technology, and demonstrations of digital disobedience as the technophile’s civil protest.” My organization, Digital Democracy, has been working closely with Burmese community groups for the past few years. After seeing firsthand how communications technology is changing life inside the country, we want to bring Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother to Burmese readers…
Watch the video…
 

NOTICES

Call for instructors from non-US based academic institutions to teach seminars on civil resistance
By: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, December 2009
ICNC recently launched a new Curriculum Support Program
that aims at assisting faculty from non-US based academic institutions in designing and teaching seminars on civil resistance in their local universities and colleges.
For more information please view this online document.