Nonviolent Action around the World – 21 April 2009 (Part 1)

April 21, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA
Gabon: African rainforest activist wins international Goldman prize
By: Veronique Mistiaen, Guardian, April 20, 2009
Deep inside Gabon’s rainforest, is a sacred place bathed in a permanent rainbow. The breathtaking Kangou Falls have inspired awe among the local pygmy and Bantu ethnic groups for centuries. They believe that many of their ancestors originated in these frothy pools, explains Marc Ona Essangui, an environmentalist who has been jailed for his fight to protect Gabon’s rainforest.
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Zimbabwe: Police hunt student leaders
By: Radio VOP, April 20, 2009
Police in Bulawayo are hunting for the student leadership of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) whom they have accused of inciting students to destroy property at the university last Thursday. Police sources said the Law and Order Section had been instructed to hunt down NUST Student Representative Council (SRC) president Kurayi Hoyi, the SRC secretary general Samson Nxumalo and the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) treasurer Sheunesu Nyoni.
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Zimbabwe unity government faces collapse
By: Mxolisi Ncube, WPR, April 17, 2009
Zimbabwe’s national unity government faces imminent collapse, due to its failure to get critical financial aid from the international community. Experts have now warned that the government might soon fail to pay its workers, with the potential for serious civil unrest as a result.
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Zimbabwe: Riots break out at NUST University over forex fees
By: Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa, April 17, 2009
Over 30 students were arrested Thursday after riots broke out at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo. Close to 1000 students, unhappy with exorbitant fees pegged in foreign currency, clashed with riot police who were armed with rubber truncheons, sjamboks, tear gas canisters and AK-47 assault rifles.
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AMERICAS

San José de Apartado: Colombian Peace community stands up for humanity
By: Raimondo Chiari, Upside Down World, April 20, 2009
Urabá has been major theater in Colombia’s forty years long and ongoing armed conflict. All armed actors are present in the region: the Colombian army, left-wing guerillas and, since the mid 1990s, ultra-right wing paramilitaries. The arm carriers are not only fighting for these fertile lands, but also for the control of this strategic corridor to Panama and the Pacific region of Chocó, indispensable to international drug traffic. Stuck in the middle, thousands of civilians have been killed, disappeared and displaced, stripped of their lands, accused of or forced into collaboration with one or another group. In this sea of violence however, there is an attempt to create an island of calm…
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Venezuelan opposition leader seeking asylum abroad
By: Fabiola Sanchez, AP, April 20, 2009
A leading opponent of President Hugo Chavez has decided to seek political asylum abroad rather than face a corruption charge in a trial he says would be stacked against him, an ally said Monday.
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US: Thousands attend Earth Day celebrations
By: Sandra Lemaire, VOA, April 20, 2009
An estimated 100,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Sunday, to celebrate Earth Day, an event promoting protection of the environment. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson came up with the idea for the first Earth Day in 1970. This year’s event, co-hosted by Earth Day Network and Green Apple Network, featured an eclectic lineup of musicians, celebrities, activists and politicians.
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US: Dalai Lama’s nephew walks more than 1,400 km for Tibet
By: The Times of India, April 19, 2009
A nephew of the Dalai Lama, has walked more than 1,400 km, criss crossing several American States from Indiana to New York to raise awareness about the Tibet’s issue and pay tribute to all those who have fought for their country’s independence.  The “Walk for Tibet” by Jigme Norbu, began from the Indianapolis City in Indiana on March 10, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan’s uprising, concluded with a rally led by him before Chinese Consulate in New York City.
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Obama urges Cuba to take concrete steps
By: Frances Robles, Miami Herald, April 19, 2009
President Barack Obama sent a clear message to Cuban leader Raúl Castro Sunday: It’s your turn. If Castro wants to start dialogue with the United States, he should start by releasing political prisoners and lowering the steep fees the Cuban government charges on money sent from abroad, Obama said.
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US: Tibetan publisher Paljor Norbu to receive Seventh Annual Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award
By: Association of American Publishers, April 16, 2009
Paljor Norbu, a courageous Tibetan printer and publisher, has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award. Paljor Norbu, who is currently in custody in Tibet, is being recognized for his commitment to Tibetan culture and publishing in the face of great political obstacles and personal peril over the past half century. Paljor Norbu was tried in secret, is believed to be serving a seven-year sentence, and his whereabouts are unknown to his family and friends. The annual award, given by the International Freedom to Publish Committee (IFTPC) of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), will be officially presented on April 28 at the PEN Annual Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
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Colombia: Indigenous people “have become a strong force”
By: Mario Osava, IPS, April 16, 2009
There is a heavy turnover of social movement leaders in Colombia, given the frequency with which they are killed, displaced or forced into exile. And because of the dangers, those who step up to the plate can be considered veritable heroes – one of whom is indigenous leader Aída Quilcué.
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Guatemala: The next to fall?
By: Mark Schneider, International Crisis Group, April 16, 2009
While U.S. attention has rightly been focused on Mexico’s drug wars – with high-profile trips by President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before this weekend’s Summit of the Americas – Mexico’s southern neighbor is in far more serious danger of becoming a failed state. Reeling from gangs, corruption and pervasive poverty, Guatemala now faces well-armed, well-financed drug cartels.
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Chile: Images of exile
By: Daniel Estrada, HRT, April 14, 2009
Painful images of the exile suffered by thousands of Chileans during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet and of the expressions of solidarity from the countries that took them in are presented in a new book with a prologue by internationally renowned writer Ariel Dorfman.
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Guatemala: Not with bullets or machetes
By: Carrie Comer, The Dominion, April 5, 2009
In a remote village bordering the Chixoy River in northern Guatemala, scores of people gather outside a wooden meeting hall. Mayan men, women and children face a video camera to demonstrate their resistance against the construction of the Xalala Dam, a mega-project promoted by the Guatemalan government which would flood an estimated minimum of 18 Indigenous villages and drastically affect many more.
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
What Burma needs from the White House
By: Desmond Tutu, Washington Post, April 20, 2009
When President Obama was elected, I was filled with hope that America would regain the moral standing to aid those who are impoverished and oppressed around the world. I have since rejoiced to see him reversing the most obnoxious policies of the Bush administration — by ending torture, announcing the closure of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay and engaging the world on climate change, to name just a few. But there is another issue on which America’s moral leadership is desperately needed, and here, it must be acknowledged, President Bush was on the side of the angels: the struggle for human rights and justice in Burma.
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Burma: Police refuse to arrest attackers of opposition members
By: DVB, April 20, 2009
Police have told opposition party members who were attacked by a mob led by a government official that their assailants will not be arrested because government authorities have not permissed them to do so. Two members of the National League for Democracy’s youth wing were attacked on 18 April whilst on their way to a religious new year ceremony in Rangoon’s Twente township.
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With censorship, Thais turn to web sites and foreign media
By: Marwaan Macan-Markar, IPS, April 19, 2009
When the Thai government imposed an emergency law cracking down on rampaging red-shirted protesters on the streets of Bangkok, the military, in combat gear, was not its only weapon. The state’s censors were given liberty to silence critical media. By the weekend, this climate of censorship had spread beyond the capital and five neighbouring provinces where the emergency decree is still in force. Community radio stations sympathetic to the anti-government ‘red-shirts’ in northern and northeastern provinces were raided by the police and closed down.
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Vietnam: Censored newspaper defiant
By: RFA, April 17, 2009
An editor of a Vietnamese newspaper closed for three months after it published articles related to a dispute with China over the Spratly and Paracel Islands says he would welcome a public debate on the suspension. “I do not understand what they were thinking in making such a decision,” Nguyen Quoc Thai, assistant editor in chief of Du Lich (Tourism) newspaper, which publishes twice a week, said in an interview. “I read all the articles they mentioned and found nothing wrong with them.”
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Burma: Comedians work around ban
By: RFA, April 17, 2009
Two of Burma’s leading comedians, known for their edgy political humor and barbs aimed at the military regime, say they’ve found a way around a ban that keeps them from performing in public. “We perform for tourists at home,” Lu Maw, of the Moustache Brothers comedy team, said in an interview. “Last night there were nine tourists, and the day before there were five. They will come again today as well.”
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China: List of community forums censored by Baidu and banned from discussion
By: China Digital Times, April 17, 2009
Baidu Post Bar, operated by the China’s leading search engine company, Baidu, is one of the country’s most popular online communities, where individual discussion communities (“post bars”) are generated by Baidu users based on common search keywords. Through these groups, users can instantly join a discussion thread about the keywords they search on Baidu. Users have established more than 1.2 million Baidu communities. Internet censorship is very strictly enforced in these communities.
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China: Netizen jailed for 8 days for mocking local government
By: China Digital Times, April 17, 2009
A 24 year-old netizen Wang Shuai was jailed for 8 days for posting pictures that mocked at illegal land requisition in Henan Ningbao county in 6 March. Latest update on 17 of April from http://news.jinghua.cn/351/c/200904/17/n2528699.shtml>jinhua.cn via sz7 in the comment: Henan province police chief apologized to Wang and he was given state compensation. And a case has been set up and the land requisition is currently under investigation.
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Lawlessness, political violence rising in Nepal
By: One World, April 16, 2009
Armed attacks, killings, abductions, and street violence are on the rise in Nepal, say human rights groups, warning that citizens have become increasingly frustrated by the Maoist-led government’s failure to deal with the security issues.
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Vietnam sentences 3 hill tribe protesters
By: Ben Stocking, silive.com, April 13, 2009
A court official in Vietnam says three ethnic minority villagers have been handed sentences of up to 12 years in jail for plotting anti-government protests.
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Obstacles to a successful civilian surge in Afghanistan
By: Richard Weitz, CACI, April 8, 2009
The Obama administration’s newly announced strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan aims to strengthen the American and, ideally, international efforts in that country along three dimensions: defense, diplomacy, and development. The defense component includes a major increase in the number of American combat troops operating in Afghanistan, whereas the diplomatic thrust employs a regional security approach that engages Pakistan, Iran, and other countries more deeply in resolving Afghanistan’s problems.
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