Nonviolent action around the world – 22 December 2009 (Part 1)

December 22, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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CENTRAL ASIA
Kyrgyz cartoon targets corruption
By: Al Jazeera, December 21, 2009
A new children’s television cartoon is being launched in Kyrgyzstan with a very grown up purpose – to fight endemic corruption in the country. The story revolves around five children who stumble on a world where bribery and police intimidation rule.
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Kazakh police say Kyrgyz journalist thrown from building
By: RFE, December 21, 2009
Police have said Kyrgyz journalist Gennady Pavlyuk’s hands and feet were bound when he was found unconscious after apparently being thrown from the window of a sixth-floor apartment, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports. Almaty City Interior Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Lysenko told RFE/RL that Pavlyuk was found in very grave condition on December 16 and he had masking tape around his hands and feet. Pavlyuk is the third ethnic Russian journalist from Kyrgyzstan to have been attacked or seriously injured in the past two weeks.
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Media restrictions in Azerbaijan criticized
By: BBC, December 21, 2009
The European Parliament and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have strongly condemned Azerbaijan for tightening restrictions on the media. The high profile criticism comes after two activists and bloggers were jailed for at least two years each in November.
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Uzbek refugees in Sweden rally for jailed Muslim women
By: RFE, December 17, 2009
Dozens of Uzbek refugees held a protest in Stockholm to support jailed Muslim women in Uzbekistan, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reports. Exiled Uzbek imam Obidkhon Qori Nazarov told RFE/RL that the protest at the central Medborgplatsen square on December 16 was organized after the Uzbek community received news that 30 Muslim women were jailed in the southern Uzbek city of Karshi in November. He said the protesters wanted to express their condemnation of the Uzbek officials’ actions and their support for the jailed women.
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TOP

EAST ASIA
Social unrest ‘on the rise’ in China
By: BBC, December 21, 2009
Social unrest is on the rise in China, according to an analysis by a Chinese think-tank. The country is grappling with more acute social problems than ever before, according to a report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The authors believe deep resentment has been accumulating over the past few decades against unfairness and power abuses by government officials at various levels. They quote six large-scale popular protests – from taxi strikes to unrest in central China in June – involving tens of thousands of people.
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Protestors stage macabre Hong Kong protest over Copenhagen accord
By: Monsters and Critics News, December 21, 2009
A group of Greenpeace protestors on Monday placed 100 white crosses on Hong Kong’s main war memorial to protest the weekend outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks. Dressed in black, the two dozen protestors crossed onto a piece of ground in Hong Kong’s Central district that is closed to the public to perform the protest at the Cenotaph memorial. As they erected the white crosses, they tolled a brass bell to mourn those who they argued would die as a result of continuing global warming that world leaders should have prevented in Copenhagen.
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Leading China dissident to be tried Wednesday
By: Marianne Barriaux, AP, December 20, 2009
Leading Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo will be tried Wednesday on subversion charges, his wife and lawyer said, more than a year after he was detained following his role in a bold pro-democracy petition. The trial will take place at the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court, according to Liu Xia, who said she planned to wait outside the courthouse if she is denied entry. Rights groups in China have said they fear that officials will rush the case through the courts during the Western holiday season in a bid to attract less global attention.
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Thousands protest in Taiwan over China trade talks
By: The Epoch Times, December 20, 2009
Thousands of people marched in Taiwan on Sunday to protest against warming ties with political rival China, a day before Beijing’s top negotiator arrives on the island for talks on a landmark free trade pact. Noisy marchers distrustful of communist China’s intentions for Taiwan walked for hours along roads in Taichung in the centre of the export-reliant, self-ruled island China claims as its own.
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American petitioner in China
By: Andy Yee, Global Voices Online, December 19, 2009
Julie Harms, an American and a Harvard graduate, hit the news as she becomes one of the few, or perhaps the first, foreign petitioner in China. Her case was a grievance against the government that her fiancé, Liu Shiliang, was jailed on a charge which she says is not true. Julie decided to resort to the petition system in Beijing this year as she feels that the local judicial system has failed to resolve the dispute with justice.
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SOUTH ASIA
Sri Lanka: On Lasantha, media freedom and human rights
By: Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, December 21, 2009
To commemorate Human Rights Day 2009 (falling on 10 December) Groundviews interviewed a number of leading activists in Sri Lanka to find out their perspectives on current challenges facing human rights in post-war Sri Lanka. In general, activists featured were asked to comment on the Sri Lankan State’s protection of human rights, the nexus between human rights and human dignity and opportunities for greater human rights protection over the coming years.
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Mobile bulletin for Indian villages
By: One World, December 21, 2009
Gaon Ki Awaaz, an audio bulletin broadcast through mobile phones in the hinterlands of central India, has enlivened the sleepy villages. Appearing twice a day in local language, it provides essential information to farmers and keeps villagers updated on local happenings. Until now, the village’s busybodies used to keep them informed. But now they have a new source of information – Gaon Ki Awaaz (The Village Voice), a pathbreaking audio bulletin broadcast on their mobile phones that comes for free.
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Nepal’s peace process in peril
By: One World, December 21, 2009
Nepalese riot police officers wielding batons and firing canisters of tear gas clashed Sunday with Maoist sympathizers in Kathmandu, as the Maoists staged their largest protests since abandoning the government seven months ago. The violence was a new sign that the stalled peace process was unraveling altogether. It started as Maoists blocked roads into Kathmandu, the capital, as part of a three-day general strike called to protest President Ram Baran Yadav and demand a restoration of their political power.
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SOUTHEAST ASIA
Burma to review Aung San Suu Kyi sentence
By: BBC, December 21, 2009
The Supreme Court in Burma has agreed to a request from the pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to hear an appeal against her latest detention. Aung San Suu Kyi was not in court to hear the case made on her behalf, nor were any journalists or other independent observers. But her lawyers told reporters that their request for an appeal hearing had been granted, although no date has yet been set.
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Burma: Beneath the surface
By: Al Jazeera, December 21, 2009
Two years ago the world watched in dismay as Myanmar’s military junta brutally crushed the so-called Saffron Revolution. It was the only show of mass opposition to have occurred inside the country in almost 20 years. Filmmaker Hazel Chandler entered the country undercover for People & Power, to find out how Myanmar’s people are fairing, and to investigate disturbing claims that the regime may be trying to develop nuclear weapons. This episode of People & Power can be seen from Wednesday, December 23, 2009, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 0600, 1230; Thursday: 0130, 1400, 1930; Friday: 0630, 1630; Saturday: 0330, 2030; Sunday: 0030, 0530; Monday: 0830.
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Nobel Laureate’s Burma visit: ‘Moment of hope’?
By: Stanislaus Chan, IPS News, December 21, 2009
To activists more accustomed to working against Burma’s military junta than with it, any engagement with the recalcitrant regime will amount to nothing. But to 2001 Nobel Prize winner Josepth Stiglitz, it is a window of opportunity for a country that has known only poverty and repression. At a press conference organised here Monday by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Stiglitz expressed optimism over the prospects for change in Burma’s rural economy. “In general, there is the hope that this is the moment of change for the country,” Stiglitz said.
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Vietnamese Buddhists seek asylum in France
By: Justin McCurry, The Guardian, December 17, 2009
Hundreds of Vietnamese followers of a radical Buddhist leader have called on the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to grant them temporary asylum, a week after they were attacked by vigilantes allegedly hired by the Vietnamese authorities. About 380 young monks and nuns were forced to flee Bat Nha monastery in central Lam Dong province at the end of September after the authorities reacted angrily to a call by their exiled spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, to end religious intolerance and disband the country’s notorious A41 religious police.
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Vietnam: End attacks on Bat Nha Buddhists
By: Human Rights Watch, December 16, 2009
Heavy-handed tactics by Vietnam’s central government to disband followers of Thich Nhat Hanh, a prominent Buddhist monk who has called for religious reforms, illustrate Vietnam’s ongoing contempt for human rights and religious freedom, Human Rights Watch said today. For three days, beginning December 9, 2009, orchestrated mobs that included undercover police and local communist party officials terrorized and assaulted several hundred monks and nuns at Phuoc Hue pagoda in central Lam Dong province. Phuoc Hue’s abbot has provided sanctuary to the monastics since late September, when police and civilian mobs violently expelled them from their own monastery of Bat Nha, located in the same commune.
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EUROPE
French farmers lay hay in protest
By: Al Jazeera, December 17, 2009
A group of French farmers have dumped piles of hay in front of the French presidential palace in protest of falling food prices and demanded more help from the government. Police used tear gas to push back about 100 demonstrators from the Young Farmers union who unfurled a large banner saying “angry farmers.” French farmers are in debt and are facing difficulties as food prices have fallen from record highs in 2007.
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Belarus: More democratization needed before sanctions are lifted
By: European Parliament, December 17, 2009
MEPs have given their backing to the Council’s recent decision to prolong sanctions against certain Belarusian officials whilst suspending the application of travel restrictions until October 2010. More needs to be done to guarantee media freedom, reform the electoral code and abolish the death penalty before the sanctions can be completely lifted, says a resolution adopted on Thursday.
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Belarus strongman ‘to increase internet control’
By: AFP, December 16, 2009
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has issued a decree to tighten state control over the Internet in the former Soviet republic, the Nasha Niva independent newspaper said Wednesday. The draft “decree on protecting vitally important interests of the individual, society and the state,” would set up a presidential “operative and analytical centre” to regulate the Internet, the paper said. The centre would control registration of addresses in the national domain and restrict information on the Internet, which has become the only forum for opposition debate amid state control of almost all media.
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Ukraine and Georgia after their color revolutions
By: Inge Snip, Evolutsia, December 11, 2009
The beginning of the 21st century saw a wave of color-revolutions hit several former Soviet republics and regions, nonviolently sweeping away dictatorial regimes in a number of independent countries. In both Ukraine and Georgia, where the respective ‘Orange’ and ‘Rose’ revolutions took place, the revolutions opened for those countries the real prospect of free and democratic environments. In addition, the international community applauded these nonviolent regime changes, stoking euphoria and genuine hope for their futures.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Funeral for Iranian cleric turns into a vast protest
By: Robert Worth, NY Times, December 21, 2009
The funeral of a founding father of Iran’s Islamic revolution now embraced as the spiritual leader of the reform movement became a vast opposition protest on Monday, as mourners flooded the holy city of Qum and faced off with Iranian security forces and the volunteer Basij militia. Photographs from Iran and witnesses reached by phone and e-mail indicated that the mourners numbered at least in the tens of thousands. Iranian opposition Web sites said there had been clashes outside Mr. Montazeri’s home in Qum. Another report said members of the Basij militia had torn down funeral banners at Mr. Montazeri’s home.
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Dissident cleric Hossein Ali Montazeri mourned in Iran
By: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, December 21, 2009
Thousands of supporters of Iran’s most senior dissident cleric marched through streets in his hometown and descended upon the country’s main theological center Sunday to mourn his passing just days before the climax of a politically charged religious commemoration. Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a pillar of the Islamic Revolution three decades ago who became a staunch defender of the nation’s current opposition movement, died late Saturday of complications from advanced age, diabetes and asthma, his doctor told state television. His death could further galvanize the protest movement that grew out of disputed presidential elections in June but that has been driven as much by raw emotion over perceived injustice as by rational political calculation.
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Filling Montazeri’s shoes in Iran
By: Meir Javendanfar, The Guardian, December 21, 2009
The death of Grand Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri was good news for Iran’s supreme leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei. With his passing, one of his biggest religious opponents is now out of the way. These days, Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, who is also a critic of the current administration, is considered as the second best alternative to Montazeri. But in terms of lending religious credentials to the opposition, it will be a tall order for the 72-year-old ayatollah to fill Montazeri’s shoes. The death of Grand Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri is a loss for the opposition in Iran. However, much like his legacy, they will march on.
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Egypt says it will block International Gaza Freedom marchers
By: Robert Naiman, Huffington Post, December 21, 2009
On December 31, together with more than 1000 peace advocates from around the world, I’m planning to join tens of thousands of Palestinians in a march in Gaza to the Erez border crossing to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and to demand international action to relieve Gaza’s humanitarian crisis. Unfortunately, it appears that the Egyptian government has just announced that it will not allow the internationals to enter Gaza as planned.
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Israel continues its assault on Palestinian nonviolent leaders
By: Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss, December 20, 2009
Israel’s campaign against Palestinian nonviolent grassroots activists is continuing. The latest leader to be arrested is Jamal Juma’. Juma’ has been the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign since 2002. His arrests follows those of Mohammad Othman, who had been promoting BDS in Europe, and Abdallah Abu Rahmah a leader of the weekly nonviolent protests against the wall in Bil’in.
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West Bank: Israeli army invades Bil’in
By: Saed Bannoura, South Lebanon, December 20, 2009
Israeli soldiers invaded on Saturday at night the village of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and broke into two homes. The Friends of Freedom and Justice – Bil’in, reported that this is the second attack in two nights, as the army invaded the village on Friday at night after the villagers and their Israeli and international supporters held their weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall. During the Saturday night attack, Israeli soldiers broke into two homes forcing the families out and violently searched the properties.
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Iran: White House statement on Ayatollah Montazeri’s death
By: Office of the Press Secretary, December 20, 2009
Statement on passing of Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri by National Security Spokesman Mike Hammer: We express our condolences on the passing of Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. He was known and internationally respected for his unwavering commitment to universal rights. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who seek to exercise the universal rights and freedoms that he so consistently advocated.
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Iran: Widespread arrests in wake of Ayatollah Montazeri’s death
By: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, December 20, 2009
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called on the Iranian government not to interfere with mourning ceremonies following the passing away of the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri in Qom and to end persecution and detention of his followers. The Campaign is seriously concerned that the government might target Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s followers through a wave of detentions.
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Iran admits prisoners were beaten to death
By: RFE, December 20, 2009
Iran’s judiciary has released a statement acknowledging that at least three prisoners detained after the disputed June 12 presidential election died as a result of being beaten by their jailers. The December 19 judiciary statement said indictments have been issued against 12 officials in charge of Kahrizak detention center, located south of the capital Tehran. Three of those charged are facing murder charges.
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Iran: Revolution of the mind
By: Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, December 20, 2009
To the residents of East Boston, the faded townhouse on a working class block is just a house. But to Iran’s ruling regime, it is the epicenter of a foreign plot to overthrow its Islamic government. The house belongs to Gene Sharp, an 81-year-old author whose books on the use of nonviolent methods to undermine authoritarian rule have been read by would-be revolutionaries all over the world.
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Iran: BBC says Persian service being jammed
By: AFP, December 20, 2009
The BBC said Monday that its Persian television signal was being jammed, adding that it was continuing to broadcast into Iran. The British Broadcasting Corporation said its service for Persian speakers began facing persistent interference after it began coverage of the death of Iran’s top dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri.
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Iran vows to punish unauthorized filmmakers
By: Julie Bloom, NY Times, December 20, 2009
After several unauthorized Iranian films gained international attention this year, the government has announced that it will punish filmmakers who do not obtain approval for their work, Agence France-Presse reported. “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” a film about the underground music scene in Iran from the director Bahman Ghobadi, which won a jury award in Cannes, is just one of several films that has provoked a crackdown on directors and actors in the country.
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Confronting history, and the IRGC, in Iran

By: Babak Yektafa, World Politics Review, December 9, 2009
In the summer of 1999, during one of the most notable periods of social unrest in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an ominous letter signed by 24 leaders of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Corps (also known as the IRGC or Sepah e Pasdaran) was delivered to then-President Mohammad Khatami. In what amounted to an ultimatum, the IRGC leaders expressed their grave concern about the direction taken by the reformist movement, which at the time controlled both the legislative and executive branches of the Iranian government. That infamous letter, reportedly delivered with the full knowledge of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, effectively tipped the balance of the debate regarding the future of the Islamic Republic. Significantly, many of the officers behind it have played prominent roles in confronting the current upheaval in Iran.
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