Nonviolent Action around the World – 25 September 2009 (Part 2)

September 25, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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CENTRAL ASIA
Georgia: Prominent oppositionists join forces for Tbilisi ballot
By: RFERL, September 23, 2009
Irakli Alasania, who stepped down  as Georgian ambassador to the UN in December 2008 and now heads the opposition Alliance for Georgia, and Sozar Subari, whose five-year term as human rights ombudsman expired earlier this month, will join forces to run in the Tbilisi mayoral and municipal council elections tentatively scheduled for May 30, 2010. Both men were previously close and loyal supporters of President Mikheil Saakashvili, but now criticize his apparent indifference to election fraud and egregious human rights violations on the part of the Interior Ministry and security services.
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Azerbaijan: Basic freedoms under attack
By: Soros.org, September 22, 2009
On July 8, 2009, prominent Azerbaijani bloggers and youth activists Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada were arrested after being attacked in Baku. Eyewitnesses report that the two were victims of assailants claiming to be offended by the “political content” of the activists’ discussion. Police released the attackers, while charging Milli and Hajizada with “hooliganism” and confining them to two months of pretrial detention. The incident (…) indicates a further narrowing of public space for free expression, and comes on the heels of government attempts to pass extremely restrictive amendments to legislation on NGOs and religion.
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TOP

 

EUROPE
Journalist honored by Norway rights group
By: RFERL, September 24, 2009
A Norwegian human rights group that has anticipated the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize four times has given its annual prize to an Azeri journalist. Malahat Nasibova was selected for her reporting on abuse of power, human rights violations, and corruption in the isolated Nakhchivan region in Azerbaijan, the Rafto Foundation said. “Nasibova has been a critical voice against the authorities for 10 years and she steadfastly refuses to give up the fight for freedom of speech,” the foundation said in a statement.
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UK: Banks meet activists to discuss Vedanta
By: Survival Internaional, September 24, 2009
An unprecedented meeting of bankers, NGOs and lawyers took place in London this week to discuss widespread concerns over British company Vedanta Resources’ mining operations. Representatives of Vedanta were invited, but did not attend. The meeting occurred shortly before the UK government is expected to rule on Survival’s formal complaint that Vedanta has breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises – the key principles for ethical corporate behaviour – over its treament of the Dongria Kondh tribe in Orissa, eastern India.
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Belarus: Oppositionists punished for memorial crosses
By: Chapter 97, September 24, 2009
On September 9 near Vilejka a memorial cross was erected with the words “To heroes of Belarus”. Administrative reports for participation in an unsanctioned event were drawn up against the democratic activists from Vilejka (Minsk region), who initiated construction of crosses in the place of execution of the founder and leader of Myadzel-Smarhon illegal youth anti-Soviet organisation, Rastsislau Lapitski.
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EU-Belarus: Can the thaw be for real?
By: Laurynas Kasciunas and Zivile Dambrauskaite, Open Democracy, September 23, 2009
Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenka has just paid his second visit to an EU country after more than a decade of ostracism by the international community.  Lithuania is Belarus’ “window on Europe”, but is this what Lukashenka wants? The EU requires more democracy and economic liberalisation, but only Russia can offer his regime any hope of survival, say Laurynas Kasciunas and Zivile Dambrauskaite.  During his visit the Belarusian leader met the Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite and attended the opening of the Lithuanian-Belarusian International Economic Forum “Belarus and the Baltic Sea States: new opportunities for enhanced cooperation”.  
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In Belarus, theater as activism
By: David Stern, NY Times, September 22, 2009
Welcome to the world of the Volny Teatr, or the Belarus Free Theater, the only unregistered – and therefore independent – dramatic collective in this nation of 10 million on Europe’s edge, which President Aleksandr Lukashenko has ruled since 1994. In this piece – a third act called “Numbers” that is part of a larger production, “Zone of Silence” – the troupe tries to bring to life, through mime, dance and metaphor, statistics that it presumes the authoritarian government would like to ignore or suppress. Because it is unregistered, the Free Theater is also illegal.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Islamic nonviolence – the Iranian example
By: Amitabh Pal, Altmuslim, September 25, 2009
Regardless of how things ultimately pan out in Iran, the protests against the election results in that country provided us yet another example of the use of nonviolent civil disobedience in the Islamic world. Indeed, defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi invoked the name of the ultimate icon of modern pacifism-Mahatma Gandhi-in urging his followers to fight on. He asked his supporters to “adopt the tactics of Gandhi, the tactics of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience,” said his spokesperson Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the acclaimed film director.
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West Bank: Nonviolent Palestinian activists arrested as Israel cracks down on wall protests
By: Ben White, Sojo, September 24, 2009  
Across the Occupied Territories, the Israeli military has been cracking down on Palestinian civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, particularly as it relates to the Separation Wall. Bil’in, a village now famous for its protests against the Wall that Desmond Tutu compared to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., has been repeatedly raided by Israeli soldiers, with nonviolent activists and their families intimidated, beaten, and snatched from their homes.
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Egypt: Mourners protest Islamic attacks on Copts in Egypt
By: Will Morris, Crosswalk.com, September 24, 2009
A funeral for a Coptic Christian gruesomely killed on a village street north of Cairo by a Muslim assailant last week turned into a protest by hundreds of demonstrators in Egypt. On Thursday afternoon (Sept. 17), about 1,000 people gathered at Georgy’s funeral to protest the killing and assaults on Coptic Christians. Protestors chanted that Georgy’s “blood was not [spilled] in vain” as they carried signs that read, “Where are you, government? The terrorists are going to kill us.”
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Egypt: Kefaya threatens to take Gamal Mubarak to court
By: Essam Fadl, Daily News Egypt, September 24, 2009
The Kefaya Movement for Change has taken serious measures to launch a legal battle against Gamal Mubarak, inquiring about the source of his wealth and accusing him of taking up political roles that they claim are unconstitutional. The movement formed a legal committee tasked with outlining the methods and mechanisms necessary to officially put the president’s son on trial…
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Saudi Arabia: Will new university bring freedoms?
By: Alexandra Sandels, LA Times, September 24, 2009
Saudi Arabia’s first coeducational university, a graduate research institution known as the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, is a test of “whether the kingdom is prepared to expand academic freedoms and women’s rights,” said Human Rights Watch. The Saudi-based English-language daily Arab News featured a glowing — some would say glorifying — account of the inauguration ceremony: The institution breaks a number of the Islamic kingdom’s social taboos, including allowing men and women to mix freely in classes and not forcing women to wear veils.
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We must engage with nonviolent Islamists
By: Inayat Bunglawala, The Guardian, September 23, 2009
The IPPR report acknowledges that Islamic political parties and movements “often represent the best organized and most popular opposition to existing authoritarian regimes in the Middle East”. Andy Hull, a senior research fellow at the IPPR says: The west has spent decades paying lip service to the idea of political freedoms while simultaneously propping up authoritarian leaders who lack democratic legitimacy across the region. This approach has hindered much-needed political reform … seeking by peaceful means a more plural politics in the Middle East and North Africa is in keeping with the UK’s interests and with its values.
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OCEANIA
Shocking images of Indonesian military sweeping operations against West Papuan civilians
By: Sentani, Free West Papua, September 25, 2009
Photographs have emerged of the brutal extrajudicial murder of civilians in Mulia, Puncak Jaya regency during a sweep by a joint Indonesian military (TNI) and BRIMOB police patrol. A brief text message arrived from unknown source said the killings were of civilians as a result of a sweep against alleged TPN/OPM members, and that the bodies were deliberately mutilated, burnt and hidden to prevent identification.
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Al Jazeera censors film about non-violent struggle in West Papua
By: Jason MacLeod, Free West Papua, September 22, 2009
Recently, I watched “Pride of Warriors”, a documentary about resistance in West Papua. The filmmaker, Jono Van Hest, had asked me to comment on the film’s content as he prepared it for public broadcast on Al Jazeera’s English language channel. Then, after an article about the film, which quoted Indonesian government sources, appeared in the Jakarta Post, “Pride of Warriors” was pulled from the roadcaster’s schedule.  Van Hest’s documentary was inspired by the arrival of 43 West Papuan refugees in Australia in January 2006. Faced with an Indonesian ban on foreign media, van Hest smuggled six video cameras into West Papua.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
The power of mobile money
By: The Economist, September 24, 2009
NCE the toys of rich yuppies, mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world’s poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship. All this has a direct impact on economic growth: an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. In Africa, four in ten people now have a mobile phone…
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Facebook fosters political engagement
By: IRevolution, September 22, 2009
Can online groups help to foster political engagement among citizens?  We employ a multi-method design incorporating content analysis of political group pages and original survey research of university undergraduates (n = 455) to assess the quality of online political group discussion and effects of online group membership on political engagement measured through political knowledge and political participation surrounding the 2008 election. We find through OLS and 2SLS multivariate regression analyses that participation in online political groups strongly predicts offline political participation by engaging members online. 
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Report: New media and social change, how nonprofits are using web-based technologies to reach their goals
By: John Nelson, The Hatcher Group, Fall 2009
With the traditional media in flux, nonprofit groups are increasingly turning to alternative means to reach the public. At the same time, self-publishing and social media platforms on the Internet are experiencing explosive growth rates and new prominence. To understand the relationship between these trends, The Hatcher Group set out to examine how a group of nonprofits working on state-level advocacy issues are using new media technologies to promote their agendas.
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Tactic – Twitter and citizen driven info-sharing
By: Talia Whyte, GigiActive, September 13, 2009
What was unique about this incident were the offline connections made afterward. A local Jakarta radio station hosted a party for all the “Twitterati” who participated in the online activism to put faces to the Twitter handles and hastags, and start “a movement beyond the social network.” There is also a website now dedicated to buidling upon these relationships.  “There are many other ’causes’ that will make use of the new medium,” said Sari. “And with the internet universe being flat, the social network media will also become the democratizing means for Indonesia, and for the world.
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Evgeny Morozov – how the net aids dictatorships
By: Ted.com, September, 2009
TED Fellow and journalist Evgeny Morozov punctures what he calls “iPod liberalism” — the assumption that tech innovation always promotes freedom, democracy — with chilling examples of ways the Internet helps oppressive regimes stifle dissent.
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NEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES
Un pays étouffé par la violence
By: Courrier International, September 16, 2009
La vague de violence et d’homicides que connaît le Salvador ne connaît pas de fin. Entre 12 et 14  personnes sont tuées chaque jour, un chiffre presque aussi élevé que durant la guerre civile des années 1980, lorsque les combats entre soldats et guérilleros faisaient entre 15 et 17 morts par jour”, constate El País. Selon des statistiques du ministère de la Justice et de la Police, il y a eu 2 992 assassinats entre le 1er janvier et le 13 septembre 2009….
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Toujours la corruption
By: Leïla Slimani, Jeune Afrique, September 2, 2009
La corruption continue de freiner le développement économique et social du Maroc. C’est ce que souligne le rapport de Transparency Maroc rendu public le 2 février. Certes, la création, en novembre 2008, d’une Instance centrale de prévention de la corruption puis le vote d’une loi contraignant les agents du service public et les élus à déclarer leur patrimoine constituent des signaux positifs, mais ils n’ont pas encore produit leurs effets. Avec un indice de 3,5, le Maroc dégringole à la 80e place du palmarès de la « perception de la corruption », largement devancé par la Tunisie et la Jordanie…
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NOTICES
Take it to Washington – Journalism and civil resistance
By: Al Giordano, The Field, September 24, 2009
Protests and resistance, are the media missing the real story? Fellow and sister journalists: If you want our craft to survive, if you want our children and grandchildren to respect what you did in this vocation, or maybe even continue with it, you had better learn to look below and understand how civil resistance really works.
For more information…

Help Narco News keep instilling the work of journalists with a sense of purpose
By: Belén Fernández, Narco News, September 24, 2009
I began writing for Narco News in August of this year after meeting Narco News and School of Authentic Journalism director Al Giordano in Honduras, where I had come on a whim and on my own to report the military coup against President Mel Zelaya. The whimsical and solitary aspects of the venture were rapidly dispensed with as Narco News instilled my work with a sense of purpose and as Al – with his relentless quest for the truth and attention to his writers – provided me with real-time access to an elite level of journalistic instruction.
For more information…

Art spaces hosting activism and strengthening community engagement
By: New Tactics, September 2, 2009
Join us NOW – September 23 to 29 – to share your own experiences, questions and stories!The on-line dialogue will feature freeDimensional network members sharing the creative ways in which art spaces can and do provide safe havens for activists, share technical tools and training, support and guidance, and engage in social justice issues in their communities and through fD’s social justice network.
For more information…

Training and manuals
By: Frontline, September 2009
Although many human rights defenders face very severe risks as a result of their work they often don’t give adequate attention to their own security. Their main focus is the human rights of others. They are generally overloaded with work and other commitments. They sometimes don’t feel there is anything they can do which will make a difference. In response to concerns expressed by human rights defenders about the challenges of addressing more effectively issues around security Front Line has developed a program of capacity building activities and resources in cooperation with other organizations.
For more information…