Nonviolent Action around the World – 27 May 2009 (Part 1)

May 27, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA

Sudan opposition parties revive alliances, calls for new government
By: Sudan Tribune, May 26, 2009
An alliance of opposition parties have emerged in Sudan calling for the current government to step down ahead of the February 2010 elections. The extraordinary move of the 17 parties forming the alliance, will likely increase political tensions as the national assembly is deliberating over some laws that witnessed intense debate between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and opposition parties.
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Africa: More political freedom brings more wealth, says study
By: All Africa, May 25, 2009
African nations which expand their political freedoms also reduce poverty, according to a major new study published today. In a survey of selected countries across the continent, the study also finds that between 2000 and 2008, poverty decreased in Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia but grew in Benin, Botswana, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe.
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Zimbabwe journalists union urges members to defy information ministry
By: Jonga Kandemiiri, VOA News, May 25, 2009
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists has urged its members to ignore instructions from the Ministry of Information to register with the Media and Information Commission to cover this week’s summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or Comesa. The union said journalists should not register until a legally constituted accreditation body has been put in place. The Media and Information Commission was dissolved in 2008 and is to to be replaced by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which has yet to be constituted.
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Zimbabwe in transition: A 100-day report card
By: Time, May 23, 2009
It’s been 100 days since Zimbabwe passed from crisis into the hands of the strange and strained partnership of the President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled autocratically since 1987, and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe in a controversial election last year but, despite intense international pressure, was not able to oust him from power. Not everything is bad. Tsvangirai has made some progress in resurrecting Zimbabwe’s all-but-dead economy. Schools that closed in September last year after teachers went on strike have re-opened.
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Sudan: Call for amendments to harsh new press law
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 21, 2009
Reporters Without Borders and Sudanese lawyer and parliamentarian, Salih Mahmoud Osman, have made a plea for amendments to be made to a harsh draft law on the written press currently going through parliament. The proposed law provides for heavy fines of up to 50,000 Sudanese pounds (21,500 US dollars) against “offending” publications and journalists without detailing what offences would be punished.
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TOP

 

AMERICAS

Venezuela: Keeping the internet as a priority
By: Laura Vidal, Global Voices, May 26, 2009
When the Venezuelan government emitted Decree No. 6649, it raised red flags within the online community concerned about the possible effects to education, research and other fields important to development. The decree seeks to eliminate “luxuries” or “superfluous expenses” among the public expenditure, among which includes the Internet. As a result, the online campaign Internet Prioritaria [es] was created with the opinion that Internet is a basic need.
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International groups worry over Venezuela’s stance on free press
By: Arthur Brice, CNN, May 26, 2009
The United Nations and the Organization of American States said Saturday they are worried over Venezuelan government statements about an independent TV station that has criticized President Hugo Chavez. In a joint release, freedom of expression investigators Frank LaRue of the U.N. and Catalina Botero of the O.A.S. “express their concern in light of the statements made by the highest-level government authorities, which generate an atmosphere of intimidation in which the right to freedom of expression is seriously limited.”
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US: Charges dropped against national campaign for nonviolent resistance members
By: Max Obuszewski, After Downing Street, May 26, 2009
Activists from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] regularly try to speak truth to power. For example, seven members of the NCNR went to the Pentagon on the morning of March 17, 2009 to seek a meeting with Secretary of War Robert Gates. Within twelve minutes of getting off the Metro, we were cuffed and stuffed in Pentagon Police vehicles.
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Bolivia marks freedom bicentenary
By: BBC News, May 25, 2009
Bolivians marked the 200th anniversary of their country’s uprising against Spanish rule with rival ceremonies in different parts of the country. Addressing the nation, President Evo Morales said that Latin Americans were engaged in a second struggle for liberation against capitalism. Meanwhile, the opposition held parades in the constitutional capital Sucre. Bolivia is the first of many South American states that will celebrate bicentennials in the next few years.
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Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire detained by US homeland security
By: Signs of the Times, May 25, 2009
On Friday 17th May, 2009, Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate, was detained on her entry into Houston Airport, USA, by Homeland Security Immigration. Maguire was on her way home to Northern Ireland, after attending a 3 day conference in Guatemala, which was hosted by herself and three Sister Nobel Peace Laureates. Upon release Maguire said: “This kind of behaviour and treatment is unacceptable. They questioned me about my nonviolent protests in USA against the Afghanistan invasion and Iraqi war. They insisted I must tick the box in the Immigration form admitting to criminal activities. I am not a criminal.”
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Canada: Deaf students demonstrate against inequity at Ontario universities
By: John Bonnar, Rabble, May 24, 2009
At a protest outside the Accessibility Services building on Wednesday at the University of Toronto (U of T), students described the inequity and inaccessibility issues Deaf people face at some Ontario universities, as they pushed for policy and budgetary changes to improve the quality of interpreter services. Rally organizer Jenny Blaser has encountered numerous support problems at U of T. The first year linguistics and equity studies major was forced to drop courses when no interpreter was available.
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US: 17 arrested in mountaintop removal protests
By: WV Gazette, May 23, 2009
Seventeen people were arrested protesting mountaintop-removal mines at three sites in Southern West Virginia Saturday. But police refused to arrest former Congressman Ken Hechler, D-W.Va., despite the fact he also trespassed on a Massey Energy mine, according to Mountain Justice spokesman Charles Suggs. It’s the largest number of people arrested this year in an ongoing series of nonviolent protests against mountaintop-removal mining in West Virginia.
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Guatemala: The people of San Miguel Ixtahuacan are waking up
By: Mimundo, May 22, 2009
Canadian mining giant Goldcorp held its annual shareholder’s meeting on Friday, May 22nd, in Vancouver’s financial district. Simultaneously, hundreds of community members from San Miguel Ixtahuacan, where Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine operates, marched through the streets of Guatemala City so as to protest the corporation’s activities in the Guatemalan highlands. The day before the march, a press conference was held where “community leaders accused Montana Exploradora of carrying out a fear campaign in their local villages using threats and land usurpation so as to coerce local residents to sell their lands.”
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The price of democracy in Brazil
By: Arthur Ituassu, openDemocracy, May 21, 2009
Between Brazil’s local realities and its global reach, the president is now moving towards the end of his second and final term of office. The next election will be held on 3 October 2010, which leaves Lula limited time to entrench a national legacy that has so far won wide domestic as well as international acclaim. How then will Lula’s contribution be judged here across the entire canvas of his presidency: in terms of the prosperity of Brazil’s citizens, the influence and prestige of the country, and the quality of Brazilian democracy?
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA

Thai protest group votes to form a political party
By: James Hookway, Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2009
Members of Thailand’s yellow-shirt protest movement voted to form a political party, creating a potentially influential force as the country struggles to pull itself out of recession. Tens of thousands of members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy — a movement instrumental in bringing down two governments — converged on a sports stadium in this town near Bangkok on Monday and voted to transform the grass-roots campaign against corruption into a formal political party.
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Aung San Suu Kyi tells Burmese court she did not break terms of house arrest
By: Justin McCurry, Guardian UK, May 26, 2009
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader, told a court today that she had no prior knowledge of an American man’s plan to visit her home in Rangoon and had not broken the terms of her house arrest. She faces up to five years in prison for allowing John Yettaw to spend two days at her lakeside compound earlier this month. She has already spent 13 of the last 19 years in detention.
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Trial may further isolate Burma
By: Tim Johnston, Washington Post, May 26, 2009
The decision by Burma’s government to put Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate, on trial has chilled relations with some of the ruling military junta’s traditional allies and made it less like likely that international sanctions against the nation will be eased, according to U.S., European and Asian officials. The issue has dominated the two-day Asia-Europe Meeting, which is being held in Hanoi this week.
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Pakistani court lifts ban on opposition leader
By: Salman Masood, NY Times, May 26, 2009
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the opposition leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could run in parliamentary elections and hold public office, reversing a decision that had plunged Pakistan into political crisis and led to widespread protests. A five-member panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Tassadaq Hussain Gilani lifted the ban on Mr. Sharif and his younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, after hearing a review petition the brothers filed in May.
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Maldives: How can seeking justice be undemocratic?
By: Dhivehi Observer, May 26, 2009
“Exactly. Seeking justice is what democracy is all about.” In a response to the reaction from the party of the ousted dictator regarding the arrest of Jangiya Nazim’s wife last night, the Press Secretary at the President Office, Mohamed Zuhair, gave this very simple but hearty response. We all know how the ousted dictator and his cronies stifled millions from the treasury, under the corrupt system of government that lasted more than three decades. Since the new government of the first democratic and directly elected President of the country took office, the public has been calling for the leaders of the former regime to be brought to justice.
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Maldives: Opposition MP condemns raid as politically motivated
By: Ibrahim Mohamed and Maryam Omidi, Minivan News, May 25, 2009
The opposition MP whose office was raided by police yesterday arrived back in the Maldives this evening, condemning the search as politically motivated. Ahmed Nazim, deputy leader of opposition People’s Alliance (PA), said the government was destroying both his public image and his political career. “I want to say that what we are seeing is something very depressing. The government is attacking opponents personally, attacking their families and seizing their property,” said Nazim addressing press at Male’ International Airport.
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Pakistan rally against Swat assault
By: Al Jazeera, May 25, 2009
Hundreds of supporters of Pakistan’s opposition Jamaat-i-Islami party have demonstrated in what is believed to be the first major protest against the military’s offensive against the Taliban in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The demonstration in the capital, Islamabad, on Sunday took place as the army fought bloody street-to-street battles in Mingora, the main city in the Swat valley. “To this point there has been absolutely total political support for the ongoing operation in Swat valley,” Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Islamabad, said. “But now there is the first sign that there are sectors in society who are opposed to what is going on.”
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East Timor: The forgotten people
By: Bruce Clark, Salient, May 25, 2009
We are all familiar with Indonesia’s terrible record of human rights abuse in East Timor, a sorry tale of oppression, murder and torture. East Timor became something of a cause celebre, as the world woke up to the facts of Indonesia’s illegal invasion, harsh occupation and, finally, the rights of its people to self-determination. What we more easily forget is that while this murder and mayhem was being perpetrated by the Indonesian forces, the West, our own enlightened government and that of Australia, had for a generation or more turned a blind eye to the atrocities.
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Chinese underground churches expose rift
By: CNN, May 25, 2009
Unregistered churches are attracting millions of worshippers in China, exposing an enduring rift between the government and the Vatican. China broke off relations with the Vatican under Chairman Mao but over the past couple of years ties seemed to be warming up. A state-controlled church is popular, but the underground parishioners say it is not the real church. From the state’s perspective, these believers are loyal to the pope, not the Communist Party.
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Detained Burmese migrants stage hunger strike
By: Ahunt Phone Myat, Democratic Voice of Burma, May 25, 2009
Around 600 Burmese migrants being held in poor conditions in a Malaysian detention centre staged a hunger strike last week in protest against their denial of access to United Nations refugee officials. The three-day strike took place at Malaysia’s Semenyih immigration centre, where around 1500 migrants of varying nationalities, including Vietnamese, Nigerian and Indian, are held. The strike ended on 21 May.
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Philippines: The end of an age
By: John Mangun, Business Mirror, May 25, 2009
Certain events are of such magnitude and importance that when they sweep across a nation, the country is changed, sometimes permanently. The 1986 Edsa revolution changed the Philippines in three dramatic ways. A realization suddenly dawned on the people that despite overwhelming odds, a government could be changed by the sheer will of the people through their numbers. This empowerment became apparent in 2001 when again a government could not stand against loud voices calling for change even if those voices did not constitute a majority of the citizens.
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Standoff at Tibet gold mine
By: Radio Free Asia, May 24, 2009
Hundreds of villagers in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of western China are facing off against armed security forces at the site of a planned gold mine on what the Tibetans consider a sacred mountain, witnesses say. “The Tibetan protesters are worried,” said one local man, who said he was one of eight organizers of the protest. “The police, the soldiers, and the miners are threatening to move ahead with the mine…They have said they will force their way through and go to the site.”
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Chinese campaign reports quake victims
By: DigiActive, May 21, 2009
On May 12, 2008, an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale shook China’s Sichuan province, killing at least 68,000 people. Unlike surrounding buildings, many of which survived, the schools were particularly vulnerable because of shoddy workmanship. Shortly after the quake, prominent Chinese artist and blogger Ai Weiwei visited the quake site and blogged about what he saw. On December 15, 2008 Ai formally announced a campaign to collect the names of all children who had died in the quake before the one-year anniversary on in May 2009.
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