Nonviolent action around the world – 29 December 2009 (Part 2)

December 29, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA
Niger vows to arrest exiled opposition leaders
By: BBC News, December 24, 2009
Niger has reactivated arrest warrants against three exiled opposition leaders – including a former president. The move jeopardises talks aimed at ending a crisis sparked when President Mamadou Tandja changed the constitution so he could stand for a third term.
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Protests over amnesty delays hit Nigeria oil delta
By: Austin Ekeinde and Segun Owen, Mail and Guardian, December 23, 2009
Security forces have deployed in two cities in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta in the past two days to disperse former militants protesting over the non-payment of amnesty allowances. Activists say the government is not keeping the promises it made during an amnesty period earlier this year and that the region, which is home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry, risks returning to violence.
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Zimbabwe: Mugabe’s workers storm Nestle headquarters in Harare
By: Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa, December 18, 2009
Six workers employed by Grace Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy Estates, stormed the headquarters of dairy giant Nestle in Harare, demanding that the company resume accepting milk from the farm. In October this year pressure from human rights groups forced Nestle to stop accepting milk from Grace’s farm. Human rights campaigners accused Nestle of funding repression by doing business with the First Lady and dubbed her produce ‘blood milk’.
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CENTRAL ASIA
Uzbekistan cracking down on dissent
By: RFE, December 23, 2009
A U.S. rights watchdog says Uzbekistan has intensified attacks against rights activists ahead of this week’s parliamentary election. Freedom House said it was “deeply troubled by an intensified crackdown on human rights defenders in Uzbekistan.” The Washington-based group also accused Uzbekistan of not making “any credible efforts to reverse its brutal and sustained repression of civil society.”
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Azerbaijan: Bloggers appeal conviction as Europe slams Baku on media rights
By: Jessica Powley Hayden, EurasiaNet, December 22, 2009
Preliminary proceedings began on December 22 for two Azerbaijani bloggers and youth activists who were convicted last month on hooliganism charges. The appeal proceedings will take place against a backdrop of increasingly vocal international criticism against Azerbaijan’s media policy. After a lengthy trial, the pair received prison sentences of two years and two and a half years, respectively.
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15 human rights organizations demand to stop political abductions in Belarus
By: Charter97, December 18, 2009
Representatives of the Human Rights House Network sent a statement to the Belarusian authorities regarding a number of abductions of opposition activists. The letter says human rights guaranteed by the Constitution are being violated in Belarus. It also calls to respect norms of international obligations, ratified by the country, BelaPAN reports.
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EAST ASIA
Chinese dissident’s jailing draws international anger
By: BBC News, December 25, 2009
There has been widespread condemnation of the jailing by China of leading dissident, Liu Xiaobo, for subversion. The US, UN and EU were joined by human rights groups in a chorus of anger over Mr Liu’s 11-year sentence. The UN human rights commissioner said it was “extremely harsh”, and cast an ominous shadow over China’s commitments to protect human rights.
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Leading China dissident gets 11-Year term for subversion
By: Andrew Jacobs, NY Times, December 24, 2009
In an unequivocal rebuke to those pursuing political reforms, a Chinese court on Friday sentenced one of the country’s best-known dissidents to 11 years in prison for subversion. Liu Xiaobo, 53, a former literature professor and a dogged critic of China’s single-party political system, was detained in December 2008 after he helped draft a petition known as Charter 08 that demanded the right to free speech, open elections and the rule of law.
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China: Liu Xiaobo’s trial a travesty of justice
By: Human Rights Watch, December 21, 2009
By mounting a pre-determined political trial of China’s most prominent dissident, the Chinese government is violating the rights of Liu Xiaobo and showing contempt for its universal human rights commitments, Human Rights Watch said today. Liu Xiaobo, a leading intellectual who spent nearly two years in prison after the Tiananmen crackdown, has been indicted for “incitement to subvert state power,” a charge frequently used against dissidents because it allows the criminalization of criticisms of the government and the party.
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Thousands of Taiwanese protest China envoy’s visit
By: Annie Huang, AP, December 19, 2009
Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung for a massive rally Sunday to denounce the arrival of China’s senior Taiwan negotiator. Buoyed by a strong showing in local elections earlier this month, the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party is seeking to press home its message that President Ma Ying-jeou’s tightening of commercial ties with China is undermining Taiwan’s de facto independence and threatening the economic well being of its people.
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Hong Kong: Angry rail-link protesters clash with police
By: The Standard, November 30, 2009
A march by 1,000 people protesting against construction of the HK$65 billion Express Rail link to Guangzhou turned ugly when 100 of them clashed with police at government headquarters in Central. The clashes, which were still going on late last night, first flared at the end of a two-hour rally by people from 20 organizations, who had marched from Causeway Bay yesterday afternoon.
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SOUTH ASIA
India: Pro-mining ‘goons’ harass and intimidate human rights investigators
By: Survival International, December 21, 2009
Human rights investigators in India have been harassed and intimidated by large gangs of men apparently paid to stop any outsiders reaching the site of a controversial proposed mine in India. The men, known locally as ‘goons’, have become increasingly active in villages around the Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa, site of a giant bauxite mine planned by the UK FTSE-100 company Vedanta Resources. The hills are the ancestral home of the Dongria Kondh tribe, who vehemently oppose the mine.
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SOUTHEAST ASIA
Thailand: Tsunami survivors fight for land rights
By: Robert Reynolds, Yes! Magazine, December 26, 2009
Five years ago, the Indian Ocean tsunami allowed resort developers in Thailand to push indigenous coastal communities off their land. Villages are fighting back-and winning legal rights to their homes. With the help of NGOs that assisted them with legal issues, they won back much of their land and gained legal rights to it for the first time in history.
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Vietnam: Another blogger charged with “subversion” faces death penalty
By: RSF, December 24, 2009
Human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh has been charged with “subversion” by the prosecutor’s office, according to the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien. He’s now facing death penalty. Le was initially accused of “propaganda against the state” but now faces a subversion charge along with pro-democracy blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, who was arrested on 7 July, while the lawyer was arrested on 13 June.
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Burmese workers protest
By: RFA, December 18, 2009
Burmese authorities sent a large number of security personnel into a western suburb of the former capital, Rangoon, after rare protests by more than 1,000 workers in a dispute with management at a Malaysian-owned garment factory, protesters said.
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Detained Burmese-American calls off hunger strike
By: Myint Maung, Mizzima, December 18, 2009
Burma born US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung called off his hunger strike in Insein prison, his lawyer said on Friday. Kyaw Zaw Lwin a.k.a. Nyi Nyi Aung (40) began his hunger strike in prison on December 4 protesting against ill treatment of prisoners and demanding their rights. It is still not clear when he ended his hunger strike and whether the authorities gave in to his demands or not.
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CENTRAL AMERICA/CARIBBEAN
In Cuba, bringing a message or help can lead to jail  
By: Frances Robles, Miami Herald, December 18, 2009
Jan Bubenik went to Cuba to “spread the hope” but did everything wrong. Working on behalf of an American pro-democracy group, the former student leader of the Czech Velvet Revolution knocked on a Cuban dissident’s door and sat down to chat — then spent the night in a hotel in the same Ciego de Avila town. He was quickly picked up by Cuban authorities and jailed for more than three weeks.
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NORTH AMERICA
US: Two dozen protest trains bringing depleted uranium to Utah
By: Marc Haddock, Deseret News, December 19, 2009
Two dozen protesters braved the cold Saturday morning to protest plans to ship more than 3,000 tons of depleted uranium through the state to Utah’s western desert. The protest was organized by the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah as a train carrying the first of three planned shipments of depleted uranium nears the state.
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US: Mass arrests at White House antiwar rally
By: William Hughes, The People’s voice, December 19, 2009
On Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, just after noon and under a warm sun, 61 activists were arrested at the White House for failing to obey a police order to move off the sidewalk. The nonviolent “Civil Resistance” protest was the largest such antiwar demonstration at this particular site since President Barack Obama took office, in January, 2009.
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SOUTH AMERICA
Colombians refuse to be displaced: Over 5,000 occupy police office
By: James Jordan, Narco News, December 21, 2009
Over 5,000 indigenous, Afro-Colombian and farming community members are occupying the community center of Piñuña Negro in the department of Putumayo, Colombia. Using tactics of nonviolent resistance, a crowd of all ages has gathered at the highest government office in the area-the Police Inspector’s office-to demand negotiations with local and national government representatives and an end to military and paramilitary harassment and coca eradication programs that are causing thousands of residents to be displaced.
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Draft report on Peru violence provokes indigenous anger
By: Survival International, December 19, 2009
A draft report on the violent conflict in the Peruvian Amazon in June has drawn widespread condemnation from organisations in Peru. The draft was allegedly written by a commission appointed by the Peruvian government to investigate the events of 5 June in Bagua, northern Peru. More than thirty people, including twenty-three policemen, died after armed police attacked a peaceful indigenous protest.
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OCEANIA
Killing of Papuan leader Kelly Kwalik alienates West Papuans
By: John Miller, Pacific Scoop, December 20, 2009
The December 16 killing of pro-Papuan independence leader Kelly Kwalik by Indonesian police risks further alienation of Papuans and is likely to seriously undermine Papuan efforts to begin an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Indonesian government. Making Kwalik a scapegoat only serves to mask the failure of Indonesian authorities to credibly resolve these cases.
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West Papua 40 years on
By: Jennifer Robinson, Inside Indonesia, December 2009
Last August, East Timor celebrated a decade since the United Nations vote which gave it independence from Indonesia. This year, too, many West Papuans have been remembering a UN sponsored vote, but many of them have been mourning how it denied them their independence. In 1969, in an ‘Act of Free Choice’ the UN gave West Papuans the choice between the same two options put before the Timorese in 1999: integration with Indonesia or full independence. But the conduct of the vote could hardly have been more different than that which took place 30 years later in East Timor.
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Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty over West Papua rests upon unsound legal basis
By: Melinda Janki, Inside Indonesia, December 2009
Between 14 July and 2 August 1969, the Indonesian government held what it called the ‘Act of Free Choice’ in West Papua. It gathered 1022 Papuan tribal representatives into eight locations – one for each region of West Papua. Some of these Papuans had to walk three days to their designated location. These 1022 Papuans were asked to choose between two alternatives, either to remain with Indonesia or to sever ties with Indonesia and become an independent state separate from Indonesia, like Papua New Guinea.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Why do certain attempts of “people power” revolutions fail?
By: Stellan Vinthagen, Resistance Studies, December 19, 2009
We have seen many political revolutions the last decades. According to many researchers there are some 30-40 successful revolutions the last 30 years. But we have also seen a number of serious attempts of similar strategies: popular demonstrations, general strikes, boycott and massive civil disobedience – but with a failure to produce a revolutionary change. What do these cases have in common that makes them fail?
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Political opportunities and protest mobilization in Argentina
By: Taru Salmenkari, Finnish Journal of Latin American Studies, December 2009
This study applies opportunity structures to the research of protest mobilization. It argues that institutional contexts affect the ways social movements mobilize their supporters. In Argentina, the success of middle class mobilization largely depends on external resources provided by the mass media, while the organizations of unemployed piqueteros use state social aid programs to maintain organizations with participation patterns that can effectively and with few extra costs mobilize members.
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IN PAST NEWS
Philadephia, protesters seize street to demand housing rights
By: International Alliance of Inhabitants, November 11, 2009
Police watched as more than 100 people blocked a busy intersection at 6th and Market yesterday, near the Federal Building, to call attention to the nation’s housing crisis. The group, organized by Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, demanded a moratorium on evictions, and vowed massive nationwide civil disobedience at the end of January if Obama has not taken adequate steps to address the housing issue.
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