Nonviolent Action around the World – 29 May 2009 (Part 2)

May 29, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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EUROPE
Moldova: the Twitter revolution that wasn’t
By: William H. Hill and David J. Kramer, openDemocracy, May 28, 2009
Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, has spent a rare few weeks in the news after violent protests erupted on 7 April in the capital Chisinau. The violence broke out following the ruling Communist Party’s apparently clear-cut victory in the nation’s April 5 parliamentary elections. This gave the Communists just under fifty percent of the popular vote, and 60 deputies in the 101 seat Moldovan parliament. The result was sufficient to elect the speaker and the government, but was one vote short of the 61 seats required to choose the country’s next president.
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Poland forced to move democracy celebrations
By: Damien McElroy, Telegraph, May 28, 2009
Poland has been forced to move its celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the country’s first free elections away from the city regarded as the birthplace of the democracy movement in the Soviet bloc. The government has announced it is moving events away from Gdansk because of a threat of violent protests from the Solidarity trade union. Gdansk Shipyard was the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement, whose opposition to the Soviet regime led to the end of Communist Party rule in 1989.
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Belarusian intellectuals demand release of political prisoners
By: Charter ’97, May 28, 2009
The Council of Belarusian Intellectuals calls on politicians from Belarus, the European Union and the United States to start an international solidarity campaign to release Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka. A statement, adopted in Minsk on May 27, notes that a long hunger strike Autukhovich has been holding since April 16, menaces his life seriously; condition of Yury Lyavonau and Uladzimir Asipenka has also deteriorated.
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UK: Now to complete the democratic revolution
By: Hilary Wainwright, Transnational Institute, May 28, 2009
The anger that now explodes in Britain whenever one of the 125 MPs caught feathering their own or their families nests or building their duckponds faces the public is more than outrage at the pathetic greed of elected representatives. It is a pent up fury over a deep-seated failure of public control over public money. It is a fury that has mounted with growing evidence of financial waste and unaccountability, against the background of levels of inequality unprecedented in post-war years.
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Several policemen beaten by opposition in Georgia
By: David Nowak, Washington Post, May 28, 2009
Protesters demanding Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s resignation beat several police officers and stabbed one with a knife Thursday, officials said. The incident raised new fears that mostly peaceful protests could slide into widespread violence, further destabilizing the strategically-placed ex-Soviet nation which sits astride a key oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets. Shortly after police officers were beaten by protesters, about 20 club-wielding men waged into the crowd of opposition demonstrators outside the parliament building, injuring several protesters.
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Georgian opposition mulls more radical forms of protest
By: RFE/RL, May 27, 2009
Seven weeks after the Georgian opposition launched its campaign to force President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign, up to 55,000 people congregated at a soccer stadium in Tbilisi on May 26 in support of that demand. Despite dwindling participation at their protest actions in recent weeks, opposition leaders had said earlier they hoped to mobilize 100,000 protesters. It is unclear, however, whether and for how long that upsurge of popular support for the opposition can be sustained, especially in light of growing tactical disagreements between radical and moderate opposition leaders.

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Russia: Moscow increasingly represses civil society
By: Paul Goble, Georgian Daily, May 27, 2009
The Russian government, using both its own structures and others allied with it, is repressing civil society by means of murders, beatings and the fabrication of criminal and administrative cases, according to Lev Ponomaryev, a leading human rights activist. In a detailed article in today’s “Yezhednevny zhurnal,” Ponomaryev says that these attacks especially since the coming to power of Vladimir Putin in 2000 and the victories of the “so-called color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia … not only at the political opposition but at any manifestation of independent civic positions.”
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA
Iran: Journalist says she falsely confessed to spying
By: MSNBC, May 28, 2009
Journalist Roxana Saberi, who spent four months in an Iranian prison on espionage charges, said in her first in-depth interview that she initially confessed to being a spy but later recanted. In remarks to National Public Radio News, Saberi, 32, said her confession was forced and that she believes her decision to recant prompted the Iranian prosecutor to send her case to trial instead of allowing her to go free. “My confession was false and I thought I had to fabricate it to save myself,” she said.
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Iran urges citizens to vote
By: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, May 28, 2009
Putting their political rivalries aside, hundreds of Iranian television executives and government officials gathered recently to think up strategies to draw as many voters as possible to their country’s June 12 presidential election. “All four major candidates are in line with the system,” Askar Owladi, a high-ranking member of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party, told attendees. “So we do not feel concerned about who will be our next president,” Owladi said. “We should make sure we can maximize the turnout because that high turnout can ensure and secure the future of our system.”
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Iran lifts ban on Facebook
By: Borzou Daragahi, LA Times, May 27, 2009
Iran unblocked Facebook just days after the popular social networking website was banned, an Iranian news agency reported Tuesday. The Iranian Labor News Agency, or ILNA, said the site is now accessible to ordinary Web surfers. The rescinding of the ban came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied he was behind the decision to block the site, which has been used by his challengers to rally supporters for next month’s presidential election. Reformist challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, was using Facebook to generate buzz for his campaign.
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Israel: Mizrahi Jews demonstrate against neglect
By: Indibay, May 27, 2009
On wednesday, May 27, members of “Achoti” (my sister), a feminist organization representing jews of color (Mizrahim-Jews who emigrated from Arab countries) and members of the Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow, came to the Jerusalem Theater to demonstrate a convention about culture in Israel. In Israel, 90% of the state budget is given to institutions who represent a european and ashkenazi (Jews who emigrated from western countries) culture. To justify this kind of elocution of resources, European culture is described as important, while Mizrahi and arab culture are describe as empty.
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Democratic rights in Israel in peril
By: The Iron Heel, May 26, 2009
The Israeli government took this week a new measure in its attempt to suppress democratic rights in Israel.  The government has approved a bill banning all commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, under penalty of Imprisonment.  The bill is yet to pass in the Israeli parliament, subject, for now, to heavy criticism from many Israeli parties, from the Israeli Labor party to the Jewish-Arab Hadash and the Arab parties.  However, since the coalition government in Israel enjoys a majority of seats in the Knesset, the chances for seeing the law pass are quite high.
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Egypt: Why freed dissidents pick the path of most resistance
By: Michael Slackman, NY Times, May 26, 2009
When political dissidents who challenge authoritarian leaders are locked away in prison, when they are tortured and their families threatened, the goal is to break their resolve, to crush their spirit, to silence them. So how come so many get right back to it when they are finally freed? What compels them to fight on at the risk of great personal sacrifice? The practice may succeed as a deterrent, spreading fear among those who have not yet experienced the chill of a jail cell, the debasement of a strip search, the pain of electric shock. But for those who have already faced the worst, the threats often have the reverse effect.
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Promoting democracy – clumsily – in Egypt?
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, May 26, 2009
Washington should focus on technical assistance that improves the daily lives of ordinary Egyptians even at the expense of democracy support, argues Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Clumsy democracy promotion often does little good and can even make matters worse-not just in Egypt but in other authoritarian systems resistant to reform,” he cautions. Programs on agriculture, health care and infrastructure have been cut while funds are still available for political reform conferences for regional governors – “a futile endeavor.”
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Bahrain: Special security forces prevent public seminar
By: Bahrain Center for Human Rights, May 26, 2009
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights expresses its concerns over the deterioration in the level of freedom of expression as exemplified by the deployment by the local Authorities to Special Forces to prevent people and organizers from attending and holding a public seminar on 16 May 2009. The seminar was focusing on what is locally dubbed as “political naturalization in Bahrain” referring to granting the Bahraini nationality on a wide scale to achieve a political agenda.
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Iran: Presidential candidates urged to pledge to defend press freedom
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 26, 2009
As the campaign for Iran’s 12 June presidential election officially got under way, Reporters Without Borders wrote today to the candidates urging them to commit to the unconditional release of the 13 journalists and bloggers currently held in Iran. More than 100 news media have been censored since August 2005 and more than 100 journalists and bloggers have been arrested and prosecuted. In 2008 alone, a total of 30 newspapers were suspended, 22 of them at the behest of the Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance.
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Iran: Sentencing and exile of a political prisoner is confirmed
Iran Human Rights Voice, May 25, 2009
Political prisoner Hood Yazerlo was exiled to Raja’i prison in the city of Karaj after confirmation of his sentencing. Previously, on May 24, 2008, Mr. Yazerlo, a student of industrial management in the Independent University of Qazvin, was summoned before the court and subsequently detained. Mr. Yazerlo spent nine months in section 209 in Evin Prison and his trial was held in branch 17 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Salavati, on February 17, following which he received a three-year jail term in exile.
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Obama’s message in Egypt
By: Dina Guirguis, Washington Post, May 23, 2009
The venue from which President Obama addresses Muslim communities is integral to the substance of his message. While the president and his team are to be commended for extending a hand of cooperation and understanding to the world’s Muslims, Egypt’s democrats cannot help being concerned over the decision to deliver the address from Egypt on June 4. Voices for a Democratic Egypt and supporters of democracy in general hope that Obama will choose a neutral venue within Egypt and make clear his support for the Egyptian people in their aspirations for basic rights and freedom.
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Iran: Political prisoner’s life in danger
By: Human Rights Watch, May 23, 2009
The Iranian government should immediately release ailing political prisoner Behrooz Javid-Tehrani, a human rights activist first arrested during 1999 nationwide student protests, and ensure he has access to adequate medical care, Human Rights Watch said today. Javid-Tehrani, who has been continually detained since 2005, is on hunger strike and suffers from health problems caused by prolonged torture. A student activist and leading defender of the rights of political prisoners and their families, Javid-Tehrani has spent the last 10 years in and out of prison.
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Kuwait: ‘Gender-bender’ election raises optimism
By: N. Janardhan, IPS, May 22, 2009
Despite the reappointment of the Kuwaiti ruler’s nephew as premier, the results of last week’s elections – the historic victories of women candidates, and the decline of Islamist representation in parliament – are being perceived as a vote for change in the Gulf state. “The results have contributed to a mood of relief and satisfaction. It is a vote for change,” says Ghanim Al-Najjar, professor of political science at Kuwait University.
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Palestine: Interview with Thuraya Judi Alwazir – ‘More Women Need to Judge’
By: Mel Frykberg, IPS, May 21, 2009
Thuraya Judi Alwazir is one of few women judges sitting on the Palestinian Authority’s Judicial Authority. Alwazir speaks here to IPS about her experiences in a largely male-dominated environment, on the rights of women in regard to honour killings and domestic violence, and on the death penalty as applied in the West Bank.
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Qatar reacts negatively to media freedom promotion
By: The Economist, May 14, 2009
When the Qataris asked Robert Ménard to run what they heralded as the world’s first press freedom centre, in Doha, their capital, they were probably asking for trouble. An intrepid Frenchman who had previously run a Paris-based lobby, Reporters Without Borders, Mr Ménard is famous for courting controversy. Now, only months after becoming head of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, he is entangled in a row that may well be more bitter than anything he has experienced.
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OCEANIA
Fiji lawyers caught between rock and a hard place after decree
By: Radio New Zealand International, May 28, 2009
A lawyer for Fiji’s ousted Prime Minister says most lawyers will have little choice but to apply for practising certificates under a new presidential decree. Under the Legal Practitioners Decree, the issuing of practicing certificates will be transferred from the Fiji Law Society to the Chief Registrar. All lawyers will have to apply for new certificates in just over two week’s time if they wish to continue to practice law.
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Fiji law society raided
By: Angela Marie Watkins, Impunity Watch, May 27, 2009
Over the weekend, the offices of the Fiji Law Society were raided, files were removed, and the Society’s president was informed that the government will take over licensing lawyers and the handling of any complaints, including its own against the lawyers. Society president, Dorsami Naidu, told Radio New Zealand the new chief registrar, Ana Rokomokoti, and men in plain clothes demanded entry to the society’s Suva offices…
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST
Podcast: Laureate Mairead Maguire – Building ‘deep democracy’
By: openDemocracy, May 29, 2009
In the third podcast from the Nobel Women’s Initiative gathering in Antigua laureate Mairead Maguire spoke to Jane Gabriel about a new politic she sees arising: one in which ‘deep democracy’ is built by people standing up, building ‘personal democracy’ one to one, and demanding that the money be taken out of militarism.  Listen now to some of the ideas discussed during three days of women ‘Redefining democracy for peace, justice and equality’, and to Mairead Maguire’s call to action.
Listen to podcast…

Global poverty: The human-rights dimension
By: Kate Allen, openDemocracy, May 28, 2009
The worldwide economic recession is working its way through every level of the global economy. Most people in the rich states of the west in one way or another are experiencing its negative effects. But the recession’s impact on people in the poorest and most conflict-ridden parts of the world – who were already living with great insecurity – is even greater. Amnesty International’s latest annual report on the state of the world’s human rights, published on 28 May 2009, documents the devastating consequences of the crisis on the world’s poorest people – and finds that the economic problems they face are at their heart human-rights problems too.
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Postmodernity and the crisis of democracy
By: Jeremy Gilbert, OurKingdom, May 28, 2009
Two weeks into the public scandal over excessive expenses-claims by members of parliament, and the air is thick with cries for reform.The blogosphere rings as the liberal commentariat cry with one voice ‘Electoral Reform! A constitutional convention now! Charter 88 at last!’ But as usual, the bulk of the liberal commentariat wants too little too late, is still fighting the battles of the previous generation, and remains in denial about the sheer scale of the challenges which it faces (with notable exceptions).
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NEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES
Algérie: Le Front Polisario lance sa chaîne de télévision
By: Jeune Afrique, May 28, 2009
Le président autoproclamé de la République arabe sahraouie démocratique (RASD) a inauguré le 20 mai la première chaîne de télévision du Front Polisario. Elle devrait largement relayer les positions de ce mouvement dans la région. La chaîne est soutenue par le Front Polisario. Ce mouvement souhaite un référendum sur l’indépendance du peuple sahraoui. Le Maroc, lui, se déclare prêt à garantir plus d’autonomie à la population à condition qu’elle reste sous sa souveraineté.
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Honduras: Copinh amenaza con la insurrección si no hay consulta continuista
By: El Heraldo, May 18, 2009
Miembros del Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (Copinh) se apostaron esta mañana frente al Ministerio Público de Tegucigalpa para apoyar la cuarta urna que propone el presidente Manuel Zelaya. Indígenas y campesinos lucieron en la manifestación machetes relucientes, nuevos y recién desenvainados, que alzaron en son de amenaza y en defensa de la consulta para reformar la Constitución de Honduras.
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BOOK REVIEW
The Protest Singer
By: John Kehe, CS Monitor, May 27, 2009
Alec Wilkinson has written a short volume about a slim fellow who has lived a gigantic life. Pete Seeger is one of those iconic American names – like Johnny Appleseed or Paul Bunyan – that evokes more legend than man. The Protest Singer is the intimate portrait of the man who sparked the folk boom of the 1950s, marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King in Selma, stood up to McCarthy-era blacklisting and the Ku Klux Klan, and spent 40 years cleaning up the Hudson River.
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NOTICES
Hellraisers awards: Great acts of student activism
By: Kiera Butler, Mother Jones, May 27, 2009
Recently, Harvard students protested the university’s decision to stop offering anonymous HIV testing. It’s a great idea-and we know today’s students activists have plenty more where that one came from. MoJo, Campus Progress, and WireTap would like to hear about all feats of student activism (the more creative the better) from the past school year in time for the Hellraisers, our first annual student activism awards. Here’s how it works: You tell us about your favorite activism antics. Selected nominees will be featured in the September/October 2009 issue of Mother Jones.
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Tactical dialogues: Engaging pro-bono lawyers
By: New Tactics, May 27 – June 2, 2009
Join our featured resource practitioners from May 27 to June 2 for an online dialogue featuring Engaging Pro-Bono Lawyers. A major obstacle for victims of human rights abuses is gaining access to legal representation in order to file a complaint against the perpetrator. This online dialogue will be space for practitioners to share successful tactics for engaging pro-bono, or free, legal services through access to a variety of professional resources.
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New IWPR handbook for Sudanese journalists
By: Institute for War and Peace Reporting, May 26, 2009
WPR Netherlands has launched a manual for Sudanese journalists aimed at increasing local capacity for court reporting and tackling issues relating to international justice and local trials. Drawing on our training experience in other countries in which the International Criminal Court is active, such as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the manual takes journalists through all the steps necessary to understand international justice and produce balanced, accurate stories on the subject and related issues.
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Civic Driven Change – A concise guide to the basics
By: Kees Biekart and Alan Fowler, Transnational Institute, April 2009
This short booklet introduces new ideas about how civil society is taking charge in guiding development by taking key roles in society to respond to the most pressing issues the world faces such as poverty, injustice, conflict and environmental degradation. The authors highlight the special characteristics and elements of the approaches and problem-solving used and led by citizens. A concise guide to the basics emerges from the initiative of an international core group of practitioners and critical analysts which came together to ask: What would a citizen-centered story of change in society look like?
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IN PAST NEWS
How to bypass internet censorship
By: The Communication Initiative Network, January 1, 2008
This manual offers an introduction to the topic of internet censorship and a presentation of techniques and tools used for circumventing this filtering. It is an outgrowth of concerns about the effect of internet blocking mechanisms, and the implications of censorship – concerns expressed by individuals and groups working to ensure that information available on the internet is freely available to everyone who wants it. “How to Bypass Internet Censorship” is designed for a non-technical audience, with what the publishers characterise as clear, user-friendly explanations of software and methods for circumvension of online censorship.
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The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict is pleased to circulate this daily selective digest of world news related to past, present and potential nonviolent conflicts, including active civilian-based struggles against oppressive regimes, nonviolent resistance, political and social dissidence, and the use of nonviolent tactics in a variety of causes.  We also include stories that help readers glimpse the larger context of a conflict and that reflect on past historical struggles.

If you have specific items that you would like us to include in the daily digest, please send them to us.  If there is a news or information source that you believe we may not be accessing, for purposes of selecting items, please bring that to our attention. Thank you.