Nonviolent Action around the World – 3 June 2009 (Part 1)

June 3, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA

Radios bring civic education to southern Sudan
By: Debbie DeVoe, ReliefWeb, May 31, 2009
A group of women are sitting and talking under the shade of some large mango trees in Juba, South Sudan-a common sight. But today, instead of talking about the weather, the conversation is taking a different tack. One woman asks about the best way to put a stop to corruption in local government. Another says she wishes their discussion could be heard by all government officials. Welcome to the first meeting of the Women Group Cultivators radio listening group.
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Zimbabwe PM admits lack of progress
By: Al Jazeera, May 31, 2009
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s prime minister, has said that his efforts to restore democratic freedoms and the rule of law to Zimbabwe have so far failed. Tsvangirai made the comments on Saturday at his party’s annual convention, blaming supporters of Robert Mugabe, the president, for frustrating progress. Tsvangirai said his party remained committed to democratic ideals, but said there were severe problems still to be addressed.
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Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai tells journalists to ignore media commission
By: Journalism.co.za, May 29, 2009
Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has ordered both local and foreign journalists, as well media houses not to pay registration fees until a new media body has been constituted, writes a journalism.co.za correspondent. His directive comes against a background of letter of complaint by the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINAEF) which noted continued harassment and demands for accreditation by the now defunct Media and Information Commission (MIC).
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Ethiopia’s opposition cancels public meeting, blames government
By: Sudan Tribune, May 27, 2009
Ethiopia’s biggest opposition, Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ) on Tuesday accused the government of obstructing its constitutional rights and preventing from conducting a peaceful political meeting. Hailu Araya, vice president and person in charge of public relation to the party told Sudan Tribune that the UDJ is forced to cancel a public meeting it called for May 31, which was planned to be held at Addis Ababa’s Meskel square. “This is one of the ruling party’s deliberate games aimed to weaken our political role in the country” Hailu said.
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The new climate of fear in Ethiopia
By: David Dadge, Gulf News, May 24, 2009
The European Union, the United States and other major donors will pump about $2.5 billion (Dh9.19 billion) into Ethiopia this year, a sum that does not include the cost of medicines, famine relief, and countless other services provided by non-profit groups in one of the world’s most impoverished countries. But for all this generosity, an authoritarian government rules Ethiopia with virtual impunity. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in power for 18 years, has crushed the opposition.
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AMERICAS

Television station president arrested in Venezuela
By: Victor Ray Garza, Impunity Watch, May 31, 2009
The President of Venezuela’s only independent media outlet was arrested on  Saturday for charges stemming from another one of the businesses he owns.  Guillermo Zuloaga was arrested by state officials after a raid on a car dealership he owns turned up what the government calls irregularities. The investigation and arrest of Zuloaga follows a pattern being set by the government of President Hugo Chavez.  Zuloaga is another person targeted for investigation by the criminal justice system of Venezuela after making statements critical of the President.
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Brazil: Murder, death threats amid environmental protests
By: Fabiana Frayssinet, IPS, May 26, 2009
Activists in Brazil are demanding clarification of the murder of Paulo Santos Souza, a fisherman and trade unionist who was fighting irregularities in the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras. The Associação dos Homens do Mar for which Santos Souza was the treasurer, and other unions and civil society groups have called for a demonstration Wednesday in front of the headquarters of the state oil firm Petrobras.
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Fallen banker with ties to Citigroup involved in shooting of Brazilian landless workers
By: Isabella Kenfield, Center for International Policy, May 26, 2009
On April 18, seven members of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) were shot by private security guards on a farm in the Amazon that belongs to Agropecuária Santa Bárbara Xinguara S/A, a company controlled by international banker Daniel Dantas. A billionaire with former ties to Citigroup, Dantas is Brazil’s largest producer of cattle, and presently embroiled in a major financial and political scandal. About 120 families organized in the MST have been occupying part of the thousand-acre ranch since February.
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
The Facebook controversy in Indonesia
By: Bruce Einhorn, BusinessWeek, June 1, 2009
Indonesians still seem to be talking about the suggestion by some Muslim clerics last week that the government should regulate Facebook to prevent users in Indonesia from trading gossip or accessing porn. Peter Gelling, writing in the Global Post, has a useful take on the story. Some eye openers: According to Gelling, Indonesia has the world’s fifth-largest Facebook population, behind the U.S., Britain, France and Italy. (This despite the fact that Internet penetration in Indonesia last year was just 10.5% of the total population.) Moreover, according to Gelling, Facebook has become “the most visited website” in the country.
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China: Paint-throwing born of frustration
By: Radio Free Asia, June 1, 2009
China has developed tremendously over the last two decades, but “in terms of political and democratic reforms” the system is unchanged, one of three men jailed for splattering paint on Chairman Mao Zedong’s portrait during the 1989 Tiananmen protests has said. Yu Zhijian, who along with fellow paint-thrower Yu Dongyue was just granted U.S. asylum, described their high-profile May 23, 1989 act of vandalism as a product of frustration directed at the Chinese authorities and prompted by the failure of protest leaders to devise a response when Beijing declared martial law.
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China silences human rights lawyers as Tiananmen date looms
By: Jane Macartney, Times Online, June 1, 2009
Chinese authorities effectively disbarred some of the country’s leading civil rights lawyers yesterday, dealing a blow to a group than has done more to hold the Government to account than any other in recent years. The lawyers described the move as part of a carefully orchestrated government campaign to prevent them from taking on controversial or high-profile cases. They have faced intimidation, threats and violence in the past to deter them from doing so. The timing of the move is no coincidence. The 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown falls on Thursday and the Government is eager to suppress dissenting voices.
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Gutsy Pakistan protesters march against the Taliban
By: Mark Magnier, LA Times, June 1, 2009
The first thing you notice about the protest is the protesters. They’re all men. Given the conservative nature of the group and the charged nature of the issue, women are not taking part, even if they have a great stake in the outcome. The second thing you notice are the signs. “Go Taliban Go!” they exclaim, like some high school cheerleader. Wait a minute. Isn’t this an anti-Taliban demonstration, being staged in front of a posh Islamabad shopping center? It takes a few seconds to realize that the signs are missing a word or two after the “Go,” as in “away” or “to hell” or “get lost.” As in “Go away, Taliban, Go Away.”
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North Korea: Jailed U.S. journalists are expected to get prison terms
By: John M. Glionna, LA Times, June 1, 2009
When North Korea detained two American TV journalists in March, accusing them of illegal entry and “hostile acts,” analysts believed the script would be familiar: The pair would be tried, convicted and soon released in exchange for U.S. concessions. But after a nuclear test in the secretive state that was harshly criticized worldwide, experts say the women could be sentenced to longer prison terms with little chance for negotiation. Laura Ling and Euna Lee are set to stand trial Thursday in Pyongyang’s top Central Court, where few appeals are granted. Many say they could face up to 15 years of hard labor.
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Winners and losers in Indonesia’s elections
By: Scoop, June 1, 2009
Despite serious problems with flawed voter lists and complicated voting procedures, last month’s elections in Indonesia passed off relatively peacefully with a rainbow of secular and religious parties winning seats in the national parliament and regional assemblies. An analysis of the winners and losers is provided in ‘A victory for mainstream politics in Indonesia’, published online today by TAPOL in its latest Election Update (http://tapol.gn.apc.org/elections.htm).
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Burma: Junta publicly defends Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial
By: Mizzima, June 1, 2009
Burma’s military rulers said on Sunday that pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial is in keeping with its law and is an internal affair, where other countries should not interfere. Major General Aye Myint, Burma’s Deputy Minister for Defence, at the Asia Security Conference in Singapore on Sunday said legal action was taken against Aung San Suu Kyi according to the law and as a respect to the rule of law.
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Suu Kyi trial: Burmese protest with small signs of defiance
By: The Huffington Post, June 1, 2009
The spray-painted demands appear overnight: “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” read the scrawls on walls across this city – only to be whitewashed by security forces as soon as they are discovered. Since the trial of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader began two weeks ago, these small signs of defiance hint at the undercurrent of anger over the treatment of a woman considered to be a living icon by many of her compatriots. But out in public, under the watchful gaze of the military regime, supporters feel helpless to do more as the trial winds to an end, with closing arguments scheduled for Friday.
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Burma junta justifies Suu Kyi detention
By: CNN, May 31, 2009
The trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has been postponed until Friday while the country’s military junta once again justified — albeit indirectly — its detention of the opposition leader. Without mentioning Suu Kyi by name, a full-page article in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Saturday laid out the penalty for someone running afoul of the state’s subversion laws — under which the pro-democracy advocate is being tried. “The restrictions can be extended up to a total of five years with the prior approval of the government in accordance with the law,” the article said.
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China: The end of revolution
By: Victor Gao, CNN, May 31, 2009
Victor Zhikai Gao currently practices private equity consulting and serves as a director of the China National Association of International Studies. He was a former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as interpreter for senior Chinese officials. In this essay, he says, “When the 1989 Beijing Event unfolded, I was transfixed with disbelief, unease, apprehension, pain, shock, and eventually devastation. Unlike millions of people around the world who watched the events as outsiders, I knew intimately well the forces on both sides of the political melodrama.”
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China: Hong Kong protest over Tiananmen
By: BBC News, May 31, 2009
Thousands have marched in Hong Kong to mark the forthcoming 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen killings, in one of the few such events on Chinese soil. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people were killed in China’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests. There has been no official inquiry so the exact death toll remains unclear. Among the crowds in Hong Kong on Sunday was Xiong Yan, a leading student protester during the 1989 demos, now living in exile in the US. Police said at least 4,700 people had gathered. Tens of thousands more are expected to attend a candlelit vigil on Thursday.
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In China, a new breed of dissidents
By: Loretta Chao, Wall Street Journal, May 30, 3009
As she strolls through a park near her temporary home, Shen Lixiu glances warily at passers-by who may be listening in on her conversation. The 53-year-old mother of two illustrates the changing dynamics of the Chinese protest movement since the military crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. Many activists today aren’t college-educated. The latest crop of college students — most of whom are too young to remember the tumultuous events of 1989 — are focused on career advancement in a market-driven economy, and have little time for political activism.
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Burma: Suu Kyi trial adjourned further
By: Htet Aung Kyaw, Democratic Voice of Burma, May 30 2009
The next hearing in the trial of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi has been delayed by the court until 5 June, with no reason given, said the opposition leader’s lawyer. In a letter sent to lawyer Kyi Win yesterday evening, the court at Rangoon’s Insein prison, where Suu Kyi is on trial for alleged breaching of conditions of her house arrest, announced the trial would be further adjourned until 5 June. The next hearing had originally been set for 1 June.
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Donor nations ask Vietnam to crack down on corruption
By: Asia-Pacific News, May 29, 2009
Vietnam has reformed its corruption laws, but has made few concrete moves to crack down on offenders via the legal system or the media, foreign diplomats told Vietnamese officials Friday. Ambassadors and representatives of international aid organizations told Vietnamese government inspectors at a semi-annual dialogue on corruption that ending widespread malfeasance would require transparency, contracting reform, and greater freedom for journalists and civil society groups to denounce violators.  ‘In the current context of Vietnam, anti-corruption measures are still not very effective,’ acknowledged Vietnamese anti-corruption officer Le Van Lan.
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China: Zhao memoir goes on sale
By: Radio Free Asia, May 29, 2009
The memoir of China’s late former leader Zhao Ziyang, who fell from power at the height of the student-led pro-democracy movement 20 years ago, went on sale Friday in Hong Kong, the only Chinese city where its publication wasn’t banned. The book, titled in English Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang, was compiled from audio recordings made by Zhao, a former general secretary of China’s Communist Party who died under house arrest at his Beijing home in 2005.
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China: 20 years on – Memories of Tiananmen
By: BBC News, May 28, 2009
On 3-4 June 1989, hundreds – possibly thousands – of Chinese protesters were killed when their call for democracy on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was brutally crushed. China’s unofficial leader at the time, Deng Xiaoping, said the crackdown was necessary because the government was dealing with “a number of rebels” and people who were “the dregs of society.” Here some of the people affected by the massacre describe their experience to the BBC.
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China: Breaking on Twitter — Thugs harrass and detain journalist
By: Danwei, May 28, 2009
Yesterday saw new developments in the case of Deng Yujiao, who stabbed a government official to death. According to Deng, she was acting in self-defense against a man who was sexually assaulting her. Deng has become China’s latest Internet hero for standing up to what Chinese netizens assume are licentious and corrupt government officials. This afternoon this statement is all over Twitter and its Chinese clones: “I am Yang Xiao, a Southern People journalist based in Beijing. My colleague Wei Yi was at Deng Yujiao’s grandmother’s home (at Yesanguanmulongya). When he was interviewing her, men of unknown identity beat him up and took him away (New Century Weekly journalist Kong Pu was present).”
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CENTRAL ASIA

Azerbaijan: Youth groups look to pre-Soviet past to build democratic-secular future
By: Mina Muradova, EurasiaNet, May 29, 2009
They say they have no interest in politics. Just in promoting social change. Youth groups that promote Azerbaijan’s pre-Soviet Azerbaijani Democratic Republic have become a fresh force in Azerbaijan’s public life, but one that the government isn’t embracing. The Azerbaijani Democratic Republic was founded on May 28, 1918, and ranked as the Muslim world’s first democratic and secular government. It lasted, however, only 23 months, falling to the Red Army in 1920.
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Uzbekistan: Political persecution prompts rise in refugees  
By:  Ahror Ahmedov, EurasiaNet, May 28, 2009
Human rights activist Nadezhda Atayeva is president of the Paris-based Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. The number of refugees and asylum seekers from Uzbekistan has risen significantly over the past three years — since the Andijan events of May 2005, when security forces opened fire on mostly unarmed demonstrators in the Ferghana Valley city.
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Kazakh campaigners battle internet curbs
By: Aygerim Beysenbaeva, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, May 28, 2009
As a controversial internet bill nears the end of its progress through Kazakstan’s parliament, media rights activists have been putting up a last-ditch defence. The campaign to persuade lawmakers that the proposed changes to current legislation are a bad idea was stepped up with a symbolic hour’s blackout protest by websites on May 13, the day the bill was passed by the lower house of parliament, the Majilis. Around a thousand Kazakstan-based websites blanked out their screens in an “Hour of Silence”, organised by the Free Internet campaign group and backed by a number of media NGOs and leading websites.
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