Nonviolent action around the world – 5 January 2010 (Part 1)

January 5, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA
In Sierra Leone, pop music is a beat that drives politics
By: Scott Kraft, LA Times, January 3, 2010
Political debate in the African nation often takes the form of protest songs; some have even toppled governments. Mostly illiterate, citizens rely heavily on singers for an independent take on events. Today, music here is more than simple entertainment. It has become the vehicle for a decibel-busting national political debate.
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Ethiopia: Opposition tells of ban plans
By: Argaw Ashine, All Africa, January 3, 2010
Ethiopian main opposition group Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) Leader’s are saying they are afraid of any possible closure and arrest by the government ahead of the upcoming election.
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Congo: Are conflict minerals being used in consumer electronics?
By: Truth Dig, January 3, 2010
The dirty little secret of the consumer electronics boom is that a lot of the sexy little gadgets you use every day are made from minerals that help fund what this video says is “the deadliest conflict in the world since the holocaust.”
Watch the video…

South Africa: Call to boycott coke
By: The Times, December 30, 2009
Numsa spokesman Castro Ngobese called on South Africans who consume coke to stop buying Amalgamated Beverage Industries beverages between 1 and 5pm every day to force the company to adhere to workers’ demands. Since last week Tuesday, workers countrywide have been on a strike threatening to run the country dry of Coca-Cola. The union called on workers from SAB’s beer division and other subsidiaries to join them in a sympathy strike which could increase the number of protesters from 3,500 to 8,000.
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Zimbabwe: 500 ‘ghost’ soldiers ‘voted’ in 2008 general election
By: Voice of America, December 29, 2009
Tongai Matutu, who represents Masvingo Urban constituency for the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, told VOA that an audit showed most of the soldiers who voted do not exist. Parliament is set to debate electoral reforms amid allegations that 500 soldiers, some as old as 122 years according to the records, voted at the headquarters of the Fourth Brigade in Masvingo in the last general election.
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NORTH AMERICA
2009 Press Freedom Index
By: RSF, January 4, 2010
“Press freedom must be defended everywhere in the world with the same energy and the same insistence,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Fran├žois Julliard said today as his organisation issued its eighth annual world press freedom index. Reporters Without Borders compiles the index every year on the basis of questionnaires that are completed by hundreds of journalists and media experts around the world. This year’s index reflects press freedom violations that took place between 1 September 2008 and 31 August 2009.
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US: To overhaul immigration, advocates alter tactics
By: Julia Preston, NY Times, January 1, 2010
Lacing up new pairs of walking shoes with a flourish, four immigrant students set out on foot from downtown Miami on Friday, starting a four-month walk to Washington to protest what they called the Obama administration’s lack of action on legislation granting legal status to illegal immigrants. Three of the four protesters, who are current or former students at Miami Dade College, do not have legal-resident status and risk detention by immigration authorities during the 1,500-mile walk.
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CENTRAL AMERICA/CARIBBEAN
Cuba: A black market finds a home in the web’s back alleys
By: Marc Lacey, NY Times, January 3, 2010
These are tough economic times in Cuba, and while the black market has always bustled here it seems particularly intense these days, with enterprising Cubans in a constant search of compatriots who have money to spend. There are no classified advertisements in the Communist Party newspaper Granma or the other state-run publications that circulate in Cuba. Rather, sales are made through Radio Bemba, which is not a radio station at all but the country’s extensive gossip network, which takes its name from the Spanish word for lip.
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Cuba gives US diplomat access to arrested American
By: Paul Haven, AP, December 29, 2009
The Cuban government has given a U.S. diplomat access to a jailed American citizen accused of providing communications equipment to dissident groups while working as a government contractor, a U.S. official in Havana said Tuesday. The case has drawn denunciations from Cuban President Raul Castro and further strained U.S.-Cuba relations after months of slow but steady progress toward easing their half-century diplomatic standoff.
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IAPA protests heightened repression in Cuba
By: IFEX, December 16, 2009
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern and alarm at the increased violence and repression against Cuba’s independent journalists, bloggers, human rights activists and family members of prisoners. At the same time the organization repeated its call for the release of 27 journalists serving prison terms ranging from one to 28 years.
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SOUTH AMERICA
Landmark human rights case in Argentina puts torture on trial
By: Marie Trigona, Americas Program, January 5, 2010
Argentine courts have launched an investigation into crimes committed at the ESMA Navy Mechanics School during the nation’s military dictatorship. The landmark human rights trial is one of the most far-reaching attempts to bring crimes of Latin America’s bloody past to justice.
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Colombia rebels, al Qaeda in “unholy” drug alliance
By: Hugh Bronstein, The Post Chronicle, January 5, 2010
Colombian guerrillas have entered into “an unholy alliance” with Islamic extremists who are helping the Marxist rebels smuggle cocaine through Africa on its way to European consumers, a U.S. official told Reuters. Criminal organizations including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are going through Africa to access the European market. And they are doing it with the help of al Qaeda and other groups branded terrorists by Washington, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
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Bolivian Indians still struggle for exodus from serfdom
By: AP, January 3, 2010
Bolivia already has made giants steps toward ending a centuries-old legacy of mistreatment of its third-largest ethnic group by white overlords. But for now, several thousand Guarani live in a penniless limbo waiting for the government to make good on its promises to give land to Indians who have broken free of a life the U.N. has classified as “forced labor and servitude.”
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EUROPE
Charges faced by climate protester in Danish jail dismissed as absurd
By: Amy Corderoy, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 4, 2010
An Australian remains in a Danish prison three weeks after being arrested for organising a protest against the Copenhagen climate-change conference. Danish authorities have released other demonstrators, including foreign nationals who were arrested and charged with similar offences before the summit, but Natasha Verco remains in Copenhagen’s Vestre Faengsel jail,  unable to contact her Australian family or friends. A statement co-signed by Mrs Verco, and obtained by the Herald, said the charges against her were ”absurd accusations about either violence that actually did not take place, or conspiracies”
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Belarus: Last year of dictatorship?
By: Charter ’97, December 30, 2009
The outgoing year has clearly demonstrated that Lukashenka’s regime has neither political nor economic resources to develop Belarus today. It has only self-preservation instinct and an aggressive desire to fight the dissent in the country. But this is not enough to build a strong and flourishing Belarus on. The regime exists not due to popularity, but due to indecision.
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CENTRAL ASIA
Kazakhstan: Journalist murdered, professional motives excluded
By: Adil Nurmakov, Global Voices, December 29, 2009
Sayat Shulembayev, 28, journalist of the news video-portal “Stan” was brutally murdered in Almaty. As “Stan” producer Michael Pak says, Sayat rented a room in the house near bus station. The murderers killed the landlord and the journalist, apparently, to eliminate the possible witness. The news portal does not link the murder with journalistic activity of the victim.
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Kazakhstan cracks down on press freedom on eve of leading OSCE
By: Luke Harding, The Guardian, December 29, 2009
For Respublika it has been a long battle for survival. In September bailiffs seized the opposition newspaper’s entire print run. Working through the night, reporters retrieved the proofs from a USB flash disk, photocopied them, and stapled them together. By 7am they had churned out 2,000 homemade copies – not exactly a big edition, but a small symbolic victory in the struggle for media freedom in Kazakhstan.
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SOUTH ASIA
Brown criticises Afghan war protest
By: Al Jazeera, January 4, 2010
Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, has criticised plans by an Islamic group to hold a march against the Afghanistan war in a town where dead UK soldiers are commemmorated. Brown described the planned march as “completely inappropriate” if it upsets the families of troops wounded or killed in Afghanistan, his office said on Monday.
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Pakistan/Afghanistan: Singing for Peace
By: Peace and Collaborative Development Network, January 1, 2010
While the areas along the Pak-Afghan border are in the grip of war and violence, and the socio-cultural heritage of the Pashtuns is subjected to a ruthless onslaught from different militant groups, the young and educated Pashto singers show guts to openly challenge the rising tide of terrorism and religious fundamentalism in their musical expressions…
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Sri Lanka: Boycott not the solution for Tamil grievances
By: Daily Mirror, December 30, 2009
The news that the All Ceylon Tamil Congress has decided to boycott the upcoming Presidential elections is indeed cause for serious concern. Apart from the fact that such a decision creates a further rift within the already divided Tamil community, it has the potential to leave the real grievances of the Tamil people out in the open, unmet, un-discussed and uncared for. Such a room leaves for the Tamil people to be further alienated both from the social circle of the county as well as the political platform which is certainly not healthy.
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India: Telangana agitation intensifies, thousands protest on streets
By: IANS, December 29, 2009
The ongoing agitation for statehood to Andhra Pradesh’s Telangana region intensified Tuesday as thousands of people from all walks of life came on to the streets in various districts to press for their demand. Protests, road blockades, rallies, processions, meetings, human chains and cultural programmes were organised across the region by all political parties and other pro-Telangana groups. Protesters in various towns also used folk songs and cultural performances to highlight their demand…
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Nepal’s Tibetans pressured by China’s growing influence
By: Alexander Sehmer, Open India, December 24, 2009
Some in Nepal fear that China is stirring up tensions between their countrymen and the Tibetan refugee population. In his office in Kathmandu, Trinlay Gyatso, the chief co-ordinator at the Office of Tibet in Nepal, is particularly angry at what he sees as China’s agents operating in Nepal. A number of Nepali-language press reports in November claimed that Gyatso visited the country’s northern Mustang province to “provide training” to Tibetans at the refugee camps there and that he spoke to them “about the past crackdown in Tibet”.
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