Nonviolent action around the world – 5 January 2010 (Part 2)

January 5, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA

Iran: Hackers attack Ahmadinejad’s web site
By: Robert Mackey, NY Times, January 5, 2010
On Monday night in San Francisco an information technology consultant named Austin Heap reported on his blog that the official web site of Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad.ir, had been attacked by hackers. Mr. Heap, who has been active in the effort to provide Iranians with tools to circumvent Internet censorship this year, wrote that “someone seems to have had their way with Ahmadinejad’s web servers.”  
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Iran ‘bars co-operation with foreign groups’
By: BBC News, January 5, 2010
Iran has banned its citizens from co-operating with foreign organisations it says are trying to destabilise the government, state media has reported. The 60 blacklisted groups include human rights groups, Iranian opposition websites and media groups such as the BBC and US broadcasters. Iran’s deputy intelligence minister told Press TV the groups were involved in a “soft war” against the state.
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Iran professors ask for end to violence
By: Nazila Fathi, NY Times, January 4, 2010
Risking expulsion and possible arrest, 88 professors at Tehran University signed a letter on Monday calling on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme religious leader, to end the use of violence against protesters, saying it was a sign of the government’s weakness. An opposition web site, Jaras, reported that in another open letter released Monday, five leading opposition figures from outside the country called for the resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, free elections, release of political prisoners, greater freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.
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Iranian protester: ‘We are not radicals, not against Islam’
By: CNN, January 4, 2010
A 28-year-old university researcher has been among thousands to take to the streets of Tehran in support of reform for his country.He has braved police violence and government reprisals. He has seen fellow opposition supporters felled by the batons and bullets of government security forces. His wish is simple — a democratic Iran. “We are — like it or not — (becoming) … a multicultural and multireligious country,” he said, calling for the same freedoms common to “most of the democracies of the world.”
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Ashura violence marks turning point for opposition
By: Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE, January 4, 2010
As Iranians gathered to celebrate the Shi’ite holiday of Ashura on December 27, Tehran witnessed some of its worst violence since just after the disputed June 12 presidential contest that plunged the Islamic republic into crisis. Some Iran observers believe the events, in which clashes between opposition protesters and security forces resulted in protesters’ deaths and injuries on both sides, mark a turning point in the months-long political crisis.
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Families of Jordanian prisoners in Iraq begin hunger strike
By: Mohammad Ghazal, The Jordan Times, January 4, 2010
Families of Jordanian prisoners in Iraq appealed to the government on Monday to place pressure on the Iraqi government to release their loved ones. Several families began a hunger strike on Monday and said will appeal to Amman’s governor on Tuesday through the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR) to erect a tent in front of the Iraqi embassy in Amman to call for the release of the prisoners.
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European delegation cancels planned trip to Iran
By: Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, January 4, 2010
An 11-person delegation from the European Union will not visit Iran this week as planned, due to the tension and uncertainty surrounding the continued violence there. The news was announced by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as a decision “by mutual agreement,” but several of the delegation members had already announced their intention to abandon the planned trip, in which European parliamentarians were set to meet with Iranian lawmakers and human rights representatives.
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Iran: The internet and politics, revolution.com
By: The Guardian, January 4, 2010
Can the internet really bring about political change? Optimists point to the green movement in Iran, when the reformist campaign showed the power of new technologies to organise resistance and to break the stranglehold of censors on information; but the episode also showed that technology alone is not enough to secure democratic change.
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Ex-spy chief says Iran government about to collapse
By: Bangkok Post, January 3, 2010
A former high-ranking intelligence official in Iran has called for his country to form better relations with the United States and Israel and says the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on the verge of collapse. n an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post Sunday, Mohammad Reza Madhi, a former officer in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence service, described Mr Ahmadinejad as ”crazy” and unfit to lead his country.
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Iran to try Ashoura rally detainees
By: Al Jazeera, January 3, 2010
Iran is set to put on trial seven opposition protesters arrested during anti-government demonstrations held around the Shia Muslim commemoration of Ashoura, according to Iranian media. The trials are due to begin “from Sunday to Tuesday” the Iranian Labour News Agency, which is seen as close to the country’s reform movement, reported.
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Iranian filmmakers keep focus on the turmoil
By: Michael Slackman, NY Times, January 3, 2010
Iran’s government cannot silence the filmmakers. Bahman Ghobadi’s latest work, “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” is banned in Iran but is being passed around for free,  offering a searing portrait of life through the prism of a vibrant underground music scene. Films are censored. Directors are prohibited to leave the country and prohibited to return home, forced to cancel projects and threatened with punishment if their films are too probing or too critical of life in the Islamic Republic. But the films keep coming, and so do the filmmakers.
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Iran: Video shows gunman opening fire on demonstrators, who fight back
By: LA Times, January 2, 2010
Iranian police have stated strenuously that security forces weren’t armed with guns during Dec. 27 clashes in Tehran between security forces and protesters. But newly discovered amateur video, apparently taken with a cellphone, tells a different story. In the video, a man can be seen and heard opening fire on a crowd of unarmed demonstrators as a man cries out, “Dishonorable Basiji!” The gunman appears to be a plainclothes security official, perhaps a Basiji militiaman or an intelligence operative working for the Revolutionary Guard.
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Gaza freedom march: What we’ve accomplished so far
By: Robert Naiman, Huffington Post, January 2, 2010
Robert Naiman reports what we have accomplished so far in the Gaza freedom march. He argues that the groundwork is being laid for future campaigning in the U.S. for “citizen sanctions” against the Israeli government that could help change the balance of forces influencing U.S. policy, so that U.S. policy becomes a force for peace, rather than continuing to perpetuate the Israel/Palestine conflict as the U.S. is doing today.
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Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against Gaza blockade
By: AFP, January 2, 2010
Hundreds of Israeli pacifists, both Arabs and Jews, marched in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators — estimated at more than 1,000 by organisers of the march — changed slogans urging “liberty and justice for Gaza” as they marked the first anniversary of Israel’s war on Gaza.
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Mousavi ‘ready to die’ for reform in Iran
By: BBC News, January 1, 2010
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has said he is not afraid to die for the cause of reform. It was his first comment since the death of his nephew and other anti-government protesters late last month. In a statement posted on his website, Mr Mousavi also set out a five-stage solution to the crisis sparked by June’s disputed elections.
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Change Iranians can believe in
By: Bryan Farrell, Waging Nonviolence, January 1, 2010
The mainstream media has started referring to the recent surge of protests in Iran as “the tipping point” for the opposition movement. While this assumption isn’t totally baseless-as evidenced by the spread of protests from Tehran to the heartland-there’s still a sense of wishful thinking that pervades the coverage. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi is not a radical reformer, which means he’s not interested in doing away with the Islamic system. This should be a sign that the greater social freedoms sought by the protesters do not go hand in hand with his assumption of power. By resting their so-called revolution on the shoulders of a politician like Mousavi, Iranians may end up with little more than a kinder gentler oppressive regime.
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Egyptian security forces attack Gaza protesters
By: Max Ajil, TruthOut, December 31, 2009
Egyptian security forces were attacking protesters in Tahrir Square, at the core of downtown Cairo, after they sat down in the middle of a busy Cairo street, protesting the imprisonment of the people of Gaza. Others were literally barricaded inside their hotel, the entrance surrounded by steel riot barriers. Egyptian security forces refuse to allow them to leave. Green personnel carriers line the streets. It is pandemonium. The protesters are part of the Gaza Freedom March, a group of 1,400 delegates from 42 countries, including France, the United States, the Philippines, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Australia and Japan.
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Gaza “freedom march”
By: Reuters, December 31, 2009
Palestinians and Israelis gather to mark one year on from Israel’s offensive on Gaza.
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Dissident Iran rises
By: The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2009
On Sunday bloody street battles in cities across Iran exposed the regime’s brutality for all the world to see. On Monday, the government restarted one of the darker arts it has mastered: grabbing its democrats and stuffing them in a hole. Among the dissidents arrested was veteran democratic activist Heshmat Tabarzadi. There are many others. Among the most significant are former foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi, the secretary general of the outlawed Freedom Movement of Iran. It’s time for the White House and the rest of the U.S. government to start learning to pronounce the names of Iran’s dissidents.
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Arresting peaceful protesters in occupied Palestine
By: Stephen Lendman, The Peoples Voice, December 30, 2009
On August 3, 200 Israeli soldiers raided five Bel’in homes at 3AM arresting eight Palestinians, including Mohammad Khatib, a leader of the Bel’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. For decades, Israel has met peaceful Palestinian protesters disruptively with violence, arrests and at times unprovoked killings. It’s no surprise that targeting them and their leaders is now common practice in cities and villages like Jayyous and Bil’in.
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Tunisia: The white note campaign against cyber censorship
By: Lina Ben Mhenni, Global Voice, December 30, 2009
On Friday, December the 25, Tunisian bloggers waged the White Note Campaign to protest against censorship, which is growing to a tremendous extent in Tunisia. The Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) is not sparing any kind of websites from censorship.
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U.S. State Department: Azeri-Iranian Rights Activists Imprisoned
By: ADAPP Iran, December 30, 2009
Human rights monitors are concerned over the detention of two Azeri-Iranian rights activists by Iranian authorities. Fakhteh Zamani, Director of the Association for Defense of Azerbaijani Political Prisoners, says the arrests of Saleh Kamrani and Said Metinpour are part of a continuing campaign of repression by Iranian authorities.
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Top Iranian journalists jailed in wake of Ashura protests
By: Committee to Protect Journalists, December 29, 2009
The Iranian government, struggling to silence the many critical voices in the country, has arrested at least 11 journalists since Sunday, including former International Press Freedom Award recipient Mashallah Shamsolvaezin and the prominent writer Emadeddin Baghi. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrests and called for the release of all detained journalists, who now number more than 30.
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Harvard professor cited as inspiration for nonviolent Iranian protests
By: Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2009
Iran singled out Harvard professor Gene Sharp as a key inspiration for protesters’ ‘velvet coup.’ Sharp’s manual on nonviolent protest shaped opposition movements in Czechoslovakia and inspired activists in Burma. Since the early 1970s, his work has served as the template for taking on authoritarian regimes from Burma to Belgrade. A list of his 198 methods for nonviolent action can be downloaded free of charge, along with his seminal work, “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” which has been translated by his Albert Einstein Institute into two dozen languages ranging from Azeri to Vietnamese.
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Iran intensifies protest crackdown with arrests of activists’ relatives
By: Robert Tait, The Guardian, December 29, 2009
Authorities in Iran intensified their drive to snuff out the opposition movement overnight by arresting the relatives of prominent activists, including the sister of the Nobel laureate and human rights campaigner Shirin Ebadi. The latest detention came after Mousavi’s nephew, Ali Mousavi Khamane, was killed on Sunday in what his family allege was an assassination by security forces. At least 20 prominent figures, including journalists, have been arrested since Sunday’s clashes, which took place on the Shia holy day of Ashura.
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Activists and relatives held as Iran accuses Britain of backing protesters
By: Robert Tait, The Guardian, December 29, 2009
Iran’s Islamic authorities signalled a ferocious crackdown against the opposition movement today by linking it to “foreign enemies”, including Britain, and arresting a fresh wave of leading activists and their relatives. Using extraordinarily belligerent language, the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, threatened Britain with “a slap in the mouth” after the ambassador to Tehran, Simon Gass, was summoned to hear accusations of British involvement in mass protests during Sunday’s religious Ashura ceremony.
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Iran denounces Western criticism of protest crackdown
By: Voice of America, December 29, 2009
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the United States and Israel of staging Sunday’s anti-government protests in which at least eight people died. Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani read a statement from lawmakers Tuesday saying U.S. President Barack Obama is disgracing himself by praising the Iranian opposition.  Some members of parliament chanted “Death to America.”
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Egypt blocks US activists’ march
By: Al Jazeera, December 29, 2009
Egyptian security forces have attempted to prevent dozens of US activists from reaching their embassy in Cairo. All those rounded up were members of the Gaza Freedom Marchers organisation, a group planning to travel to Gaza to protest an Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the besieged territory. All those rounded up were members of the Gaza Freedom Marchers organisation, a group planning to travel to Gaza to protest an Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the besieged territory.
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Palestine: Twitter accused of silencing Gaza tribute
By: Antoun Issa, Global Voices, December 29, 2009
Pro-Palestinian and human rights activists used the influential Twitter portal to mark the one-year anniversary of the Gaza War, and express support for the besieged territory. Tweets using the hashtag #Gaza flooded in on December 27th, peaking at number 3 on Twitter’s top ten Trending Topics list. However, complaints emerged of users being briefly blocked from tweeting #Gaza, with the trend being forced downwards and off the Trending Topics.
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Israel/Palestine: Boycotting is the new black
By: Samarai, Bikya Masr, December 29, 2009
Some commentators argue that boycotting is an ineffective means of voicing your discontent; that it does little to effect real change. However, this view does little to understand the real spirit of a boycott. Take the academic boycott of Israel, for example. Has education been failing in Israel following the boycott carried out by about 30 British universities earlier this year? Doubtful. However, the first stages of a boycott are purely symbolic. They are a gesture to those who are suffering that the world is taking notice of their plight. It is a peaceful protest when other mediums are futile.
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Reinvigorated protests test Iranian regime’s grip
By: PBS News Hour, December 28, 2009
Margaret Warner speaks with two experts about strategies that Iran’s government and opposition may use in the near future amid the latest political unrest.   
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Crackdown in Iran: Up to 12 dead, hundreds arrested in opposition protests
By: Democracy Now, December 28, 2009
In Iran, police opened fire into crowds of protesters Sunday, killing as many as twelve people, including the nephew of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Security forces have also arrested hundreds of people, including a number of prominent opposition figures.
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Iran is burning in revolution, not recognizing it can lead to calamity
By: Sam Sedaei, Huffington Post, December 28, 2009
On Sunday, protesters marked the annual Shiite holiday of Ashoura and mourning of Imam Hossein’s death in his battle against a dictator by engaging in widespread protests against Iran’s own modern dictator. People were chanting “Allah o Akbar” and “death to dictator” in the background. The regime responded to protests by opening fire, killing as many as ten people (the latest figure at the time this piece is published).
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Understanding Iran’s protest movement
By: Bernard Gwertzman, Council on Foreign Relations, December 28, 2009
Bernard Gwertzman interviews Robin Wright, a longtime correspondent on Iran, Robin Wright, who covered the 1979 Iranian Revolution, says the resiliency of Iran’s opposition movement, despite a harsh crackdown, is motivated by broad-based desire for change in leadership and governance. Although the origin of the movement last June was to protest the results of the elections, Wright says the goals of the movement have since broadened. Now, she says, there is discussion about whether the Islamic Republic should be changed to the “Iranian” Republic. At the same time, the opposition coalition remains a disparate collection of forces that lacks a unifying concept for regime change and could fall apart if it succeeds in bringing about change, she says.  
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Holocaust survivor stages hunger strike for Gaza
By: Jailan Zayan, AFP and Yahoo News, December 28, 2009
An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was among a group of grandmothers who began a hunger strike in Cairo on Monday to protest against Egypt’s refusal to allow a Gaza solidarity march to proceed. American activist Hedy Epstein and other grandmothers participating in the Gaza Freedom March began a hunger strike at 1000 GMT.
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Iran: When rage overcomes fear
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices, December 27, 2009
Iranian protesters poured into Tehran and several major cities in defiance of the Iranian government on Sunday, as large crowds gathered for Ashura, a major religious observance. The crowds fought back security forces and chanted slogans against the Islamic regime. According to one opposition web site, at least four people were killed. While Iranian and international reporters were banned from the event, citizen media provided photos and video coverage.
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Angry activists and court case is making Chevron pretty nervous
By: Peter Asmus, East Bay Express, December 24, 2009
A dozen nonprofits are going right after the company’s greed, and the outcome will likely have repercussions in the oil industry for years to come. “It would have been a lot cheaper to settle back in 2001, when we were only asking for $1 billion to $3 billion,” said Amazon Watch Executive Director Atossa Soltani. “They’ve lost face and an opportunity. They now look like they are out of step with today’s values.”
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SOUTHEAST ASIA
Burma: China’s oil, gas pipelines recipe for abuse, warn activists
By: Marwaan Macan-Markar, IPS, December 31, 2009
China’s growing dependence on military-ruled Burma to meet its energy demands is poised to take concrete form when, according to activists, work commences in the coming months on the construction of oil and gas pipelines. The 980-kilometre journey of the pipelines across Burma will begin in the country’s Arakan state, on its western coast, and snake across flat and mountainous terrain to the eastern Shan state, which borders China. The pipelines will then continue to Kunming and Nanning, two major cities in southern China.
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Burma: Authorities demand data on opposition party
By: Khin Hnin Htet, Democratic Voice of Burma, December 30, 2009
Opposition party members in Burma are being forced to divulge personal details about their families and jobs to intelligence officers, reportedly on instruction from senior government. Lists of National League for Democracy (NLD) members in Mandalay division, Kachin state and Bago division have been drawn up, while birth dates of divisional members of Mandalay’s Chanmyayttharzan township were collected recently, NLD organizing member Myo Naing said.
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No political progress in Burma
By: Zin Linn, UPI Asia, December 29, 2009
Many political prisoners are reportedly seriously ailing and receiving no regular healthcare. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied free access to conduct confidential prison visits since December 2005. The junta continues to detain and incarcerate approximately 2,200 political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been confined to her residence for 14 of the last 20 years.
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Opposition lauds UN resolution on Burma
By: Salai Pi Pi,  Mizzima, December 28, 2009
A senior Burmese opposition leader today cautiously welcomed the United Nation’s resolution condemning the  junta for systematic human rights violations and lack of fundamental rights in the country. Win Tin, member of Central Executive Committee of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party National League for Democracy (NLD) said he welcomed the resolution of the UN General Assembly on human rights in Burma. He called it UN’s ‘routine work’ but morally very important.
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TOP
 

EAST ASIA
China: Backlash against rogue Chinese investors alarms Beijing
By: Antoaneta Bezlova, Truth Out, January 4, 2010
As China moves up in the world and the need for investment in its own infrastructure declines, Chinese investors and financiers are eyeing lucrative contracts in less developed countries, winning bids to build dams, power plants and highways from Burma to Uzbekistan and Angola. However welcome by local governments this influx of fresh Chinese financing may be, the wave of cheap Chinese labour and investors’ lack of concern for local communities are creating ripples of resentment in recipient countries, and gradually becoming a PR problem for image-conscious Beijing.
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Tibetan ‘living Buddha’ Phurbu Tsering jailed by China
By: BBC News, January 1, 2010
China has sentenced a Tibetan Buddhist lama to more than eight years in jail for illegal possession of ammunition and embezzlement. The monk, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, denies all charges, his lawyer said. The man described as a Living Buddha was arrested after nuns at his temple protested against a crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism.
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Hong Kong: New Year march for democracy
By: Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, January 1, 2010
Around 30-thousand Hong Kong residents spent the first day of the 2010 new year by marching in the street, demanding democracy and the release of Liu Xiaobo. To show their support for this rally, twitterers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China together pushed the hashtag #0101hk to the top ten trendy topics in Twitter. The new year rally was organized by the pan-democratic alliance to call for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. There are other demands, such as the release of mainland activist Liu Xiaobo, who advocated constitutional reform in China with the 08 Charter signature campaign and was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on a subversion charge in Christmas day 2009.
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China’s live-in protester
By: Bryan Farrell, Waging Nonviolence, December 30, 2009
When the managers of a Beijing restaurant marked for demolition were too busy to fight it, they posted an Internet ad and hired a stranger to stay there around the clock. The job seems to be a first for China, where frenzied urban construction has led to violent evictions, protests and even suicide. Over a million people were displaced from their homes and businesses to make way for last year’s Olympic venues. Now, due to a government stimulus package passed earlier this year to aid new construction, even more evictions are taking place and not just for the so called “public interest” but for the private development of shopping malls and luxury apartments.
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Tibetans defy crackdown to demonstrate for imprisoned Tibetan lama
By: International Campaign for Tibet, December 29, 2009
Security has been stepped up in the Tibetan area of Kham, part of present-day Sichuan province, and dozens of Tibetans have been detained and beaten after peaceful demonstrations in support of the imprisoned Tibetan lama, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a highly respected religious teacher serving a life sentence. Increased numbers of armed police and troops have been stationed in towns and villages where protests occurred – in an area that is already tense since demonstrations against Chinese rule spread across Tibet in March 2008.
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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. Liu’s trial is due to open on the morning of December 23 in Beijing.
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OCEANIA
Oil and politics prove fatal mix for the people of West Papua
By: Greg Poulgrain, The Age, December 31, 2009
In 1983 Greg Poulgrainwas sent by the London-based Anti-Slavery International to investigate reports that infant mortality along the southern coastline (where the army was rapaciously timber-felling) in West Papua was 600 per 1000. Such a figure was unprecedented, but correct. More recently, among indigenous West Papuans, the incidence of HIV/AIDS is 20 times the national average, according to a Voice of America report last December. Democratic reform will sooner or later end the impunity of the Indonesian army, but the dire conditions in West Papua demand an immediate halt to the army’s territorial command.
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