Nonviolent Action around the World – 7 August 2009 (Part 2)

August 7, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA

Undercover journalism in Burma – True heroism in action
By: R.M. Vaughan, Globe and Mail, August 7, 2009
Anders Ostergaard’s new documentary, Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country, is as real as it gets. The film depicts the dangerous, secluded life of undercover Burmese reporter “Joshua,” and his network of fellow dissidents, a group known as Democratic Voice of Burma.
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Is the Philippines a model for Burma’s future?
By: Alex Ellgee, Democratic Voice of Burma, August 6, 2009
Philippines has long been cited as a model for Burma’s democratic transition, and this was reiterated last week, when Obama announced that Arroyo would act as a “coordinating country” between the US and ASEAN, of which Burma is the political thorn in the side.
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UN chief piles pressure on Burma
By: IOL, August 6, 2009
UN chief Ban Ki-moon pressed Burma’s rulers to free political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, less than a week before the expected verdict in her trial. He spoke after convening a meeting of the “Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Myanmar” and said he received strong support from its 14 members.
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Protestors call for China to end discrimination towards Uyghurs
By: Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, August 6, 2009
Several hundred people will gather outside the United Nations in Geneva on August 7th 2009 to demand that China be held accountable for the longstanding cruel treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. It is timed to coincide with the 75th session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
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Burma: Junta permits new radio stations to air
By: Naw Noreen, Democratic Voice of Burma, August 5, 2009
Three new FM radio stations will soon begin broadcasting across 10 states and divisions in Burma in a joint operative between private companies and the Burmese government. This is the first time stations not fully owned by the government will be allowed to broadcast in the country.
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Malaysia: Peaceful demonstrations – What is your opinion?
By: Anas Zubedy, Let Us Add Value, August 5, 2009
Why march, when the government has said that it will review the Internal Security Act? Why march, when there are other very cosy ways of giving your views and feedback? Because thousands who died while in detention cannot march or speak any more.
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Rights group asks Malaysia to drop protest charges
By: AP, August 5, 2009
Human Rights Watch appealed to Malaysia on Wednesday to immediately drop charges against dozens of people arrested during a mass rally against a security law that allows for indefinite detention without trial. Twenty-nine people, including a 16-year-old, were charged Monday with taking part in an illegal rally.
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Chinese lawyers under attack: Isolated incidents or part of a pattern?
By: Countries at the Crossroads Governance Blog, August 5, 2009
On July 17, Chinese government officials raided the office of the Open Constitution Initiative, a prominent NGO that has carried out research on sensitive issues such as corruption and government policies in Tibet. The NGO’s closure was widely perceived as politically motivated.
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Trial of Chinese dissident ends without ruling
By: Gillian Wong, Newsday, August 5, 2009
A  state secrets trial of a Chinese dissident who criticized the government’s response to a massive earthquake last year ended Wednesday after three hours with no immediate ruling. Huang, 45, ran a human rights Web site and wrote about parents who had lost their children when badly built schools collapsed.
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China: Postcard campaign for detainees
By: Radio Free Asia, August 5, 2009
Chinese netizens have broadened a postcard campaign in support of high-profile prisoners of conscience following the release last week of Fujian-based blogger Peter Guo Baofeng. Guo became the focus of an impromptu postcard campaign after he tweeted his detention on July 15.
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China urged to cancel quake trials
By: Edward Wong, NY Times, August 5, 2009
Human rights advocates are calling on the Chinese government to cancel the criminal trials of two men who pushed for official investigations into the causes of widespread school collapses during the devastating 2008 earthquake. “These trials are…about silencing government critics,” said Human Rights Watch.
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Despite banning twitter, 92% of China uses social media
By: Dana Oshiro, NY Times, August 5, 2009
According to a recent report, Chinese netizens are twice as likely to use chat and three times more likely to micro-blog, blog and use video conference than American users. The Netpop Research study shows that mainland Chinese citizens are “more likely to share information broadly and openly.”
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China’s tally of 718 arrests in riots is questioned
By: Michael Wines, NY Times, August 4, 2009
Chinese authorities said that they had taken 718 people into custody in connection with last month’s ethnic riots in Xinjiang, but an official with an ethnic Uighur exile group said the true number was far higher. The government had previously said that more than 1,500 people had been detained after the riots.
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China snares NGOs with foreign funding
By: Simon Montlake, CS Monitor, August 4, 2009
It began with a tax notice for $200,000. Three days later, on July 17, officials raided the group’s Beijing office and seized its computers. Then, just before dawn on July 29, police detained its founder, Xu Zhiyong at his home. The tax fine for the group headed by Mr. Xu was assessed largely on a donation from Yale Law School.
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Burmese activist honoured with Asia’s highest award
By: Nem Davies, Mizzima, August 4, 2009
A Burmese human rights activist, who exposed the ruling junta’s human rights violations and environmental destruction, has been named one of the recipients of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award. Ka Hsaw Wa, tortured as a young activist but now running a human rights group, has been chosen along with five other rights activists.
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Cory Aquino and democracy in the Philippines
By: Sheila Coronel, openDemocracy, August 3, 2009
The Filipino opposition activist Benigno Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila airport on 21 August 1983, moments after his return to the country to challenge the rule of long-term president, Ferdinand Marcos. That was also the day Corazon Aquino stopped being, in her words, “just a housewife.”
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Burma activist awarded Asia’s Nobel prize
By: Reuters, August 3, 2009
An activist from Burma is among this year’s winners of the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Ka Hsaw Wa, co-founder of EarthRights International, was recognized for “dauntlessly pursuing non-violent yet effective channels of redress, exposure, and education for the defense of human rights, the environment and democracy.”
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Bangladesh: “Info lady” starts where “Phone lady” stopped
By: Abu Saeed Khan, LIRNEasia, August 3, 2009
D.Net (Development Research Network) is exploiting the so-called 2.75G (GPRS/EDGE) data coverage of mobile networks. Its “Info ladies” are equipped with “Classmate PC” fitted with data cards (modem). They travel door-to-door riding bicycles to connect the villagers with Internet.
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China: Detained activist’s Kafkaesque nightmare
By: Ullrich Fichtner, Spiegel Online, August 3, 2009
Ji Sizun, a legal activist who represented ordinary people, disappeared into the clutches of Chinese state security a year ago, on the fourth day of the Olympic Games in Beijing. He had wanted to demonstrate in one of the official “protest parks.” Instead, he ended up in prison.
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China: Kadeer rejects letters
By: Radio Free Asia, August 3, 2009
Exiled Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer has dismissed China’s claim that two of her children and her brother wrote letters condemning her for allegedly masterminding deadly riots last month in Urumqi. “This is not the first time this has happened to me,” Kadeer said.
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Hong Kong: Ten-dollar coin to pledge against political harassment
By: Oiwan Lam, Global Voices, August 3, 2009
During the protests over the demolition of Queen’s Pier in 2007, two activists filed a judicial review. The case was dismissed but the court ruled that they had to pay for the expenses of the lawyers. In response, activists decided to change the money into coins and throw them to the Department of Justice.
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Vietnam follows China, harasses dissidents
By: Michael Allen, Democracy Digest, July 21, 2009
Vietnam’s communist authorities are targeting the country’s democracy activists again, media agencies report. Democracy blogger Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested earlier this month, and Nguyen Tien Trung, an active member of the Vietnam Democratic Party, was arrested on 7 July.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA

Senior Polisario leader returns to Morocco
By: Morocco Board, August 6, 2009
Mr. Ahmed Souilem, a leading founding member of the Algeria-backed separatist movement of Polisario has defected and returned to Morocco. Mr. Souilem has served as a minister-advisor to the presidency of ” Sahrawi Republic.”
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Campaigners urge protection for Iranian dissidents in Iraq
By: Iran Focus, August 5, 2009
Human rights campaigners and an Iranian opposition group called on the international community to ensure the protection of Iranian dissidents in Iraq. Groups fear that at least 35 people arrested during a security operation in a camp for Iranian exiles in Iraq could be sent back to Iran.
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At Palestinian congress, Abbas urges nonviolent resistance
By: Richard Boudreaux, LA Times, August 5, 2009
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opened his Fatah movement’s first congress in 20 years Tuesday with a call to step up nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. He said Palestinians must find consensus on “the proper forms” of resistance at any given time but made it clear that this is not the time for bloodshed.
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Syria: Cyber-activism spreads
By: Institute for War and Peace Reporting, August 5, 2009
Increasing internet use in Syria has allowed young people to circumvent restrictions on forming pressure groups. It has created a virtual space for young people to form groups and start online social and political activities, said Faek al-Mir, a political activist and a former prisoner of conscience.
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Syrian regime tightens grip on dissenters
By: Institute for War and Peace Reporting, August 5, 2009
Mohannad al-Hassani, the head of the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights, was arrested by the state security services on July 28 after being summoned for interrogations. Syrian civil rights groups say the arrest of a prominent human rights advocate is a worrying sign that the authorities are increasing pressure on civil society.
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Egypt: Opposition equated with terrorists
By: Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani, IPS, August 4, 2009
The Egyptian government is now accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of links to Palestinian resistance groups and of establishing “global networks”. Recent months have seen a host of government accusations – which critics say are fabricated – against opposition groups it claims have ties with Hamas, Hizbullah, and Al-Qaeda.
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Sudan postpones ‘trousers’ trial
By: Al Jazeera, August 4, 2009
Sudanese police have used tear gas to disperse protesters outside a court in Khartoum, after the trial of a Sudanese journalist on indecency charges was adjourned for a second time. Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein  was arrested over her allegedly inappropriate trousers and has tried to challenge the law regulating women’s clothing.
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Police beat women opposing Sudan dress code trial
By: Mohamed Osman and Sarah El Deeb, Yahoo! News, August 4, 2009
Sudanese police fired tear gas and beat women protesting at the trial Tuesday of a female journalist who faces a flogging for wearing trousers in public. Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein could receive 40 lashes if found guilty of violating the country’s indecency law which follows a strict interpretation of Islam.
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Israel: Who should fund the NGOs?
By: Erika Solomon, Reuters, August 2, 2009
Recent articles in the Israeli press say that the Foreign Ministry is considering banning foreign government funding of “political NGOs”. Most consider this to be a reaction to the flurry of media attention given to the Israeli group Breaking the Silence , which published anonymous testimonies on IDF military action.
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Palestine: Children’s nonviolent march successful
By: Australians for Palestine, July 27, 2009
In the morning of July 27th over one hundred Palestinian children marched from at-Tuwani to the village of Tuba along a path where Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian children and shepherds, as well as international human rights advocates. The children marched carrying banners and Palestinian flags.
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TOP

 

OCEANIA

Pacific Islanders call for justice
By: Scoop, August 5, 2009
Many strong voices from Pacific, Melanesian, New Zealand and Australian civil society met in Cairns, North Queensland to raise concerns on climate change and human rights that are affected communities across the Pacific region. The group is calling for immediate greenhouse gas emissions cuts.
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Maldives: Corrupt judges must go for democracy to take root
By: Dhivehi Observer, August 4, 2009
Separation of powers is the cornerstone of a democracy. We now have an independent executive and a full parliament house. However, we still have the same old guard in the judiciary, with people like the Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who has become a bit of a pest, to say the least.
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Fiji pressed to return to democracy
By: Human Rights Watch, August 3, 2009
Condemning the “total disregard for basic human rights, democracy, and freedom” by Fiji’s interim military government, a human rights monitor sent a letter to leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum this week urging them to press Fiji to end such abuses and hold new elections.
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ARTICLES OF INTEREST

Paper: People power – How civil society blocked an arms shipment
By: Nicole Fritz, Kubatana.net, July 2009
In April 2008, a Chinese ship attempting to offload a consignment of arms for the Zimbabwean Defence Force, became a rallying point for civil society action in southern Africa and a focal point for world attention. This paper describes how civil society successfully opposed the transfer of the arms across southern African territory.
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NEWS IN OTHER LANGUAGES

Niger: Le coup d’Etat est consommé
By: Courrier International, August 6, 2009
Le président Mamadou Tandja a organisé un référendum le 4 août afin de modifier la Constitution et demeurer au pouvoir. En l’absence de tout contrôle démocratique, le oui va bien sûr l’emporter, ironise le quotidien burkinabé L’Observateur Paalga, qui invite l’opposition à préparer les élections législatives et lutter contre l’autocratie qui se met en place.
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BOOK REVIEW

Internet activism in China
By: Daniel Little, Understanding Society, August 4, 2009
Guobin Yang’s The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online is a boundary-breaking book. It is a sociology of the communities who use the internet in China; it is a contribution to the study of social movements; it is a history of a recent period of China’s modern history during which internet activism became important.
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NOTICES

The French Republic’s Human Rights Prize 2009
By: CNCDH, deadline September 30, 2009
The Human Rights Prize, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, awarded by the Prime Minister of the French Government, is open to applications. This prize is awarded for individual or collective action, irrespective of nationality or borders, with respect to one of two themes: freedom of speech or protection of street children.
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Call for action on UN Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By: Survival International, August 6, 2009
As the UN Day of Indigenous Peoples approaches on Sunday, Survival is renewing its call for countries to sign up to the international law for tribal peoples. ILO Convention 169, which marks its twentieth anniversary this year, is the only international law to recognize and protect the land rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.
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