Nonviolent action around the world – 8 January 2010 (Part 1)

January 8, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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NORTH AMERICA

Speaking truth to power
By: Tom H. Hastings, Hastings on Nonviolence, January 5, 2010
Tom Hastings reports, “When I give nonviolent trainings I stress that the more decades I engage in nonviolence, study nonviolence and observe the consequences of the aspects of campaigns, the more I’m convinced that nonviolent resistance is one part action and nine parts media and training to influence others. Going out to engage in action without worrying about the recruiting, training, liaison work, coalition-building and other aspects that bolster your power is simply ineffective. When we are all about individual spiritual witness or we are only concerned with burnishing our individual image to our radical compatriots we miss all of this by a wide margin.”
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Mexico is on the brink of its third revolution
By: Ramón Alberto Garza, Reporte Indigo, January 4, 2010
Everyone is aware that the political, economic, and social models that the country experimented with in the 20th century are worn out; they’ve expired. They no longer respond to current demands. Mexico is on the brink of its third revolution. he question is if that revolution will be peaceful, with a change of attitude and a re-founding of the Republic that would be developed beyond the interests that currently paralyze the nation.
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TOP

CENTRAL AMERICA/CARIBBEAN
Honduras military chiefs charged over Zelaya’s removal
By: BBC News, January 7, 2010
Honduran prosecutors have charged three military chiefs with abuse of power in connection with the ousting and exile of President Manuel Zelaya last June. The Supreme Court will now decide whether to start a case against them. Mr Zelaya was removed from office amid a row with the courts, Congress and the military over his plans to look at rewriting the constitution.
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SOUTH AMERICA
Letter of support for Iranian students from Venezuela’s university students federation
By: Roderick Navarro Durán, Payvand Iran News, January 7, 2010
This New Year will be the year of the young liberators, openers of a new cycle of life in the world for the welfare of all citizens, and the routing of our way of doing politics in our spaces. It will be the consolidation of a movement that has been characterized by being a faithful servant of the principles of university autonomy and the Constitution of the Republic. It will be the year where we will gather the fruits of the fight we have begun and we will show to those who try to silence the voices of the future, we will continue breaking paradigms due to our way of being, people and their messages, for our actions and footprints left behind.
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Bolivia debates media law reform
By: Joel Richards, NACLA, January 2, 2010
Thousands of MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) supporters filled the Plaza Murillo on Sunday, December 6, to catch a glimpse of the re-elected Bolivian president Evo Morales on the balcony of the Presidential Palace. Amidst the fireworks, clenched fists, celebrations and MAS flags read a banner, “Now it is time to nationalize the private media.” But the banner did not represent an ideological position as much it reflected the anger generated by the opposition the extremely popular Morales continues to face from the country’s privately owned media.
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Arrest order issued for Bolivian leader’s political foe
By: AFP, December 30, 2010
Officials in Bolivia issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for a leading political rival of leftist President Evo Morales, charging the conservative politician with tax evasion and election fraud. Manfred Reyes Villa, a former governor of the state of Cochabamba who challenged Morales for Bolivia’s presidency, has been in hiding since the December 6 election. An arrest order has also been issued for his wife.
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Report on massacre of native protesters in Peru biased, says head of inquiry
By: Milagros Salazar, IPS, December 30, 2009
The coordinator of the commission convened by the Peruvian government to clarify a June massacre of 33 indigenous protesters and police near the Amazonian town of Bagua refused to sign the final report, which he says is biased. Jesús Manacés, an Awajún leader who coordinated the special commission, told IPS that he did not sign the final report because it does not include the views of everyone involved and does not identify those who were responsible, in the political, police and military spheres.
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EUROPE
Fleeced: A letter from the Russian provinces
By: Elena Godlevskaya, Open Democracy, January 6, 2010
Oryol is famous for being one of Russia’s most corrupt cities. This is not so much because of the number of its corruption cases, but because of the high profile of those suspected and accused. They are the heads of local administrative bodies and businesses that are financed by the Oblast and federal budgets. Law enforcement agencies have confirmed that Oryol government reformers often confuse the state budget with their own pockets. Corruption has always been part of Russian life, and the Oryol region today just offers a rather extreme example, says Elena Godlevskaya. Some of the main perpetrators have been named, but the punishment being meted out to them is a joke.
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Russian parliament weighs stiffer penalties for protesters
By: Ellen Barry, NY Times, January 5, 2010
Among the draft laws that Russia’s Parliament will review when it reconvenes next week is a proposal that would increase significantly the punishment for protesters who block traffic or railway tracks, raising fines from 2,500 rubles, or $84, to 100,000 rubles, or $3,340, and increasing maximum prison sentences from 15 days to two years. Though blocking traffic had long been illegal in Russia the penalties were light ones, and the tactic had been used to attract Moscow’s attention in a series of high-profile protests.
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MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICA

Egyptians kill or wound Gaza protesters
By: Al Jazeera, January 6, 2010
At least one Egyptian border guard has been killed and 35 Palestinians wounded along the Gaza border during fierce clashes with Egyptian security forces. Egyptian forces opened fire to disperse stone-throwing protesters who had gathered on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing, witnesses and medics said.
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Israel, Gaza: Holocaust survivor explains why she became Palestinian rights activist
By: LA Times, January 6, 2010
Hedy Epstein is what some might see as a contradiction in terms: a survivor of the Holocaust and also a staunch advocate for the Palestinian people. Born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Epstein was 14 when she escaped from Nazi persecution via the Kinderstransport to England. Since her 1948 arrival in the U.S., Epstein has been an advocate for peace and human rights. In 2001 she founded the St. Louis chapter of the Women in Black anti-war group that originated in Israel, and has actively advocated for Palestinian rights since visiting the West Bank in 2003.
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Egypt: “Have a voice” campaign
By: Eman AbdElRahman, Global Voices, January 6, 2010
As Egypt gears up for its 2011 presidential elections, a group of bloggers have launched a new campaign to make people believe that they can usher in change and make their voices heard through voting. That’s how the Have a Voice campaign started, when Ghada Abdel Aal, Sherif Abdel Aziz, Marianne Ngui Hanna, Enas Lotfy, Hany George and the director Amr Salama worked on a short film to promote the idea, then formed a Facebook group to discuss their message, before moving it over to the blogosphere.
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Baha’is arrested in Iran after protests
By: RFE, January 6, 2010
Baha’i representatives say that Iranian police have arrested 13 members of the that religious community for alleged involvement in antigovernment protests, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports. The Baha’i community representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Diane Ala’i, told RFE/RL that the government is trying to link Baha’is to the recent demonstrations.
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Iran move to defrock dissident ayatollah opens rifts in theocracy
By: Iason Athanasiadis, The Christian Science Monitor, January 6, 2010
The decision to defrock a dissident ayatollah – widely considered to wear the mantle of spiritual leader of the opposition – has pried open conflicts within the Islamic Republic’s religious core. The Qom Theological Lecturers Association, a regime-aligned grouping of clerics, mandated Saturday that Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei’s edicts are no longer religiously binding. The ruling was furiously disputed by the rival Association of the Lecturers and Scholars of Qom Theological Seminary and the Association of Combatant Clerics.
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The latest tool for Iran’s opposition: iPhone apps
By: Jamal Abdi, The Huffington Post, January 6, 2010
Iranians will soon have a new tool at their disposal to broadcast their protests and their government’s repression to the outside world. Voice of America announced last week that it will unveil a new application for iPhone and Android mobile devices that will enable Iranians to upload videos, photos and other content to the VOA’s Persian News Network. The app will be available for download on VOA’s website, as well as through VOA’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and even from the Apple store.
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Akbar Ganji: My advice for Iran’s green movement
By: Akban Ganji, RFE, January 6, 2010
“The Green Movement has achieved much during the past seven months. It is a stark reflection of the dissatisfaction within Iranian society and, through its creation, it has brought many Iranians together. The movement has demonstrated that transition to a democratic society, based on human rights, is still possible without any foreign interference and foreign assistance. Many within the Green Movement, and other intellectuals, have focused on protests. But for some, the idea of rallying on the streets has become the end rather than the means.”
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These protests should shame the West into a change of policy on Iran
By: Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, January 6, 2010
Political change in Tehran is not just a moral matter. It’s our best hope of achieving Obama’s nuclear objectives. While the west has been on holiday, Iranians have again risked their lives to protest against an increasingly desperate, oppressive regime. America and Europe now need to consider urgently if our Iran policy is still the right one.
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Rights group slams arrests of women’s rights activists in Iran
By: Washington TV, January 6, 2010
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Tuesday condemned the widespread arrests of women’s rights activists and female journalists in Iran, and called for their immediate release. “It is evident that the authorities are singling out women’s rights activists and arbitrarily arresting them, as well as female journalists, in the context of recent public demonstrations,” said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the New York-based Campaign.
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Former Iranian militiaman admits to tampering with election
By: Mark Bergen, CNN, January 6, 2010
In an interview reported by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, a former member of the Iranian militia, the Basij, admits to tampering with the 2009 presidential elections — and says he was following a direct edict from Iran’s clerical leadership. Several months before the election, he said, Basij commanders directed rank-and-file members to ensure victory for the incumbent.
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An opposition manifesto in Iran
By: Robin Wright, LA Times, January 6, 2010
Groups protesting against the current regime reveal what they want a new Iranian government to look like. Iran’s so-called green movement is not yet a counterrevolution, but recent developments make clear it is heading in that direction. Seven months after the uprising began, an opposition manifesto is finally taking shape, and its sweeping demands would change the face of Iran. Three bold statements calling for reform have been issued since Friday, one by opposition presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, one by a group of exiled religious intellectuals and the third by university professors. Taken together, they suggest that the movement will not settle for anything short of radical change.
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Iran consul in Oslo quits over Tehran crackdown
By: Al Arabiya, January 6, 2010
The Iranian consul general in the Norwegian capital Oslo has resigned in protest against Tehran’s violent repression of opposition demonstrators, public television NRK said Wednesday. “It was the Iranian authorities’ treatment of demonstrators around Christmas which made me realize that my conscience would not allow me to continue in my job,” Mohammed Reza Heydari said in comments published on NRK’s website.
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Iran: China squashes US hopes for tough UN sanctions
By: Evelyn Leopold, The Huffington Post, January 5, 2010
Without hesitation, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations announced Beijing was not ready to impose additional sanctions against Iran, suspected by Western nations of trying to build an atomic bomb under the guise of nuclear energy. Ambassador Zhang Yesui told reporters on Tuesday that “the efforts aimed at diplomatic negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue still need some time and patience…A peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic means will be the best option, and is also in the common interest of the international community because sanctions itself is not an end.”
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Rights group decries Iran’s ban on 60 foreign organizations
By: Washington TV, January 6, 2010
Amnesty International said on Wednesday that it fears that a ban by the Iranian government on contact between Iranian citizens with 60 organizations, including human rights groups, will further isolate the population. On Monday, the deputy intelligence minister for foreign affairs said that it was an offense to communicate with the groups, which were accused of having played a role in inciting unrest following June’s disputed presidential election.
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Iran renews execution threat against protesters
By: Ramin Mostafavi and Hashem Kalantari, Iran Focus, January 5, 2010
Iran’s interior minister warned opposition activists on Tuesday they risk execution as enemies of God if they continue anti-government demonstrations, and the foreign ministry said arrested foreigners face punishment. Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar made the latest threat after the Intelligence Ministry said on Monday several foreigners engaged in a “psychological war” against the Islamic Republic were arrested on Dec. 27 in the bloodiest unrest since the aftermath of a disputed June 12 presidential poll.
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Change at hand in Iran
By: Alireza Jafarzadeh, The Baltimore Sun, January 5, 2010
In streets across Iran, on rooftops late at night and city walls, the cry now is “Death to Khamenei!” and “Death to the dictator!” There is no question that the nationwide uprisings target nothing less than the foundation of Iran’s ruling theocracy. After seven months of murder, rape and torture, the arrests of hundreds of dissidents, and a brutal crackdown in the streets, the theocratic regime has failed to turn back the movement. Both the opposition and the regime are on an irreversible path that can only lead to the latter’s downfall. As the opposition deepens and spreads, the political fissures at the top, including within the clergy, will also expand. There is no going back.
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Tehran professors decry handling of protesters
By: CNN, January 5, 2010
Nearly 90 professors at Iran’s oldest and largest university signed a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticizing the government’s violent handling of student protesters. “The issue that has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the devout Muslim and patriots of this land is the violent and above the law [illegal] encounters, particularly with University students and faculty members of this land,” says the letter, which was posted on the reformist Web site “Rahesabz,” or “Green Path.”
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Iran bans contact with foreign organisations, including the BBC
By: Robert Tait, The Guardian, January 5, 2010
Authorities in Iran intensified their campaign to blame the country’s political turmoil on foreigners today by banning contact with more than 60 international organisations. The intelligence ministry said the blacklist included thinktanks, universities and broadcasting organisations identified as waging a “soft war” aimed at toppling Iran’s Islamic system.
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Is Iran heading towards another revolution?
By:  Ahmad Alehossein, Open Democracy, January 5, 2010
Iran’s history contains three millennia of despotism, but also three revolutions in the past century alone. The current unrest may suggest that another is on its way. It poses formidable challenges to both the current regime and the moderate reformist leadership.
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Iran: Away from the big cities
By: Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, January 5, 2010
Ashura was a turning point. This is a psychological and spiritual struggle at its core. It is about the very legitimacy of the Khamenei junta’s right to claim religious and political leadership of Iranians. The election itself was a coup de foudre, but the junta’s response to the vote was disastrously ill-footed. As Machiavelli taught, the only thing more dangerous than allowing dissent to take hold is to suppress it incompetently.
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Iran: Widespread arrests of women’s rights activists, female journalists and relatives
By: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, January 5, 2010
Numerous women’s rights campaigners, female journalists and relatives are being arrested and persecuted as authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran attempt to repress masses of Iranians from advocating for their civil rights in recent weeks, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. “It is evident that the authorities are singling out women’s rights activists and arbitrarily arresting them, as well as female journalists, in the context of recent public demonstrations,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for the Campaign.
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Putting lens on lives in suspended animation in Gaza
By: Ethan Bronner, NY Times, January 5, 2010
In the year since Israeli fighter jets and troops invaded this coastal Palestinian strip to stop rocket fire, time seems to have stood still. A blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt to isolate the Hamas government bars the vast majority of goods and people from moving in or out. That means there is no reconstruction of destroyed buildings. Thousands remain homeless. Winter has arrived. With humanitarian aid staving off hunger and disease, perhaps the hardest part for people here is the feeling of having been forsaken. The economy is closed down and the exits have been shuttered; a pall of listlessness hovers.
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Turkey: DTP party ban triggers mass protests over Turkish Kurdistan
By: Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, Global Voices, January 5, 2010
On December 11, the Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) was shut down by the Constitutional Court of Turkey, unanimously. The charges where in connection to a terrorist organization aka the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) of Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently in jail. In the aftermath of the decision, protests erupted all over Turkey and, by now, there are already two Kurdish militants dead [pt] in the city of Mus and tension has reached its top level in years while violent protests continue.
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Saudi rights NGOs write to king about jailed activist
By: Reuters, January 4, 2010
A Saudi human rights group has sent an open letter to King Abdullah complaining about what it called the “brutal torture” of a prominent septuagenarian rights activist and demanding the release of other detained activists.
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Israel: Anti-wall activists rally outside prison
By: Ma’an News, January 4, 2010
Anti-wall activists demonstrated outside Israel’s Ofer Prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday to demand the release of detained activist Jamal Juma to concide with the convening of his military court hearing. Jamal Juma, 47, the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign was detained on 16 December 2009 without being charged and is considered “a prisoner of conscience” the organizers of the rally said in a statement on Monday.
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Foreigners ‘among Iran arrests’
By: Al Jazeera, January 4, 2010
Several foreign citizens were among those arrested in Iran during recent clashes between opposition supporters and security forces, Iranian state media has said. Heidar Moslehi, Iran’s intelligence chief, told state television on Monday that the foreigners had been leading a “psychological war” against the state.
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Iranian officials close opposition Ayatollah’s mosque
By: RFE, January 4, 2010
Iranian authorities have locked the doors of a prominent mosque in the southern city of Shiraz that is the base of an opposition ayatollah, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reports. It is reportedly the first time a Shi’ite mosque has been closed by the government in Iran. With the Ghoba Mosque shuttered, worshipers have been praying outside the mosque, which is one of the most important in the city.
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Iran: Intelligence Ministry blacklists Yale and dozens of other Western institutions
By: LA Times, January 4, 2010
Yale University joins the ranks of news organizations such as the Persian-language Voice of America and BBC Persian as well as Beltway think tanks such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that have been accused of being part of a “soft war” waged against Iran by its enemies.  
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Kuwait: Government attempts to censor blogs ‘unacceptable’
By: Ahmad Saeid, Kuwait Times, January 4, 2010
A number of Kuwaiti bloggers said that government’s attempt to impose censorship on blogs is unacceptable and unrealistic. The comments were made amidst expectations of the government’s plan to amend the ‘audio-visual Law’ after a TV show on the Al-Soor channel caused a wave of outrage amongst Kuwaiti tribes. “It was only a matter of time before these restrictions were imposed on bloggers,” said Amer Al-Mutairy, a Kuwaiti blogger. He added that the government has been waiting for the right excuse to strengthen its grip on the blogging community.
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Action against internet censorship in Algeria
By: Algerian Review, January 4, 2010
The Algerian authorities have started an Internet filter, and inaugurated the year 2010 by a first ban on an opposition website. Today it’s this opposition movement, tomorrow it can be your blog or website, and some day it may even be Youtube or Facebook. Clearly it is time to actively fight against this blatant act of censorship. This article calls on all Algerian internet citizens around the globe to participate in the campaign for freedom of speech and against censorship in the country.
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Tunisia and Bahrain block individual twitter pages
By: Jillian York, Global Voices, January 4, 2010
First, governments blocked Blogspot. Then they blocked Facebook, and then Twitter. And just when technophiles all over the globe started groaning, a couple of governments got a bit wiser to social media and, rather than block the entire platform for the transgressions of one user, began blocking individual accounts instead. Notably, this has happened in the past with YouTube where, rather than cut off the video-sharing site for all users, a government will simply block a single video; the latest trend seems to be blocking individual Twitter pages.
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Iran: “The government took my sister hostage”
By: Omid Memarian, IPS, January 3, 2010
The Iranian government has intensified its pressure on political and human rights activists since the harsh crackdown on protesters on the holy day of Ashura, arresting major political figures and even their family members, including Noushin Ebadi, the sister of Noble Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi.
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