Nonviolent Action around the World – 8 May 2009 (Part 1)

May 8, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA

anch1Eritrea: Slender land, giant prison
By: Ben Rawlence, openDemocracy, May 6, 2009
Eritrea has avoided international attention in recent years in ways that may have protected the Red Sea country’s rulers from proper scrutiny but benefit no one else. Even those who recall that the continent’s youngest state gained its unlikely independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a bloody thirty-year struggle may be shocked to hear that the optimistic nationalism of the 1990s has been dissolved under President Isaias Afewerki into a despairing void, causing thousands of Eritreans to flee the country that they fought so hard to establish.
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Judge frees Zimbabwean rights activist, 14 others, after political intervention
By: Associated Press, May 6, 2009
A human rights activist and 14 others were ordered freed on bail Wednesday after Zimbabwe’s president and prime minister forced a judge to reverse her decision to send them back to the prison where they said they had been tortured. Harare Magistrate Catherine Chimanda ignited international outrage Tuesday by revoking bail for human rights advocate Jestina Mukoko and 17 others, saying prosecutors had formally charged them in a terrorism case.
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Kenyan women on abstinence strike: Why did they do it?
By: Nekessa Opoti, Kenya Image, May 5, 2009
The backlash from Kenyans is not surprising. The chatter on social networking sites, and in email conversations, shows that many Kenyans do not believe that this was the right strategy.  But first let’s look at examples in recent history where women have gone on sex strikes to make political, human rights and economic statements.
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Late Nigerian activist’s son to see Shell in court
By: Maria Sanminiatelli, Associaed Press, May 5, 2009
Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr. has been fighting for more than 13 years to make his late father’s prediction come true. It will happen this month when relatives of victims of the Nigerian government’s violent crackdown on residents of the oil-rich region, where Royal Dutch Shell had drilling operations, will get to challenge the deaths and injuries in a U.S. court.
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Zimbabwean migration camouflages human traffickers
By: IRIN, May 5, 2009
To the untrained eye, the human tide surging through the South African border town of Musina is just that: a mass of people leaving behind Zimbabwe’s collapsed economy to seek job opportunities and a better life, or refuge in a neighbouring country. Sebelo Sibanda, of Lawyers for Human Rights in Musina, is a more acute observer; he sees changes taking place in a migration that is believed to number between one million and more than three million people.
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Video: Zimbabwean women affected by political violence speak out
By: The Research and Advocacy Unit, May 4, 2009
In 2008, political violence erupted throughout Zimbabwe as a result of the contested national elections. Zimbabwean women of all ages, targeted for their political affiliations, were abducted from their workplaces and homes, raped, tortured, and beaten in secret torture centers. It is estimated that from May to July, state-sanctioned groups raped over 2,000 women and girls.
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Africa: Reforming security forces
By: Ernest Harsch, allAfrica, April 29, 2009
In Africa’s new democracies, reformers are seeking to create armies that protect civilians and uphold human rights. “Liberia is building a new army and we are very strict regarding its standards,” says Lieutenant Eric Dennis, who teaches international humanitarian law to recruits. In a country where previous armies – government and rebel alike – committed widespread atrocities, he hopes to help build a new institution that “will never tarnish the image of our army and our country. We want an army of professional soldiers.”
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Uganda: Kampala Declaration of Human Rights Defenders
By: Protectionline, April 23, 2009
We, 85 human rights defenders from 45 African States, and 33 partners from across the world, gathered at the All-Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference held in Kampala, Uganda from 20 to 23 April 2009, and hosted by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net), in close collaboration with all other subregional networks: condemn the significant number of HRDs who have been killed in their efforts to promote and protect universal human rights since the All Africa Human Rights Defenders Conference of November 1998 held in Johannesburg.
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TOP

AMERICAS

Cuba: Sister of dissident ‘Antunez’ looks to sway lawmakers
By: Lesley Clark, Miami Herald, May 7, 2009
The sister of a prominent black Cuban activist delivered a sharply worded letter from her brother Wednesday to three members of the Congressional Black Caucus who met last month in Cuba with Fidel and Raúl Castro — but no dissidents. Berta Antúnez’s visit comes as efforts to open Cuba to travel and trade heat up on Capitol Hill, and Antúnez said through an interpreter she didn’t want Cuban democracy activists to be overlooked.
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Mexican NGOs, Brigadier General, unite in letter against “Plan Mexico”
By: Kristin Bricker, Narco News Bulletin, May 7, 2009
Yesterday, 72 Mexican civil society organizations and a Brigadier General of the Mexican Army sent the following letter to US Congress demanding that all military aid to Mexico be immediately halted. The letter comes as the US House of Representative is considering more than doubling 2009 funding for the war on drugs in Mexico. Human rights organizations from Mexico City and 21 of Mexico’s 31 states signed the letter.
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Peru: Perenco and armed forces break indigenous blockade
By: Survival, May 6, 2009
A gunboat belonging to Peru’s armed forces has broken through an Indian river blockade in the northern Peruvian Amazon. The gunboat, together with at least one boat belonging to Anglo-French oil company Perenco, broke the blockade at 5:15 am on 4 May. The blockade, organised by local indigenous people, is on the Napo river, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon.
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US: Another AWOL Iraq war resister moves to Canada
By: Washington Peace Center, May 6, 2009
While home on leave in January 2007, Army Spc Kimberly Rivera made the life changing decision that she would not be returning to the Iraq War. Instead, she packed up the family car and drove to Canada with her husband and two children. She is currently one of about fifty AWOL US war resisters who are openly seeking sanctuary in Canada. This is her story.
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Venezuela: Police break up anti-Chavez march with tear gas
By: Fabiola Sanchez, Miami Herald, May 6, 2009
Hundreds of Venezuelan police and National Guard troops broke up a protest march Friday with volleys of tear gas and blasts from water cannons that scattered a crowd of President Hugo Chavez’s opponents. Officials said about 20 people were treated for minor injuries, mostly for inhaling gas, while one police officer and a demonstrator suffered small cuts when they were hit by hurled objects. Some marchers were carried away after being overcome by tear gas.
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Immigration activists plan May Day rallies
By: Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, May 1, 2009
Buoyed by perceptions of a bright political climate for immigration reform, thousands of activists plan to rally today in Los Angeles and nationally for migrant and labor rights. But even as President Obama, a Democratic Congress and many immigrant activists agree on the major outlines of a reform package, some Southern California activists say differences among them have shattered previous unity and resulted in plans to field separate marches.
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA

Burma: U.S. man arrested for entering Suu Kyi home
By: Saeed Ahmed, CNN, May 7, 2009
About 20 police officers entered the tightly guarded home of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday, a day after authorities detained an American swimming away from the property across a lake. “We heard about it this morning. We don’t know the reason yet,” said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. “We think they are investigating the event of one U.S. citizen who went to the house using the lake.”
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Afghans protest over Farah deaths
By: Al Jazeera, May 7, 2009
Afghans have staged an angry protest following the suspected deaths of up to 100 civilians in a US-led air raid in western Farah province. Shots were fired on Thursday as the demonstrators threw stones at government offices in the town of Farah, the provincial capital. Several people were wounded in the melee, Gul Ahmad Ayubi, a health department official, said.The protest came as a team of US and Afghan government investigators arrived in the Bala Baluk district to gather more information about Monday’s incident.
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Thailand: Burmese factory workers demand rights
By: Khin Min Zaw, Democratic Voice of Burma, May 7, 2009
Factory workers in a Thai town close to the Burmese border yesterday held a protest in front of the Labour Rights Protection office to demand full wages and health care in the workplace. Burmese migrants working in a garment factory in Mae Sot had complained that wages were insufficient, and that working conditions were poor.
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Dozens held at Malaysian protest
By: BBC News, May 7, 2009
Dozens of people in Malaysia have been arrested for taking part in opposition-led protests over who controls the parliament in the state of Perak. Police were deployed outside the state legislature, while inside ministers scuffled and shouted at each other. The state has become the focus of a power struggle between Malaysia’s ruling party and the main opposition.
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Nepal police clash with protesters
By: Al Jazeera, May 7, 2009
Riot police have clashed with hundreds of female protesters from Nepal’s communist party. About 500 women had gathered in front of the president’s office in the capital, Kathmandu, on Thursday to demand that he dismiss the head of the army. A number of the protesters were injured after they were beaten with bamboo sticks as they tried to break through a police cordon around the building.
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China’s web is watching
By: Radio Free Asia, May 6, 2009
Citizens frustrated by official corruption have a new weapon on their side: the Web. Residents of Ruyou village near the provincial capital of Haikou were surprised to see the tomb of Wang Anchun in a photograph posted online as part of a campaign to protect burial grounds from nearby road construction works.
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Taiwan: The retreat of freedom of the press bodes poorly
By: Leon Chuang, Taipei Times, May 6, 2009
A few days ago, US-based Freedom House released a global survey entitled Freedom of the Press 2009 in which Taiwan’s press freedom ranking fell by 11 places from last year’s list. It was no surprise that Taiwan’s ranking dropped, but the size of the fall is much greater than expected and very worrying. More worrying still is the fact that Hong Kong has been relegated from the “free” category to “partly free.”
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Pakistan: Freedom House condemns Uighur extraditions
By: News Blaze, May 6, 2009
Freedom House condemns Pakistan’s recent decision to violate international law by handing over a group of Uighur exiles to the Chinese authorities. The case is a disturbing sign of China’s growing influence in the region and illustrates how vulnerable Uighurs, a Muslim minority group in Western China, are to persecution both inside and outside China.
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Burmese opposition groups urge increased sanctions pressure
By: Lalit K Jha, The Irraqaddy, May 6, 2009
Two major Burmese opposition groups have urged the US to maintain and stiffen its economic sanctions against the military junta until all political prisoners are released and the regime agrees to a meaningful dialogue with the National League of Democracy (NLD) and ethnic representatives. The text of the letter, written by the All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA) and the 88 Generation Students to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was released to the press on Tuesday.
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India: A story for Naga women
By: Shiluinla Jamir, The Morung Express, May 6, 2009
Naga women’s protest yesterday happened in the backdrop of increased violence against women and the many forms of violence which are increasingly becoming intrinsic to our everyday realities in our communities. This march that we took yesterday should continue to be a process till we are able to reclaim our selfhood as women…
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China quake parents ‘harassed’
By: Michael Bristow, BBC News, May 6, 2009
Many parents want to return to the site of the schools in Sichuan that killed their children when they collapsed. But the authorities have previously stopped them going to the schools on sensitive occasions, and are said to be monitoring the parents ahead of 12 May.
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Nepal politics in choppy waters
By: Rhoderick Calmers, Mail Today, May 5, 2009
While India is preoccupied with elections, Nepal risks throwing away the chance of peace that its own successful polls delivered just a year ago. The immediate crisis stems from the Maoists’ attempt to oust army chief General Rookmangud Katwal for disobeying government orders, a controversial move opposed even by their own coalition partners. President Ram Baran Yadav countermanded the sacking, arguing that he has the right to accept or reject government decisions.
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Maoist lock, Nepali key
By: Kanak Mani Dixit, openDemocracy, May 5, 2009
After two days of constitutional and political crisis, the politics of Nepal took another twist when prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (“Prachanda’) announced on the afternoon of 4 May 2009 that he would resign from leadership of the government. Towards the end of a fourteen-minute speech full of tirades against political opponents and pot-shots directed at New Delhi, Dahal suddenly announced that he was leaving his post.
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Zoya Phan: The face of Burmese protest
By: Elizabeth Grice, Telegraph UK, May 5, 2009
Destiny is a big, portentous, overworked word. Zoya Phan never once uses it. But for her followers it is the only way to make sense of how she escaped persecution in the Burmese jungle and became, aged only 28, a human rights campaigner in the mould of her assassinated father, and the most powerful political activist for Burma living in Britain.
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China: “Workers joining students in Beijing demonstrations”
By: Sophie Beach, China Digital Times, May 5, 2009
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring.
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China: Life is a trial for Chinese lawyer
By: Barbara Demick, LA Times, May 5, 2009
For the family of Gao Zhisheng, a maverick lawyer under house arrest for years after confronting the Communist Party head-on, security was so tight that police sometimes sat in the bedroom of their Beijing apartment, insisting the lights remain on all night so they could keep an eye on them. On Jan. 9, Gao abruptly walked out of the Beijing apartment. When the police rushed after him, Geng and the two children left. Gao was seized at his brother’s home in Shaanxi the morning of Feb. 4 and has not been heard from since, his family told human rights advocates.
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Nowhere safe for Vietnamese bloggers
By: Le Thanh Trung, Viet Tan, May 4, 2009
A major leap forward for freedom of expression in Vietnam has been the rise of blogs. But this development has led to growing conflicts between bloggers, government authorities, and, potentially, multinational Internet service companies. Initially, bloggers who cared about national issues in Vietnam got connected over the Internet. After a period of trial and challenge, many developed into commentators on political issues and started to attract large readerships. The unprecedented explosion of information exchange caused concern among government authorities, who strictly control Vietnam’s mainstream media.
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Directory of 61+ women English-language China bloggers
By: Elliott Ng, CN Reviews, May 4, 2009
Have you ever noticed that most English-language China blogs are written by men?  While the universe of women English China blogs may be smaller, these blogs add voices that may hint at the differences in experience between foreign men and women in China.  As a start, we compiled a directory of 48 61 women who blog about China primarily in English.  Most of these bloggers are currently in China but some are not.  The list also includes group blogs and anonymous blogs.
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Vietnam: End crackdown on labor activists
By: Human Rights Watch, May 4, 2009
The Vietnamese government should immediately free activists who have been unlawfully imprisoned for peacefully campaigning for workers’ rights, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The 32-page report, “Not Yet a Workers’ Paradise: Vietnam’s Suppression of the Independent Workers’ Movement,” documents the Vietnamese government’s crackdown on independent trade unions and profiles labor rights activists who have been detained, placed under house arrest, or imprisoned by the Vietnamese government in violation of international law.
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China’s commercialization of censorship
By: Christopher Walker and Sarah Cook, Far Eastern Economic Review, May 2, 2009
The Chinese authorities continue to be among the world’s most repressive when it comes to press freedom. What may come as a surprise, however, is the growing commercialization of censorship in the country, where the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) is creating a 21st century media model that relies on the market to muzzle free expression. The irony is that the dominant Western narrative on China has it that market-oriented development would inevitably lead to liberalization, including, presumably, for the news media.
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India: Boycott keeps Kashmir voters home
By: The Peninsula, May 1, 2009
A separatist boycott stifled voter turnout yesterday in Kashmir as India’s multi-stage general election moved into districts known for their staunch opposition to New Delhi’s rule. When the polls closed only 26 percent of the 1.1 million eligible voters in Kashmir’s Anantnag-Pulwama constituency — a militant hotbed — had cast their ballots, the region’s chief electoral officer B R Sharma told reporters.
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