Welcome to the November 29, 2014 edition of this Peace&Justice action email!
Given that this is a human right’s newsletter, the primary action is to take part in Amnesty International’s global Write-for-Rights campaign. In addition there is an action related to Darfur and the UN’s mishandling of the situation, and an action to raise again the hope that the U.S. will ratify the Convention on Child Rights.
In addition are a couple of follow-up and other articles of note.
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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL WRITE-FOR-RIGHTS
Consider joining the annual Write-For-Rights campaign, where hundreds of thousands of people around the world write letters or take other actions on behalf of those unjustly detained, tortured, imprisoned! It takes place during the first 2-3 weeks of December, coinciding with Human Rights Day, December 10. You can join a group, take web actions, or better yet create your own group (they can supply you with all necessary material)!
DARFUR: TOWN WOMEN RAPED; UN REPORT IN DENIAL
On October 31 Sudanese forces entered the town of Tabit, reportedly beating the men and then raping 200 women, many of them girls. The UN peacekeeping force (UNAMID) was 30 miles away. They sent a team to investigate three days later but soon after arriving and reportedly getting a little corroborating evidence, the Sudanese forces kept them out for a week. When UNAMID came back they could not get anyone to confirm the atrocity. Their eventual report denied any rape had taken place. Given other corroborating testimony, this has shed light not only on this incident but has confirmed the suspicions of many about UNAMID’s compromised reporting in general. Apart from creating a furor at the UN, it has now frayed relations with Sudan who has verbally asked UNAMID for an exit path.
The following petition by Waging Peace (UK) demands an immediate investigation into the mass rape, that the UN provide immediate medical and psychological treatment for the victims and that the government soldiers be held accountable for their brutal crimes, including compensation for the victims.
The event is sickening. And on a revealing ironic note, the town – Tabit – was one of five towns that were designated in June as one of Darfur’s “model villages”, that is, suitable for the voluntary return of displaced persons. It demonstrates what most people knew – the effort by the government to paint the conflict as over, is an utter farce (for fuller overall details of conditions of Darfur and Sudan see: Current Status [UntilAll]).
US: RATIFY THE CONVENTION ON RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
The US and Somalia (and newly created South Sudan) are the only countries who have not ratified the Convention on The Rights of the Child. November 20 was Universal Children’s Day. The action below was to tell U.S. President Obama to announce on that day that he will submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification.
It may seem stunning to some to think that the US, who helped shape the Convention, has not ratified it. As the background articles indicate, US failure to ratify it stems largely from concern over the possibility of it undermining parental authority. Many countries include formal reservations and declarations of interpretations, so that the Convention won’t override national interpretations of their laws and customs. Given that all other Western countries with the same basic standards on issues of concern have not been affected by ratifying the treaty, such US concerns do not seem to be grounded in reality, but rather agendas.
US-ONLY: Tell President Obama to Sign:
Tell Obama to Ratify Treaty
ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS / ISIL)
The emergence of a new, well-funded, tech- and media-savvy terrorist group that uses grotesque acts and images as one of its chief vehicle for spreading fear and gaining recruits, has caught the Western world scrambling to react. Analysis of this truly despicable group abound; there is little to add. Short-term actions have already been implemented. Such actions at best can only contain the immediate situation and by their fast-reaction nature contain terribly compromised elements that easily spark other sometimes worse results.
This newsletter would be remiss not to note this new repugnant dynamic. Specifically, how do we dissipate ISIS, so that it is only known as a footnote in history? Bombs and bullets (and intelligence gathering and other tactics) may reduce some immediate threat, but they cannot dispel an idea that has gained such deadly traction. For that one needs the long-term classic nonviolent strategy of strengthening the reasonable voices on all sides. This will be explored more in the next newsletter. One role is to use Islam itself to combat the horrible distortions (and yet that somehow have appeal) and provide a more solid and compelling alternative vision. Given that 85% of the victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims [Sanders: The Myth of the Muslim Tide], no one has a greater stake in this than Muslims. The following is a sample:
Using Islam To Combat ISIS [Huffington Post; MPAC]
Stay tuned for more on how this seemingly hyper-idealistic strategy can actually contain much grip.
=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
Bee Decline Now Evidence Of Bird Decline
A decline in bee populations due to a new pesticide (neonicotinoid family) has previously been highlighted in this newsletter. Now a Dutch study has linked it to a decline in the bird population, though it need further work.
=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
Is Selection Process for UN Peacekeepers Flawed?
Reports coming from some of the top UN troop-contributing countries indicate that many troops are not adequately educated regarding basic human right. Often they come from areas which have poor human right records. Examples were given where UN troops, when previously in their country, were part of serious rights violations. For others, it is a “reward” thus reducing any motivation to take seriously the UN mandate. In 2012 the UN set up guidelines for this overall issue but the vetting process thus far seem unable to address basic flaws.
Is U.S. Public TV Dominated by the One-Percent?
In a world where traditional meda is continually squeezed thereby diminishing the range of voices heard and in-depth journalism, one presumes that atleast in the public broadcast sphere there is a better range. Yet a study by FAIR has found that most U.S. public broadcasting stations have governing boards dominated by the corporate sector. Even billionaire David Koch sits as a trustee.
While recognizing the value of business people to ensure sound fiscal policies, the point raised here is one of dominance. On the one hand those from the corporate world constitute 84% of the governing bodies and most are drawn from elite entities. On the other hand there is a dearth of other areas – few academics, and almost no journalists, educators, artists and leaders of nonprofit groups.