July 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to the July 31, 2013, issue of this Peace&Justice action email.

This issue is a brief summer version of the newsletter, much more sparse than usual due to time constraints. The most glaring omission, in terms of big news stories, is Egypt; there are always plenty of little-known conflicts that get missed.  Please accept my apologies.

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Pour la traduction française: cliqueter ici; et cliqueter alors le bouton de traduction sur la page Web.
Para la traducción española: clic aquí; y entonces hace clic en el botón de traducción en la página web.

 

 

 

 

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TUNISIA: FREE WOMAN UPHOLDING WOMEN’S EQUALITY

Tunisia was the start of the “Arab Spring.”  Recently, an 18 year old woman was alarmed by a Salafist (conservative Islamic) group who were opposing the equality of women.  She wrote a single word (“Femen”, the name of an international women’s movement) on a wall surrounding a cemetery, for which she has been jailed.  The charges and possible lengthy sentences are considered politically motivated and are deemed an infringement her right to freedom of expression.

Tell Tunisia to release Activist:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/Amina

 

 

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TURKEY: STOP EXCESSIVE FORCE AGAINST PEACFUL PROTESTORS

As with many of the recent popular protests, the one in Turkey started with a dispute over the use of a park, in this case Gezi Park, in Istanbul, Turkey.  Prime Minister Erdogan dug in his heels and has tried to quell the protests with violence, rather than listening to the demands.  Of course behind the park issue, are complex dynamics, including a long-simmering distrust of the conservative leanings of the Prime Minister.

Tell Turkey to Stop Using excessive Force:
http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1770&ea.campaign.id=20914

 

 

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SYRIA: STOP EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS OF CIVILIANS

If you use Twitter or Facebook, you may want to mobilize your social media skills to spread this report about stopping extra-juridical killings in Syria.  Basically, as has been part of the brutal campaign, some areas are being targeted to terrorize the civilian population as a means of reducing support for the rebels, as documented in the following Amnesty briefing:

Take Social Media Action:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/syria-civilians-killed-2013-07-25

 

 

 

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=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
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Darfur: Sill Mired in Problems

Darfur is our longitudinal study.  There is no action for this month, but you can see a sketch of the latest events at www.UntilAll.org/darfur.htm.

 

Guatemala Genocide Trial a Landmark . . . Then Scrapped . . . Then Conviction . . . Then Overturned

The last newsletter indicated that the landmark trial had been derailed by a separate court ruling but was holding out hope for an appeal.  So it is both a relief and a triumph of justice and vindication of those who testified that Efraín Ríos Montt, former leader of Guatemala, has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity:
https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/05/10/guatemala-rios-montt-convicted-genocide

However that relief was short-lived sine the verdict was then overturned [The Guardian (May 21)] . . . though as of June 4, in yet another twist, the Guatemalan Supreme Court rejected a motion to quash proceedings, and has set a new trial date of April 2014.

 

Bees:  Good News, Bad News:

A previous action called for the ban of a certain pesticide in the European Union.  The good news is that it has been banned, so thank you for all who took action.  As has been reviewed previously, such web actions seldom bring change on the own, but can help provide crucial support and backing as part of an overall strategy to bring change.  The following link provides a window into the pieces that were involved to getting the ban passed:
http://www.dailycensored.com/we-did-it-europe-just-banned-bee-killing-pesticides/

But in the U.S., the EPA just allowed a different but also toxic pesticide, sulfoxaflor, to be used on several crops, even while acknowledging it is highly toxic to honey bees.  It added an advisory for honey bees, but one which sounds quite unworkable, such as having to notify beekeepers before and after usage, advising them to keep their bees in the hive, etc.  This is not a precautionary approach to protecting such a vital link in the food chain:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/09-3

Finally – recently in – researchers have discovered that the application of fungicides may be behind some of the rapid decline in bees.  Thus it is looking like a more complicated cocktail of interactions:
http://qz.com/107970/scientists-discover-whats-killing-the-bees-and-its-worse-than-you-thought/

 

Burma & the Rohingya: Violent Buddhists, a silent Aung San Suu Kyi, and maybe an Al-Qaeda link?

Burma was noted in an earlier newsletter for its surprising, puzzling (and world-hesitant to acknowledge) overtures to open up its previously iron-clad country.  Recently there have been several articles highlighting the recent problems with two minority groups.  There is a long history behind it all, and on its face one sees the contradictions of, for example, supposedly nonviolent Buddhists being extremely violent (although other Buddhists did come to protect the victims), the world acclaimed human rights defender Aung San Suu Kyi being silent about the repugnant human rights violations, and even a possible Al-Qaeda thread in among there.  Again deeper analysis is needed, but the following are just a couple of articles trying to sketch the terrain.
TIME Magazine article
Toronto Star article

 

DRC: Searching For An Internal Solution For The Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been enmeshed in one of the world’s longest and deadliest conflicts (most often given as over 5 million deaths as a result of the conflict), stunningly for the most part off the mainstream news radar.  This newsletter has highlighted some of the initiatives that have been made.  Here is another analysis
Towards internal solutions to the DRC crisis [IRIN]

 

 

 

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=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
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Brazil Protests:

Given the above actions on popular protests, and while there are many more than simply Brazil, there is an essay on openDemocracy that gives an interesting sketch of the basic issues and challenges facing the country and protestors.  Sparked initialling by student demand for better transportation given a hike in rates, the protest has spread, becoming neither anti-Brazil nor anti-football, but very broadly a call to implement a higher vision for Brazil.  It covers many areas and includes the broad dissatisfaction found within a rising country that now has a sufficiently large middle-class.  They have joined the protest over government policies that have led to hosting the Confederation Cup then the FIFA Cup then the Olympics – “first-world football stadiums and third-world hospitals, schools, and sewage facilities.”
http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/jeff-garmany/football-politics-and-protest-in-brazil

 

Yemen: A Life on Hold

For those who prefer short videos, the following helps give some sense of the millions of people living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.  This video is about family who has been living for three years in IDP camp in Yemen, noting that many IDPs end up in such camps for 10 or 20 years.  The broader question about the value and perils of such videos must await another newsletter.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFlX0Lz9SFw&feature=youtu.be

April Newsletter

Welcome to the April 29, 2013 edition of this Peace&Justice action email!

This issue provides two actions related to Darfur as well as one related to media distortion and an action concerning life patents and the giant multinational Monsanto.  I have decided to have a separate email for the Mental Health issue, which should be sent in two weeks.

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Pour la traduction française: cliqueter ici; et cliqueter alors le bouton de traduction sur la page Web.
Para la traducción española: clic aquí; y entonces hace clic en el botón de traducción en la página web.

 

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DARFUR: TELL U.S. TO SELECT NEW SUDAN ENVOY

The overall situation in Darfur has not changed significantly.  While a recent Doha Conference resulted in over $3 billion pledged for Darfur reconstruction, it is partly a charade given Sudan itself pledged over $2 billion while bombing Darfur citizens.  Apart from that, little can be done until peace and stability exists, something that is no closer.  On the broader scene the Nuba region of Sudan continues to be bombarded and starved.  And within the last couple of days a new rebel offensive has started in a previously relatively untouched area of Northern Kordofan, and also closer to Khartoum.  For more details see Darfur Current Status (UntilAll).

There are two actions in this newsletter.  The first one calls on the U.S. to fill the position of Special Envoy for Sudan which has been vacant since the end of 2012.  As noted in a background article, some groups are critical of the rumored front runner, on the basis that his policies are likely to resemble too closely perceived past failed policies.  While the eventual solution for Sudan must be a political solution embraced by all of Sudan’s stakeholders, and while some feel U.S. involvement primarily skews results in U.S. favour, the stance of this newsletter is that a Special Envoy under Sudan’s current dynamics is a better option than not having one, at least if the second action below (Sudan Peace and Accountability Act), becomes more clearly some of the guiding principles (this newsletter and the above link have previously outlined some of the complexities and conflicting U.S. priorities).

Tell Obama to Fill Position for Special Envoy to Sudan (open to all):
http://www2.americanprogress.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=250

Background:
Genocide scholars’ questions go unanswered; then Envoy resigns
Front Runner for Envoy Position Criticized

 

 

 

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DARFUR / SUDAN: TELL CONGRESS MEMBER TO SUPPORT SUDAN PEACE ACT

The second Darfur / Sudan action involves U.S. citizens, who can tell their members of Congress to support the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act, introduced with bipartisan support.

Take action (U.S citizens only):
http://www2.americanprogress.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=266

Background:
Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013

 

 

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TELL FOX NEWS HATEFUL MESSAGES MUST BE DEALT WITH

The Boston Marathon bombings were a terrible tragedy.  And while it did bring out wonderful acts of courage and humanity, it also brought out a repulsive act.  Fox News commentator Erik Rush tweeted the words “Yes, they’re evil. Let’s kill them all.” In his tweet, “them” referred to Muslims, and it was tweeted to his nearly 40,000 followers.  If you find this going well beyond the line of any journalist licence, then please consider taking the following action:

Tell FOX News to Drop Erik Rush: (You can edit the message depending on your TV habits):
http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5550/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=13742&tag=foxrushb1

 

 

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TELL E.U. COUNTRIES TO STAND UP TO MONSANTO

One of the disturbing but largely hidden trends being tested over the last few years relates to companies trying to obtain patents, oversimplified, to what are in essence life building blocks, whether genes or seeds.  It is yet another area where ethics and laws are struggling to catch-up to technology, and more importantly to the influence that such large multi-nationals can exert on politics.  In this instance companies like Monsanto have found loopholes in European law to have exclusive rights over conventional seeds (such as everyday vegetables and fruits like cucumber, broccoli and melons).  Such loopholes need to be shut before they set a dangerous global precedent.

The action below is from Avaaz, and is close to reaching 2 million signatures. Such broad implication issues like this one require a giant outcry to help support the needed outcomes.  So please consider signing the petition and try to get it over 2 million:

Tell the EU Patent Organization to Fix Patent Laws:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_vs_mother_earth_loc/?byVEqab&v=23909

 

 

 

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=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
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UN (and US) Approves Arms Trade Treaty; Plus Further on NRA Dialogue

On April 2, the US joined 153 other nations in approving the Global Arms Trade Treaty. That said, for the U.S. to ratify it, it must be passed by its Senate by a super majority.   This is deemed unlikely due to the influence the NRA has on the Senate.  So for US citizens, stay tuned for the rhetoric to heat up again.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/02/us-arms-treaty-un-idUSBRE9310MN20130402

You may recall my attempt in a previous newsletter to try to understand the opposition of the NRA to the Treaty (see: http://untilall.org/uwaa-120.htm).  I did it primarily out of my core principle of dialogue (bumbling as I am at it) – to truly attempt to engage with the stance that seemed so utterly foreign.  And I did find a thin “sliver” of contact – that a person could genuinely connect the dots in a moral way according to all their underlying framings, that would indicate that signing the Treaty was wrong.  It centered around the need to track items.

And before going farther, I would love to continue the personal exploration with anyone via the blog link at the top, unwieldy as blogs are.

But as it currently stands for me, I find that the NRA has shut off dialogue.  It has entered a harmful world of self-righteousness, where its answers and framing are the only true ones, and under no circumstances can it yield even one inch.  Every counter view is a slippery slope, which is part of cascading slippery slopes which always lead to a single family left defenceless in the face of an armed crazed person, or armed tyrannical government or oppressive UN world force.  I find that logic incredulous.  Again I do remain open to mistaken perceptions on my part, but until persuaded otherwise I must be clear the danger and harm I see in the current NRA dynamics.

Somewhat  aside, the following link shows 12 NRA ads over time, showing it going from a government-friendly organization primarily for hunters (actually simply suggesting that belonging to a rifle club is a good way to gain a skill and have fun), to a complete fear-based stance – a fear not only of who lurks in society but to a government and its institutions (FBI, etc.) who you leave open to coming after you if the NRA is not supported, for only it is the true guardian of the Second Amendment.  Now I did find a bit of a sleight of hand going on – for instance from 1920 until now there is a higher proportion of people who lock their doors.  That is, times do change and there is more fear than before at that level.  Plus the rapid changes of today are very loosely linked to a rise in fear.  But neither of those examples fully explains the dramatic shift of the ads.
NRA Ads from 1920 to the present

 

Tunisia: Latest Trend in country that started Arab Spring

Michael Ayari talks to RTCI about the rise of Salafism in the country and the “challenges of the new Tunisia”.
ICG Report: Salafism in Tunisia (YouTube clip)

 

 

 

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=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
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Guatemala Genocide Trial a Landmark . . . And Then Was Scrapped

The trial of former de facto head of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, is a landmark achievement in the fight for justice in Guatemala and is a testament to the courage and tenacity of Guatemala’s victims and human rights groups.
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/03/19/guatemala-genocide-trial-landmark

However, the trial had been in process for a month when on April 18, a separate court annulled the entire case.  Seen as “beyond logic and due process” one can only hope that for the sake of all those who testified and all for whom they represent, as well as for any sense of justice, that a successful appeal will occur.  Here is a short and longer version of the current situation:
Amnesty International article
LA Times more in-depth article

 

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Missed an action email?  An archive is kept at: www.UntilAll.org/archives.htm.