Welcome to the Sunday, January 30, 2011 issue of this Peace&Justice action email! To alter your profile, follow the steps at the end, where your profile is listed.
What an astounding month since the last newsletter! While it is too early to be sure what will take root and what will be uprooted in Tunisia or Egypt or elsewhere, it is humbling to watch people face down the oppressive system that has both intimidated and brutalized the people! By now the dynamics have been well-analyzed – this newsletter will simply focus on action, and has been delayed for a couple of days to see if actions would emerge from the dynamics in Egypt, as well as the rapidly changing landscape in Sudan. We start with them below.
As well this month, flooding from Brazil to Sri Lanka to South Africa added a completely different layer of concern around the world. The Australian floods (with a new cyclone about to hit Queensland) in particular reveal not only the devastating power of Nature for the local people but also the global implications, discussed further below. They all also reinforce how quickly the spotlight is put on a disaster and how quickly it is removed, though as was with Haiti, it can return on anniversaries. That final point is to reinforce the need both to respond to crises as they occur but also to clarify the need for vision and move toward its implementation of the global dynamics and structures that address root causes and get us out of such perpetual cycles.
Finally there are also a couple of the usual actions, in this case dealing with women prisoners in Afghanistan, and an appalling dynamic in South Africa.
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TUNISIA, EGYPT, WHAT NEXT?
Tipping points are classically unpredictable. Who would have thought that last month’s death of Tunisian Muhammad Bouazizi, educated but unemployed, who set himself on fire in December, would become the galvanizing point for an entire layer of disaffected people in several countries? So here we are with Egypt now teetering (and not implying that Tunisian’s goal has been fully achieved; and with ripples hitting Jordan).
There are two actions below. But first I want to clarify the context. One of the Egyptian protesters said that this is their struggle, they will determine their future and they don’t want outside interference. Now as is clear in the second action, below, that is separate from saying that, yes, they would appreciate support for their objectives from the international community. And that is what the following two actions provide. Secondly, the protestors know their own history. In 1954 a very similar populist uprising took place, and when it got to about this point, they reached some agreements and left the streets. The agreements were eventually usurped. They are intent on not making the same mistake, and thus on not leaving the streets until the power structure has changed (and thus the second action below). They are also generally well aware of the precarious and complex nature of the path they are on [editorial leeway: my gut tells me if Mubarak doesn’t follow a near perfect script of leaving within a few days while also putting in place an acceptable transitional dynamic, that things will drop to much more painful dynamics].
The first action, from Avaaz, is the most general in that it does not explicitly demand that Egypt’s President Mubarak step down. It echoes most governments’ public stance, not wanting to rush things too quickly for fear of a power vacuum that may get filled by someone deemed unsavory. Yet, implicitly the stance seems to say that Mubarak must eventually go, as otherwise true democratic reform would be impossible.
The second action comes straight from the organizers of the protests, who are the “multi-faceted people of Egypt.” Their petition includes the demand of Mubarak to step down [Feb 2. update: they mean within the next few days; not, as Mubarak has just stated, in Sept.] and also to release all political prisoners. You can choose one or both actions.
General petition of Support:
Specific Petition from the
Egyptian people, the “January 25 Movement”:
Finally, if you feel strongly about
helping overcome the technology blackout, a fund has been set up to provide for
satellite phones, etc.:
DARFUR AND SUDAN UPDATE
There is not an explicit action to take at this moment. That said, I found it valuable to pause and try to appreciate the joy-of-the-moment for South Sudan, given that unofficially over 99% of South Sudan voted for secession. There has been such death, pain, loss, and hardship for them in the two 20 year wars since before Sudan became a nation (with a legacy dating back farther). Given that the North never made unity attractive, secession was the next best dream. And while there are many obstacles that may derail the dream (see the Current Status section of www.UntilAll.org/darfur.htm for a list of milestones for the South, North and including Darfur), this is a moment to be savoured by the South Sudanese.
North-South Border: First Satellite Images of Sudan Troop Buildup
With the voting complete, the satellite image project mentioned last month has started scanning sensitive areas for troop build-ups. You can follow the link below to see the build-up that has occurred recently, though to be clear, there are no indicators of imminent troop movement.
North Sudan is worried about the possible ripples effects from Tunisia. And with good reason. It suffers high youth unemployment and has seen a recent spike in basic food items, similar to many other vulnerable countries. There was also a person who burned himself in protest. And students have been networking to form protests. The latest one was on January 30th, where hundreds of students protested. It was quelled by riot police, who killed on student. Previously a prominent political leader – Al Turabi – was arrested. So there is little question of Sudan suffering from unrest, although it is less clear that it will become large scale, since Bashir has deeper control of the levels of security and the international community doesn’t want the North-South process interrupted.
All last year President Bashir took significant strides to weaken the various rebel groups, especially as the focus shifted to the South, resulting in at least a couple hundred thousand civilians fleeing their homes. At the same time he left the aid camps at deplorable levels of assistance. And while there was a flurry of activity over the Doha peace talks, there has been little to show for it. The next critical phase will be the next few months as the focus remains on the North-South and all the hot-button unresolved issues. It will be crucial to also remain focused on Darfur because Bashir will take advantage of any opportunity to consolidate his grip on Darfur.
AFGHANISTAN: DEMAND LEGAL RIGHT BE UPHELD FOR WOMEN PRISONERS
In 2009, the Afghan Congress
ratified the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act (EVAW), which
criminalized the traditions of forced marriage, enslavement and abuse of women.
Unfortunately, Afghan women are still being put in prison for resisting these
According to the U.S. State Department, seventy-five percent of the Afghan women in prison are condemned for cultural practices that should be protected from punishment by EVAW. Thus the following action calls on Presidents Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai to ensure that the legal rights of Afghan women.
STOP ‘CORRECTIVE RAPE’
One of the appalling acts taking
place in South Africa and elsewhere is something being called ‘corrective
rape.’ It is the rape of a lesbian, by a male under the guise of trying to
‘cure’ them. It is a repugnant act and no one in South Africa has ever been convicted
of it. That includes such an act against Millicent Gaika, who was bound,
beaten, strangled, tortured and repeatedly raped for five hours by a man who told
her that he was ‘curing’ her of her lesbianism. She survived, but barely.
Amazingly, from a tiny Cape Town safehouse a few brave activists are risking their lives to ensure that Millicent’s case sparks change. Their appeal to the Minister of Justice has exploded to over 140,000 signatures, forcing him to commit on national television to meeting with them. You can sign the petition, which will help show how large the international spotlight has become on this abhorrent matter.
KEEP PRESSURE UP ON COSTCO
Last August’s newsletter
contained an action for North American consumers to try to get a large
wholesaler – Costco – to stop selling some of the most endangered ocean fish.
Since then, Costco has started to make real progress toward the goal of helping
the giant retailer transform into a true industry leader regarding sustainable
seafood. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the company is
still doing more to protect its image than it is our oceans.
Tell the CEO of Costco, Mr.
James Sinegal, that while appreciating his initial steps, the company must stop
selling key red-list species, such as orange roughy or Chilean sea bass and
become a true industry leader in sustainable seafood.
Email CEO of Costco
=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
Food: Is There a Crisis?
The recent spike in prices has been a factor in the protests in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere (combined primarily by high unemployment rates, corruption and repression). Given the devastating conditions in Russia last year, and now the Australian floods, many basic food staples have or will be affected. The following article considers some of the causes and effects of food prices around the world:
Looking at African Food Self-Sufficiency
Global Weather Patterns: La Niña
The following brief report surveys some of the data and patterns and effects on countries of the type of weather that occurred this year, a pattern often called La Niña.
Human Security in Practice (Mary Kaldor)
For those interested in some of the most recent work in the area of global violence prevention, the following is a series of article based on the recently released book by Mary Kaldor: The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace.
Series on Human Security in Practice
Unconventional History of Human Rights
If you are looking for an alternative view on the origins of human rights (often 1776, 1789, or the 1940s), then the following essay may interest you. The basic thesis is that human rights more correctly dates from the 1970s on the basis that the previous dates kept such rights within the nation-state. It is a minority view but a stimulating one.
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UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of “Until Well-being is Achieved for All.”
rdowning94 [AT] shaw.ca
Surrey BC Canada
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