UNTIL ALL ACHIEVE WELL-BEING

Welcome to this edition of the UWAA Peace/Justice action email! Your profile is listed at the end, along with steps to change it.

Firstly, apologies are in order - this is really November's newsletter, greatly delayed due to a convergence of issues needing my attention. It included being part of a group sponsoring a Syrian family who has now arrived (brief reflections below).

The interval since the last newsletter has been terribly disheartening from a human rights standpoint. Even as the previous newsletter was being sent out, I received an Amnesty International report documenting the repugnant use of chemical weapons in Darfur, including the killing and maiming of children. While there had been rumours of chemical weapon use before in Sudan, I find it difficult not to associate this more brazen use, with Obama's empty "red line" regarding Syria and chemical weapons, baffled as I am by such an ill-thought statement. It leaves a terrible unease that the world may be inching towards normalizing this once "forbidden" weapon.

In addition, while this newsletter does not always give much attention to current high profile issues such as Syria (since they are already well-known and actions abound) the recent push to remove the rebels from Aleppo contains terrible war crimes [Human Rights Watch] . In the bigger picture the Syrian humanitarian and refugee crisis continue to have enormous negative impacts on the surrounding area, throughout the EU, and into North America. Extremist right-wing groups are gaining support in many EU countries. Chasms separate people and shrill voices abound.

I have never felt more of a need in this upcoming year to stand firm in the highest principles and values that make humanity fair and just for all. Should upheavals occur there will be a desperate need for fair-minded people to speak and act in ways that remain congruent with such intentions. Thus at the end of this newsletter is a link to a Southern Poverty Law Center piece giving ten points on remaining well-anchored in a divisive world. May this year find us all striving to uphold the best aspirations of humanity!

HELP MAP DARFUR VILLAGES, TRACK IF DESTROYED

There has been credible evidence that countless villages in Darfur have been attacked by the Sudanese government and its allied militias. People have been shot while fleeing, raped, and even targeted with chemical weapons.

Like many authoritarian states, Sudan has built an impenetrable wall, keeping its internal actions secret by refusing all outside access. It becomes almost impossible to verify what is occurring, an essential step if accountability and justice is ever to occur.

While there may be no international will to stop the atrocities, satellite imagery now allows you to be part of ensuring such actions not remain hidden.

Please note the innovative nature of this action! Using your computer or phone, you can identify Darfur's most remote villages, pictured earlier and now, and help identify those that have been destroyed. There is a tutorial to help you identify key markers. It can be done whenever one has some time. So please consider being part of this project. You will not only help build a case for war crimes against the government, but you will be helping establish the viability of this form of technology for future cases.

Help Reveal Atrocities that Sudan Wants Kept Hidden:
https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/decode-darfur

SYRIA: DEMAND SAFE EVACUATION FROM ALEPPO NOW

The crisis in Syria has become yet another horrible blight on our world's inability to respond to massive humanitarian needs and human rights failures. I will never forget the stunning sequence of hospitals that were reportedly destroyed in the final push by Syria's President Assad with heavy Russian backing to oust the rebel forces.

December Note : Due to the tenuous nature of any ceasefire and evacuations, Amnesty has updated this November action to continue to pressure leaders, given the continued vulnerable nature of civilians.

Take Action:
Demand Safe Evacuation {and Protection} in Aleppo [Amnesty International]

Background:
War Crimes Committed {+ Twitter action} [Human Rights Watch]

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=== BRIEF COMMENTARY ===
- - - SYRIA AND REFUGEES - - -
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This is a new section to be used fr­om time to time, given that the focus of this newsletter is primarily action-oriented.

I have had the privilege of being part of a group that has twice before helped sponsor refugee families. This time, while still being actively involved, I felt it time to pass the primary responsibility to the younger generation who, naturally, have responded admirably.

The atmosphere this time surrounding the sponsorship of Syrian refugees is vastly different from the other times. While there are always voices urging immigrations restraint, this time those voices are stronger and more shrill. The overwhelming sense of such voices is fear. I have written elsewhere how there is a grain of truth to such fear but the fear has been deliberately manipulated and distorted. The best stance is to remain open to these dynamics but not to act from a stance of fear but rather from a desire for fairness and well-being of all. As such welcoming Syrian refugees who have been appropriately screened strengthens our global fabric.

Thus we gladly agreed to sponsor a refugee family. We took a four-part strategy. In addition to the commitment and money for the sponsored refugee family, we gave to:

  1. The international agencies responsible for helping the displaced "locally", whether internally within their own country or a neighbouring country. When feasible this is the best option - no one wants to end up halfway around the world, unless that is the only safe, stable option available.

  2. Our own country's sponsorship network. These agencies often have meagre budgets and volunteer teams. Supporting them strengthens the broader immigration resources and fabric.

  3. Our local food bank. We are quite aware of needs within our own country, and feel the best framing is not an "either/or" but "both/and" approach in terms of nudging life on.

Finally, please note that all the above are remedial in nature and should be balanced with preventive measures at all levels as well.

Back to our family. After several months of waiting, we are now two months into this project. We have a wonderful family of six, and while {the necessary} bureaucracy slows things down, the kids have started school and the parents are about to continue learning English. Their home here won't be bombed. They are a bright, loving and very capable family. It has taken many hands and donations, has been hard work for some (and at times exhausting work for our point-person) but it seems clear that our family will integrate quite well into our community.

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=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ACTIONS AND ARTICLES ===
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Malta First EU Country To Ban 'Gay Cure' Conversion Therapy

Having raised up and tracked the concern surrounding such misguided therapy, it is heartening to see a country-wide adoption of the ban on this therapy. That said, it means that there are over 190 other countries still to enact such a ban.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38230937

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=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
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Landmark Deal To Phase Out Refrigerant (HFCs)

In 19887 the Montreal Protocol banned refrigerants called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which destroy the ozone layer. They were replaced with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs do not destroy the ozone layer but have a 1000 time effect in trapping heat. Thus on Oct 15 in Kigali, Rwanda, an agreement was achieved to phase out the newer, destructive HFCs..

Countries Reach Agreement to Ban HFCs [NYT]

*** The Southern Poverty Law Center - Community Response Guide ***

Here is the SPLC's list of ten steps that everyone can do to help in divisive or hateful times. The list is easy reading and includes many positive anecdotes that accumulated over their decades of experience dealing with hate and racism.

  1. Act (Do something; be proactive);
  2. Unite (Call a friend; create a coalition);
  3. Support the Victims (They can feel vulnerable and alone);
  4. Do Your Homework (Don't be unthinking);
  5. Create an Alternative (Take the high road);
  6. Speak Up (Silence takes the wrong side);
  7. Lobby Leaders (Broaden support);
  8. Look Long Range (Be Preventive);
  9. Teach Tolerance (Bias is learned early);
  10. Dig Deeper (Keep looking inside oneself);

SPLC Community Response, Ten Steps

 

 

 


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