Welcome to the Tuesday February 19, 2008 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we highlight two concerns. The first is a remarkable opportunity to help support in a small way efforts in the volatile Middle East. The second set of actions concern Darfur as it enters its most critical phase thus far.
______________________________________________________BUY TODAY - SWEATSHOP-FREE, JOINT ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN T-SHIIRTS
This action needs immediate attention!
What a convergence of values!! -- a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative that makes T-shirts in Palestine (Bethlehem), thereby both elevating the desperate Palestinian work situation and raising a beacon of hope that such seemingly irreconcilable sides can work together. And the T-shirts are not only sweatshop-free but are also made from organic cotton! You can check the web-site for their wide-ranging and uplifting designs (cost: $18 plus shipping; free shipping if 6 or more, so you might consider pooling your purchase with someone).
But it will fall apart if they don't receive enough orders in the next couple of weeks. The initiative comes through NoSweat, a US-based company that has done great work for a few years and has a wide range of other items - this was their first attempt at bridging that troubled Middle East divide. But this initiative found itself with its shipment unduly stuck in US customs prior to Christmas - the critical period for any retail company.
I have bought items from NoSweat for the past three years and have never had any problems. I consider this to be an anomaly that was beyond their control . . . but it will force them to shut down if they can't sell enough to pay for this initiative. I must add that I am in no way connected to this effort - I simply think it is worthy of support.
So if you would like to see this effort continue, consider who among your family, friends and neighbours would enjoy not simply a T-shirt but one loaded with the values that "buying" should be about. This is likely the only time I would say that it isn't too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping!
But do it this week or a beacon of hope may be extinguished.
Overview: Short YouTube video:
To Buy T-shirts (look for Bethlehem, West Bank label):
Buy T-shirts from NoSweat
While a series of "best chances" at resolving the Darfur crisis have come and gone unfulfilled over several years, we are now entering a critical end-point for one aspect - peacekeeping efforts, which will be hopefully bolstered by diplomatic efforts and mediation. The UN hybrid force has commenced, obstructed at each step by Sudan's President Bashir. Thus pressure on all fronts is essential to keep it from failing. Actions are below.
But first I wanted to give you a glimmer of hope - simply by switching from the African Union green berets to the UN blue ones a positive effect has already been noted in the refugee camps (in no small part because the UN hybrid force has a Chapter VII mandate, which means they are armed, whereas the AU force could only monitor conditions):
Read Reuter's article
______________________________________________________ACTION: DARFUR & CHINA
Firstly, as noted by Steven Spielberg's recent resignation as artistic director for China's opening and closing ceremonies for its 2008 Olympics, pressure is significantly mounting on China to exert its substantial influence to get Sudan to stop its obstructionist tactics and justly resolve the Darfur crisis. China's official response has been to list the efforts it has done (they have had a positive though not overwhelming effect) and on the other hand to reiterate their policy of non-interference. But its strong economic ties as well as arms shipments make clear that it could exert incredibly greater pressure if it so chose. Thus the following action is aimed at trying to get China beyond the stance of "just doing enough" to one of full engagement to end the atrocities.
Tell China to Act:
Send Email to Chinese Government
______________________________________________________ACTION: DARFUR & INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Secondly, as noted last month, the simple request for 24 helicopters for the UN peacekeeping force for Darfur has revealed the weak resolve within the whole international UN community. Ethiopia has now offered five helicopters, and Bangladesh has also made an offer, although none of this is on paper yet. Sudan's President Bashir has only changed course when he feels a threat is credible. We ARE the international community and thus must press our leaders to come up with the needed equipment to transport peacekeepers whenever trouble is brewing. Without this, President Bashir will feel emboldened to continue atrocities as usual.
Call for Essential Helicopters (has links to background articles):
Anyone can take the above action, aimed at US President Bush, but I have also sketched an alternative for Canadians, which can be adjusted for any other country.
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Canadian (or other country) action: Copy and paste the following into an email, find the address for your leader and Foreign Affairs Minister and send the email to them:
Canadian PM: Email Prime Minister
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister: Email F.A. Minister
--- Sample Canadian content ---
Subject: Support Darfur Crisis in this Critical Phase
Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Dear Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier:
I ask you to do everything in your power to help resolve the Darfur crisis at this critical juncture. Specifically I ask you to:
Finally I request that you continue Canada's good effort at humanitarian aid.
Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to your response.
[name, address and date]
UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of "Until Well-being is Achieved for All."
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