Welcome to the Saturday January 31, 2009 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we continue from last month to grapple with some of the most entrenched patterns: the Gaza crisis, and also the situations in Darfur and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As well, we highlight a harmful and disgustingly ignored environmental issue in Nigeria. But on occasion it is worth starting with a thank-you when something good occurs, and that's where we'll begin.
______________________________________________________THANK PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR STANCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Upon taking office, one of the first steps of U.S. President Obama was to sign orders that are seen by many people as a shift in the Administration's position on Human Rights. Specifically the orders dealt with the closing of the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay within a year, establishing new rules on interrogation methods and new guidelines for the treatment of detainees.
While these emails are not interested in playing into U.S. partisan politics, they are deeply concerned about strengthening global dynamics that will enhance the basic regard for people and our interactions. As such, and within the constraints of the finite limitations of anyone's perspective, they will support or criticize any country's efforts accordingly.
Thus if you agree as I do, that these initial signals by President Obama are an encouraging move toward stronger basic human dynamics, then you can follow the link below, created by Human Rights First, to acknowledge your support for these actions. Please note that the email (which can be edited) also continues the trajectory and calls for rejection of a national security court system and that any such prospective prisoners be tried in existing federal courts.
Send a Thank-You; and Support for Trajectory:
______________________________________________________THE GAZA CRISIS - CALL FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
With a very fragile ceasefire in place (I just heard reports of a rocket being fired from Gaza), groups such as Amnesty International have been allowed access into Gaza. They are calling for an impartial international investigation into offenses to civilians by all parties of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, and are urging countries such as the US to support this measure.
Send Email Calling for Accountability (open to all countries):
Send to US Secretary of State, and UN Ambassador
Non U.S. countries: As well as the above action you can send a revised email to your own government. Copy and paste the above email contents into a new email, edit as needed, and send to your Foreign Minister. Salutation is usually "Dear Minister:" Here are a few:
Canada: Lawrence Cannon, Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca
Australia: Stephen Smith, Stephen.Smith.MP@aph.gov.au
Britain: David Miliband email@example.com
______________________________________________________DARFUR AND CONGO PRIORITIES FOR U.S CONGRESS
In the last email there was an action to send a priority list to President-Elect Obama to help resolve the volatile areas of Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now that he is the U.S. President, you can take the next step, which is a follow-up email to Congress.
Email U.S. Congress (Open to all countries):
Again, for other countries you can also create an email to your Foreign Minister, using the link's email content.
Background and Rationale::
Why the focus on Darfur and the Congo? For those new to this email list, Darfur is a focus, first of all for its own sake - to help end the atrocities. But it has also remained a focus: (a) to help us see how an atrocity, that some have named a genocide, is helped and hindered by various factors; and (b) specifically because it had the linkage to the "Responsibility to Protect" Doctrine and now the International Criminal Court involvement, which if it can be successfully resolved, strengthens such global structures and patterns. As for the Congo, in which 4 to 5 million people have died over the past 10 years, it also is being done for its own sake, and because there are now better web-based actions for them. For those interested, fuller background links are below.
[Editor's note: I should note recent Congolese events. In the actual web email content, it mentions Laurent Nkunda. Broadly speaking he is part of the Rwandan genocide legacy, in which Hutus massacred Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994. Many Hutus fled to the Congo. Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi rebel group leader whose soldiers routed government forces and captured parts of eastern Congo last year. He was arrested just this past week by Rwandan forces. That said, the whole area remains highly volatile.
And separately, in the last couple of days it has been reported that Okot Odhiambo, second-in-command of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has announced his defection. Broadly speaking it was the LRA that committed horrific crimes in Uganda, and used child solider in appalling numbers. They also flowed in eastern Congo. All of this is to indicate how messy and gruesome has been Congo's recent history].
BBC background on Nkunda Arrest
Guardian report on Odhiambo defection
Basic Congo background
______________________________________________________DARFUR RESOURCE FOR RELIGIOUS GROUPS
In an effort to broaden the support base for resolving the Darfur crisis, the Enough Project has created a new eight session study course geared for Christian groups, backed by such people as Jim Wallis of Sojourners. This is in addition to existing information packets for Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups created by the Save Darfur Coalition.
Eight-session Christian Course:
Resources for Christian, Jewish and Muslim Groups:
______________________________________________________NIGERIA AND HARMFUL GAS-FLARING
Because gas is often found mixed with crude oil, the gas is sometimes burned or flared, since it is the cheapest method. However it is the most harmful, resulting in noxious gases and producing acid rain, and affecting the health of local communities, as well as contributing to greenhouses gases. Gas flaring has been illegal in Nigeria since 1984, but the oil companies thus far have side-stepped any repercussions (the best solution, especially in such a conflictual area, would be to capture the gas, which could then be used for the local community). The international group, Friends of the Earth, has produced the following email to try to bring worldwide pressure to stop this illegal practice.
Tell Nigerian President to End Gas-Flaring
Information on Nigerian oil, Gas-flaring Issues and Legal Rulings
______________________________________________________OF INTEREST: CO2 USAGE MAP
There is no action associated with this section. It is simply given to show the innovative ways the internet is being used, in this case to show on a world map, carbon dioxide usage by country. If you want to try it, be sure to make both selections in the upper right corner.
World by Country:
US by County (perhaps a refinement is in order??):
UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of "Until Well-being is Achieved for All."
Volunteers Needed: If you can provide one hour per week or month, tracking down concrete actions to help strengthen this effort, please click the UWAA Reply button below, and add a Subject Line: “UWAA: Edit” and place any comments in the body. Diverse perspectives especially welcome.
Want to get these actions sent directly to your email address? If so, then click the UWAA Subscribe button below, add a Subject Line: “UWAA: Subscribe”; You can also optionally place any additional comments in the body.