Welcome to the May 24, 2009 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we start with an action needing immediate attention (deadline is midnight May 25, although as long as the action remains open, take it), dealing with the current trial of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi. If convicted of this rather bizarre situation she could face harsh prison conditions, with her health already precarious.
Also included is further action regarding Darfur, a video contest related to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo), and an action to protect South American land from woefully inadequate standards for soy production for animal feed.
______________________________________________________BURMA IMPRISONS AUNG SAN SUU KYI
The generals who rule Myanmar (Burma) have held Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, in detention on trumped-up charges for 13 years, following her landslide victory in the 1990 election. It is generally believed that if she were free to run in the 2010 elections, she would likely again win a landslide, and that is why the generals have not only kept her detained, but recently have moved her to a prison, despite recent poor health, where conditions are worse. It should be noted that two female companions were also imprisoned, and that the whereabouts of her doctor is unknown.
To be clear, the generals have done whatever is needed to maintain their grip on power. These emails are unlikely to change that, although after substantial pressure, they did release a lower level prisoner of conscience (Ma Khin Khin Leh). But this is another situation where one cannot know where a tipping point may occur or what may contribute to it; plus in light of the generals' intransigence, silence from the world community would diminish our global fabric.
Below are two actions calling for her release - please note that while both need urgent attention, the first one must be done immediately - the deadline is before May 26.
Email UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon (Deadline: before May 26):
Email Burmese General Than Shwe:
Email the Head of the Military
______________________________________________________DARFUR - CONTINUE THE PRESSURE
Last month I gave a rather gloomy picture of the status in Darfur. Things have not improved, and in the last week rebels have taken control of two army bases near the Chad border (the 2nd base was just hours ago). Overarching that has been the highly raised tension between Sudan and Chad. And in the broader context of a stable Sudan, the South has rejected the national census, citing a skewed nature to it that favours the North. Because the census results will decide the proportion of seats in next year's national elections, as well as being the major factor in deciding oil revenue sharing, this is an ominous sign for Sudan's future stability.
On the positive side, the U.S. Special Envoy has been actively working behind the scenes and is about to visit such key players as China, Qatar, and France. The first email below addresses all these aspects of the current dynamics. It clarifies the type of broad political solution that includes all key players that are needed, along with a clearly identified carrot-and-stick approach that is called for as dynamics keep moving toward the brink. A second action involves sending emails to, or calling, your elected governments (US, Canada, U.K, Australia) and includes the talking points.
In addition is a third action, symbolic in nature. The idea is to globally continue a fast, to show the victims of the Darfur crisis that they are not forgotten. As some people go off their fast, others join in, and it keeps going until the crisis is resolved. While many give a certain specific period, you might also consider something like "every Tuesday" or "every 2nd Sunday" or "every day nn of the month" until the crisis is resolved.
Before ending I wish to indicate that while my website article addresses many issues that surround Darfur (www.UntilAll.org/Darfur.htm), I am hoping to clarify some of the more recent critiques of the strategies cited by advocacy groups. It is briefly mentioned in my web article but needs substantial updating - if interested check back in two weeks. I will also give the link in the next email.
Email U.S. President Obama (open to all countries):
Urge Your Government To Resolve Darfur:
Join the Global Fast (open to everyone):
______________________________________________________CONGO & VIDEO CONTEST
Having recently highlighted the project to raise awareness of the conflict minerals in the Congo, there is now a video contest to highlight this issue. So get your creative juices flowing and make a submission, details below!
I wanted to indicate the complex situation of creating a "conflict-free electronics" project, a quantum level tougher then with Sierra Leone's Blood Diamonds or South Africa's apartheid-era diamond issue . . . but the urgency to get this email out, will delay this until the next email.
Submission Information (Deadline July 1, 2009):
______________________________________________________STOP THE SOY GREENWASHING
Friends of the Earth (FOE) have created a campaign that highlights the problems of growing soybeans in South America for use as animal feed. These problems, known for years, include the destruction of forests and savannahs, pollution caused by pesticides, health impacts and human rights violations.
In 2004 the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) was created to address these issues. They recently came out with recommendations that are seen by FOE as woefully inadequate, hence the label of 'greenwashing' the issue. Thus FOE Netherlands has created the following action, which targets Ahold in Europe. Ahold is a member of RTRS and also sells meat fed by the above soy products. As such they could be quite influential in revising the standards. [The issue of simply eating less meat and more soy and other alternatives will have to wait for another time].
Call for stronger standards for South American soy feed for animals:
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.
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