Welcome to the Tuesday, March 30, 2010 issue of this Peace&Justice action email! To alter your profile, follow the steps at the end, where your profile is listed.
In this newsletter we take a more sustained focus on Darfur, given the events taking place in Sudan. As well we examine mother-to-child HIV transmission, Canada and the asbestos industry, and finally the implications of a common ingredient called palm oil.
DARFUR AND JEBEL MARRA – WHY THE SILENCE?
Jebel Marra is a mountainous plateau where one of the main rebel groups – the SLA/AW – has its base. Starting in late February, reports appeared indicating the start of intense fighting (hundreds killed and up to 100,000 civilians displaced). While even now the full dynamics are not clear, it is known the government forces mounted a major campaign against the rebels.
This occurred at the same time that President Bashir stated that all fighting was over, and where US envoy Scott Gration, aware of the fighting, was praising Bashir for progress on peace negotiations with the other strong rebel group, JEM. See my analysis (Darfur Current Status), which in brief suggests that Bashir rightly gambled that the JEM peace deal (precipitated by cutting off JEM’s major backer) and the upcoming national elections both helped silence any international outcry to the major offensive, because no one wanted to jeopardize either initiative. The solution should be to learn from the original Darfur eruption of 2003, and stop focusing only on one of Darfur or the N-S Sudan dynamics, and instead provide sufficient resources to focus on both at the same time and provide a comprehensive solution accompanied with clear signals that dis/incentives will ensue. Since this is tied to the next section, its actions will follow both sections.
DARFUR – WILL SHAM ELECTIONS CEMENT CONTINUED SUFFERING?
As mentioned in last month’s email, this is a decisive year for Darfur and all Sudan. During April 11-13, barring delays, Sudan will be holding national elections. This is the first of two milestones mandated by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended a war between North and South Sudan that had dragged on for 20 years, killing an estimated 2 million people (Darfur, in western Sudan, is a separate conflict that erupted in 2003). Under the terms of the CPA, the second milestone will be the 2011 referendum where the South will decide whether to remain in Sudan or secede (currently, it is almost certain it will secede).
Will the national elections be a crude step that might nonetheless hold and be built upon (DeWaal) or be a façade for continued consolidated power among the Khartoum elite? More and more reports are concluding the latter (ICG report, Rigged Elections, Mar 30/10), on the basis of the legacy to this point, where delays in the census, terribly skewed census results, intimidation during the electoral period and many other factors, have already largely determined the results. Thus while all good chances to make for a more decent Darfur and Sudan have long since disappeared, largely due to a President who only cares about staying in power (as noted in the Jebel Marra section), attempts at political influence remain essential to find and support any openings, and to mitigate any negative consequences (one cannot dismiss possible post-election violence, let alone cementing an abysmal Darfur status quo).
UK-only: Tell your MP to bolster efforts for peaceful events during Sudan’s eventful year:
Canada-only: Call PM Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister Cannon and tell them establish a special envoy to join a coordinated international campaign to pressure Sudan to stop the fighting and to postpone the elections until fairness can be more assured. As well, further talking points can be used from: http://standcanada.org/take-action/1-800-genocide/
U.S.: For all actions below, tell the party to implement the U.S. Sudan policy dis/incentives to pressure Sudan to stop the fighting and to postpone the elections until fairness can be more assured:
US: Tell U.S. Deputies Committee:
U.S.: Call Secretary of State Clinton: 1-800-GENOCIDE.
U.S.: Tell US Ambassador Rice and Vice-President Biden (action is at the bottom of the page – you will need to create an email and copy and paste the contents):
MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION OF HIV
On March 8, 2010 it was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. To mark this, ONE.org created a new website (below) to help address such statistics that an estimated 70% of people living in poverty are female and that every minute a woman dies in childbirth. Their first action is a petition to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, to help end mother-to-child transmission of HIV. While the primary window for the action has passed, they still want to continue building its support via the petition below. Please note that when filling out the web page, the left column is essential; the right column is optional should you want to pass the information to someone else.
CANADA AND CONTINUED EXPORT OF ASBESTOS
An action was created last year to get Canada to stop exporting asbestos. It has been revealed that the federal government actually funds a lobby group to promote its use. As noted last year – see CBC video below - asbestos handling in any fashion leads to irreparable damage to your lungs; if handled for a sufficient duration the result is an excruciating, slow death. Even a worker who brings the fibres home on their clothes will impair the health of their family.
Tell Canada to stop financing and exporting Asbestos (open to all countries, though needs editing)
CBC: Watch appalling health implications:
GREENPEACE, KITKAT, AND PALM OIL
One of the ongoing strands of this newsletter is to highlight the links between North American or Western World consumption and their hidden yet harmful effects (and hopefully a path to their resolution). In this case Greenpeace has traced a simple ingredient – palm oil – to the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia and also to orangutan habitat. You can sign the petition below (please be warned that the video on that page is in the style of “highly in-your-face graphic”).
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