Welcome to this edition of the Peace/Justice — Human Rights action edition!
I am just getting back after a leave-of-absence, so this newsletter will be brief. Hopefully the subsequent newsletter can finish the topic of populism, something I have been speaking and writing about during my absence.
DARFUR: COULD CURRENT PROTESTS BECOME THE TIPPING POINT?
Starting in mid-December, Sudan imposed price increases which resulted in nonviolent protests (UntiAll). Unlike the “Arab Spring”-like protests in 2012-2013, these have been broader, more leaderless and have now lasted four months, despite Bashir’s attempts to violently suppress them. He has now declared a state of emergency and replaced all federal and governors with military people. Yet the protests continue. While it is possible that, as has happened before in Sudanese history, such protests could become the tipping point for regime change, the best chance – military defections – has not happened yet in significant numbers. President Bashir has had years to purge out and also use corruption to keep both the military and the equally important NISS (secret service network) on his side.
The other factor that could help nudge things is the international community. But the U.K is consumed with Brexit, and the broader EU still values its agreement with Sudan to have them reduce the migration into the EU. Finally, the U.S., starting with the end of the Obama years, disappointingly swerved more into normalization incentives which has not been altered by the Trump Administration, even given this significant violent suppression of the people’s nonviolent uprising.
Nonetheless for those wishing to support the desire for freedom, dignity and an end to tyranny manifested by these protests, or wishing to let your elected officials know you want them to support the Sudanese people, you can copy and edit the letter template at the end of this newsletter, and send it to your representatives, either via email or regular mail. The template comes from the Darfur Women Action Group.
Find your Representative contact info. below, then copy, paste and edit the Letter Template at the end of this newsletter, and send it off.
Lookup your Representative:
Source of Letter: http://www.darfurwomenaction.org/stand-with-sudan/
FOLLOW-UP: CLIMATE CHANGE: JARRING CHANGE IN FORECAST
Last October, the IPCC (the UN body that assesses and provides scientific information on climate change) drastically revised its forecasts to keep climate change under control. Their new forecast is that humanity must keep temperature increases within 1.5° Celsius by 2030, an alarmingly tighter timeline than its previous 2° Celsius by 2050.
Firstly, this raises our concern that we are well beyond the stage of addressing climate change via incremental change.
Secondly, due to such phenomena as the likelihood of non-uniform “trigger” events (such as the single degree difference between ice and water), the IPCC revised timeline gives a heightened sense of urgency, since any such tipping points would have a hard-to-reverse cascading negative impact.
Finally, the topic of climate change is an immensely complex issue, currently with few absolute certainties, and making it difficult to fully grasp the probability of various scenarios. Nonetheless, if this issue is not properly resolved, the scope of climate change could, worst case, potentially have a catastrophic impact on life on the earth, especially for the most vulnerable. Thus this newsletter suggests the need to abide by the Precautionary Principle, doing all we can to minimize its risks.
This sense of renewed crisis has mobilized many people, particularly the youth. In the U.S. it resulted in the Sunrise movement. In the U.K it resulted in a group called The Extinction Rebellion, whose basic tenet is “to tell the truth”, feeling that even the IPCC resulting statements end up watered down for political reasons.
To me this is best viewed not as an environmental issue but as a cross-cutting issue that also includes Human Rights, and Peace / Justice issues.
FOLLOW-UP: TOXIC RECEIPTS
I have to be honest – when I originally saw this action (now 6 months ago, you may not remember), part of me wanted immediately to dismiss it. Given all the massive issues – whether entire countries in turmoil: Syria, Iraq, Brazil; or global threats such as climate change, etc.; . . . a few pieces of paper seemed so insignificant in comparison. Yet the other part of me recognized the danger of playing issues off each other and the either-or mentality that it wrongly evokes.
As well, part of the point is that as opposed to feeling helpless, almost anywhere one turns one CAN make a difference:
1. These receipts are toxic (containing BPA or BPS, chemicals linked to brain & heart problems and hormone disruptions). While I don’t want to handle that, think of how many a cashier handles every day!
2. In the US they take 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons to produce, and create over 600 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of CO2.
There are times receipts are necessary (thus we should advocate for change) but even without expending that energy to change things, I find that right now I will never need most receipts and refuse them whenever possible.
Playing catch-up after six months, I feel somewhat aghast that the newsletter is unable to address, such issues as, among many others:
1. Up to one million Muslim Uighurs in China’s secretive “re-education” camps;
2. The atrocities of Yemen;
3. The chaotic times in Argentina & to some extent, Brazil;
THE VALUE OF JOURNALISM
I ran across this cartoon, which nailed it for me, haunting these days in the big picture. On the first panel there was a person holding a sign that said: “First they came for the reporters.” In the next panel, the sign says: “We don’t know what happened after that.”
I guess – unintentionally at the time – this is another hint to “stay tuned” for the next newsletter which will continue with the issue of global populism.
========= DARFUR LETTER TEMPLATE ==========
[ Your Name & Address & Email]
The Honorable [Name of Elected Representative]
[Address of Elected Representative’s Office]
Dear [Representative or Senator xxxxx],
I am writing to express my grave concern about the violence against peaceful protesters in Sudan. For years, many members of the U.S. Congress spoke out against the genocide in Darfur and called for justice against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Now that the people are on the verge of real change and need the support of the world community, too many are silent. We need you to stand with the people of Sudan.
In 1989, al-Bashir came to power by coup and initiated dictatorial rule and political Islam to control and oppress the Sudanese people. In its 29 years in power, the government has continued its effort to destroy the people of Sudan.
- Since 2002, the government has orchestrated a scorched-earth policy against the indigenous people of Darfur, resulting in genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
- In 2004, the Bush Administration declared the situation a genocide. Since then, millions of Darfuris have been forced to flee their homes. Over 400,000 have been killed, and, as of today, over 3 million people have been displaced. Fifteen years later, Darfuris are still subjected to brutal attacks and deprived access to humanitarian assistance. Rape has been used as weapon of war, and arrests and torture have devastated, and continue to devastate, the lives of innocent civilians in Darfur.
- In 2009, President al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes in Darfur. He has yet to face justice. President al-Bashir’s regime has reportedly used chemical weapons against the people of Darfur as recently as September 2016.
- The government has also attacked South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, displacing nearly a million people.
- In the midst of this violent crises, approximately 10 million people who worked as producers, such as farmers and herders, have been displaced. Most Darfuris as well as the people of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states have had to flee and have become refugees without any ability to grow food or work. Since the farmers and herders have been displaced, the remaining Sudanese population has been forced to become urban consumers. Furthermore, members of the Sudanese government, rife with corruption, have been using the country’s resources for their own self-enrichment. The military’s budget has been increased and is used to buy weapons for the murder of civilians. As a result, Sudan’s economy has collapsed, while the human rights situation is rapidly deteriorating. The Sudanese people are experiencing historical hardship, including severe lack of food, commodities, fuel, and other materials necessary for survival. Subsequently, the Sudanese have taken to the streets to demand a change in government. In response to peaceful protests against these injustices, al-Bashir’s regime has used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters (including children), as well as killing and abducting students.
The protesters’ demands are legitimate and just. We, therefore, urge you to stand with the people of Sudan. Please publicly condemn these attacks on protesters and demand that the Sudanese government stop this violence against its own citizens. Given the history of crimes against humanity by Omar al-Bashir and his administration, we call upon the United States government to press him to respect and adhere to the aspirations and needs of the Sudanese people which are as follows:
- Al-Bashir must peacefully step down and surrender power to a multi-party government
- Creation of a technocratic, multi-party interim government to lead the country for 4-5 years
- The peaceful resolution by the interim government of the long-standing crisis in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and the granting of voluntary return of refugees to their lands of origin
- Improvement of human rights and economic conditions across Sudan
- Compensation for lost property and personal losses
- Creation of a Sudanese constitution, agreed upon by all Sudanese people, that will guarantee basic freedoms and a dignified life for all
- Open and improved regional and international relations with mutual interest
- Institutional reform and infrastructure development
- Implementation of a fair and free internationally monitored election at the end of the interim period.
- We greatly appreciate your commitment to human rights at home and internationally. Your leadership and voice are needed to save lives in Sudan and particularly in Darfur. We thank you for your consideration.
In partnership with Darfur Women Action Group
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