Welcome to the July 31, 2013, issue of this Peace&Justice action email.
This issue is a brief summer version of the newsletter, much more sparse than usual due to time constraints. The most glaring omission, in terms of big news stories, is Egypt; there are always plenty of little-known conflicts that get missed. Please accept my apologies.
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TUNISIA: FREE WOMAN UPHOLDING WOMEN’S EQUALITY
Tunisia was the start of the “Arab Spring.” Recently, an 18 year old woman was alarmed by a Salafist (conservative Islamic) group who were opposing the equality of women. She wrote a single word (“Femen”, the name of an international women’s movement) on a wall surrounding a cemetery, for which she has been jailed. The charges and possible lengthy sentences are considered politically motivated and are deemed an infringement her right to freedom of expression.
Tell Tunisia to release Activist:
TURKEY: STOP EXCESSIVE FORCE AGAINST PEACFUL PROTESTORS
As with many of the recent popular protests, the one in Turkey started with a dispute over the use of a park, in this case Gezi Park, in Istanbul, Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan dug in his heels and has tried to quell the protests with violence, rather than listening to the demands. Of course behind the park issue, are complex dynamics, including a long-simmering distrust of the conservative leanings of the Prime Minister.
Tell Turkey to Stop Using excessive Force:
SYRIA: STOP EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS OF CIVILIANS
If you use Twitter or Facebook, you may want to mobilize your social media skills to spread this report about stopping extra-juridical killings in Syria. Basically, as has been part of the brutal campaign, some areas are being targeted to terrorize the civilian population as a means of reducing support for the rebels, as documented in the following Amnesty briefing:
Take Social Media Action:
=== FOLLOW-UP TO PREVIOUS ISSUES ===
Darfur: Sill Mired in Problems
Darfur is our longitudinal study. There is no action for this month, but you can see a sketch of the latest events at www.UntilAll.org/darfur.htm.
Guatemala Genocide Trial a Landmark . . . Then Scrapped . . . Then Conviction . . . Then Overturned
The last newsletter indicated that the landmark trial had been derailed by a separate court ruling but was holding out hope for an appeal. So it is both a relief and a triumph of justice and vindication of those who testified that Efraín Ríos Montt, former leader of Guatemala, has been found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity:
However that relief was short-lived sine the verdict was then overturned [The Guardian (May 21)] . . . though as of June 4, in yet another twist, the Guatemalan Supreme Court rejected a motion to quash proceedings, and has set a new trial date of April 2014.
Bees: Good News, Bad News:
A previous action called for the ban of a certain pesticide in the European Union. The good news is that it has been banned, so thank you for all who took action. As has been reviewed previously, such web actions seldom bring change on the own, but can help provide crucial support and backing as part of an overall strategy to bring change. The following link provides a window into the pieces that were involved to getting the ban passed:
But in the U.S., the EPA just allowed a different but also toxic pesticide, sulfoxaflor, to be used on several crops, even while acknowledging it is highly toxic to honey bees. It added an advisory for honey bees, but one which sounds quite unworkable, such as having to notify beekeepers before and after usage, advising them to keep their bees in the hive, etc. This is not a precautionary approach to protecting such a vital link in the food chain:
Finally – recently in – researchers have discovered that the application of fungicides may be behind some of the rapid decline in bees. Thus it is looking like a more complicated cocktail of interactions:
Burma & the Rohingya: Violent Buddhists, a silent Aung San Suu Kyi, and maybe an Al-Qaeda link?
Burma was noted in an earlier newsletter for its surprising, puzzling (and world-hesitant to acknowledge) overtures to open up its previously iron-clad country. Recently there have been several articles highlighting the recent problems with two minority groups. There is a long history behind it all, and on its face one sees the contradictions of, for example, supposedly nonviolent Buddhists being extremely violent (although other Buddhists did come to protect the victims), the world acclaimed human rights defender Aung San Suu Kyi being silent about the repugnant human rights violations, and even a possible Al-Qaeda thread in among there. Again deeper analysis is needed, but the following are just a couple of articles trying to sketch the terrain.
TIME Magazine article
Toronto Star article
DRC: Searching For An Internal Solution For The Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been enmeshed in one of the world’s longest and deadliest conflicts (most often given as over 5 million deaths as a result of the conflict), stunningly for the most part off the mainstream news radar. This newsletter has highlighted some of the initiatives that have been made. Here is another analysis
Towards internal solutions to the DRC crisis [IRIN]
=== ARTICLES OF INTEREST ===
Given the above actions on popular protests, and while there are many more than simply Brazil, there is an essay on openDemocracy that gives an interesting sketch of the basic issues and challenges facing the country and protestors. Sparked initialling by student demand for better transportation given a hike in rates, the protest has spread, becoming neither anti-Brazil nor anti-football, but very broadly a call to implement a higher vision for Brazil. It covers many areas and includes the broad dissatisfaction found within a rising country that now has a sufficiently large middle-class. They have joined the protest over government policies that have led to hosting the Confederation Cup then the FIFA Cup then the Olympics – “first-world football stadiums and third-world hospitals, schools, and sewage facilities.”
Yemen: A Life on Hold
For those who prefer short videos, the following helps give some sense of the millions of people living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. This video is about family who has been living for three years in IDP camp in Yemen, noting that many IDPs end up in such camps for 10 or 20 years. The broader question about the value and perils of such videos must await another newsletter.