Welcome to the September edition of this Peace&Justice action email!

This issue provides an action regarding Russia, as well as a few follow-up articles. My apologies for such a short newsletter but I am out of the country for the rest of the month. I hope to have more standard newsletters starting again in October.

The blog associated with this newsletter is at: http://untilall.org/blogs/newsletter/. Feel free to comment on any topic.



Russia recently made headlines when it sentenced members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot to two years in jail. Their crime: staging a nonviolent anti-Putin protest at Moscow's main cathedral. Since extremism has no legal definition Russia has used its anti-extremism laws as a wide net, rounding up journalists, activists, people of various religious persuasions, etc.

Many leaders will be gathering this week for the APEC conference. Human Rights First has a petition to tell US Secretary of State Clinton to stand with those being persecuted by this law and publicly state her opposition to such unjust legal tactics against nonviolent dissent..

Take IMMEDIATE Action (by Sept. 7):



There is no current action on this topic. And I am out of time, except to say that the humanitarian crisis along the border between North and South Sudan remains appalling. And the situation in Darfur, which has been in its rainy season with resulting inaccessible areas and flooding, also remains largely in a tragic state of limbo. More later.

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U.S. Maintains Sanctions on Burma

One of last month’s actions was a call for the U.S. to maintain sanctions on Burma. As noted below, the U.S. Congress passed legislation renewing the sanctions. So, thanks to all who signed the petition, since dynamics had been leaning toward a premature easing of sanctions!

Separately, Aung Sun Sui Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize recipient who was recently freed, has come under rare criticism for not raising her voice in defense of the oppressed Muslim minority Rohingya people. Some analysts feel that her new freedom comes with a price – whether to remain outspoken or follow a delicate balancing political act that chooses which battles to fight for in a quest for eventual political ascendency (see article).

Conflict-Free Mineral Campaign Results

This newsletter has been following the campaign that hoped to create a demand for conflict-free minerals. The idea was similar to the campaign years ago to create a conflict-free diamond market, where the mining of diamonds in such places as Sierra Leone had helped fuel the atrocities that had taken place and which harkened back even further to the days to pressure South Africa to end apartheid.

In this case the minerals in question are those used in the electronics industry and are primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where up to four million people have died since the outbreak of war in 1998. While the war formally ended in 2003, conflict lingers. And it is primarily in the Eastern area where the minerals are mined that their legacy helps fuel the conflict.

Thus came the desire to certify conflict-free minerals, as a means to reduce the level of conflict. But certifying minerals as conflict-free presented many more obstacles than diamonds and their impact on the shifting conflict was even harder to connect. Nonetheless, the following report illustrates the gains that have been made, where you can see the ranking of the big electronics players and a more detailed report. To be clear, like the ending of apartheid, a wide variety of tools will be required to bring about change – this issue is simply being followed to see what effect it might have and also to make clear that many of our consumer items contain hidden but very tragic implications for those whom we never see, until someone starts connecting the dots.



Kenya: Secessionist Group Strengthens

Kenya has long been considered a relative bastion of stability, at least until the political turmoil of a few years ago. Now comes a report of the group called the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which has existed since 1999, is now growing stronger. Their chief claim is that they have been ignored for 50 years - since independence - and talk has recently turned to independence. With elections in 2013 this tension if not handled well, could spark a much larger conflict. While the group is for nonviolent means, the issue could get out of control.



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UWAA:  This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of “Until Well-being is Achieved for All.”


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