Welcome to the Sunday March 29, 2009 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we start with Darfur and the appalling decision by Sudan's President Bashir to expel 13 international aid agencies from Darfur. Also included is an action regarding the upcoming G20 meetings, and a U.S. action on cluster munitions. In addition, for their own sake and in support of International Women's Day there are actions related to abused Mexican women protesters and another tiny opening to free Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi. And at the end is a brief note about Earth Day.
______________________________________________________DARFUR - ANCHORING RESPONSE TO IMMINENT AID DISASTER
The previous email highlighted what Sudan's President Bashir might do if an arrest warrant for him was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC); See Debate on ICC arrest warrant. We have now seen him follow through on many of the threats, in particular by expelling 13 international aid agencies. This effectively removed support from 40% of the camps. With the medical teams gone, such diseases as the recent meningitis outbreak will quickly spread. Once the fuel runs out for the pumps, there will be little clean water, diarrhea will spread and children will die. And all that is before the food runs out. People will likely flee and overwhelm the camps in Chad or other areas, if they survive the trek.
Thus the first action is a petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to apply pressure to ensure humanitarian aid for Sudan. Sudan has stated that it can fill in the ensuing gaps, but that proposition is not generally seen as credible.
Petition to UN Ban Ki Moon Maintain Humanitarian Aid in Sudan:
The 2nd action is for U.S. citizens. Firstly it should be noted that last month's action to have President Obama appoint a Special Envoy has been acted upon - he appointed General Scott Gration. This is quite encouraging because the administration, hit by other huge crises, was appearing to waver on its commitment to Darfur. The next step is to petition President Obama to help ensure aid groups are allowed back into Sudan, especially since the rainy season will start in a few weeks, which makes such logistics substantially more difficult.
The Genocide Intervention Network has a special action set for Obama's Day 75 (April 3). Basically the action is to write letters now, and then on April 3, call 1-800-GENOCIDE to contact your representatives:
Tell US President and Congress to Act Now:
Facts about Current Darfur Aid
Obama names Gration as special envoy to Sudan
______________________________________________________GLOBAL G20 SUMMIT
The world is in economic meltdown, and leaders are meeting at the crucial G20 London Summit next week to decide what to do. This provides an opportunity to voice a desire to alter the international financial system to put people first. The resulting petition will be delivered directly to summit officials and leaders. It may include a short optional survey on some more details of the issue.
______________________________________________________US CLUSTER MUNITIONS
In last June's email, US citizens had the opportunity to press the Presidential candidates to support a cluster munitions ban. Since then the US has taken a positive step by banning cluster munitions exports (see below).
There is debate in the U.S. on whether to ban them entirely, which would allow joining the Cluster Munitions Convention. Their chief problems are two-fold: (1) they are too indiscriminate, spraying bomblets in a wide area, which can kill any civilians in the area; (2) they have a 10-25% dud rate, which often means long after the battle, children pick them up and are maimed or killed. As Matt Bolton (who did his PhD, London School of Economics, on demining), indicates, the Pentagon is loathe to give up any weapon, even though there is considerable international consensus that any military value of such weapons is far outweighed by their terrible humanitarian effects. This is reinforced by some US military people, who either recognize that counterinsurgency battles are as much about opinion as military action, and that US troops sometimes must go back over the area that is now filled with duds.
As an interim next step, the US Senate has a bill (Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, S. 416) which would prohibit the use of any cluster munitions that have more than a 1% failure rate. To support such a measure, follow the action below:
Tell your Senator to support Bill S416
US Ban Cluster Bomb Exports, March 11
Guardian article arguing against Cluster bombs (Matt Bolton)
Foreign Policy Think Tank against Cluster Bombs
______________________________________________________SUPPORT JUSTICE FOR ABUSED MEXICAN WOMEN
In support of the women who were abused by police in San Salvador Atenco, and acknowledging International Women's Day this month, the following action is a petition to Mexican President Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa, calling on him to follow through and ensure those responsible are brought to justice. The Mexican Supreme Court ruled that serious human rights violations had taken place following a public protest, but nothing else has happened.
Tell Mexican President to Follow Through with Investigation:
Petition to Mexican President
______________________________________________________PETITION TO FREE BURMA'S AUNG SAN SUU KYI
In mid-March, risking danger to speak out for their jailed friends, Burmese activists demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners and called on the world to help. As the global economic crisis makes aid flow more essential, Burma's generals are becoming more vulnerable to international pressure. It is not much of an opening, but if the Burmese activists thought it worth risking their safety, then I want to support them in their efforts to again mobilize the global voice. The following link takes you to a petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to make this a top priority:
Tell Ban Ki Moon to Make Burma a Priority:
Petition to UN Secretary General
______________________________________________________OF NOTE: EARTH DAY
Earth Day, or specifically Earth Hour, occurred a few hours ago, on March 28, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, around the world. Initial reports are that it was successful, which means that while it is only a gesture, it is one that indicates growing worldwide concern for climate change. This email was delayed for an hour, as we shut down our power usage during that time. If you joined in, great! If you missed it, the important thing is to reflect on ways each one of us can reduce our footprint on the earth.
UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of "Until Well-being is Achieved for All."
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