Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘government’

Pristine Amazon Threatened

Dear Friends,

There is one area of the Ecuadorian Amazon that is so pristine that the whole ecosystem has been preserved and even jaguars roam free! But the government is now threatening to go in and drill for oil.

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The local indigenous people have been resisting, but they are afraid that oil companies will break up the community with bribes. When they heard that people across the world might stand with them and make a stink to save their land, they were thrilled. The president of Ecuador claims to stand for indigenous rights and the environment, but he has just come up with a new plan to bring oil speculators in to 4 million hectares of jungle. If we can say ‘wait a minute, you’re supposed to be the green president who says no one can buy Ecuador’, we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election.

He doesn’t want a PR nightmare right now. If we get a million of us to help this one community defend their ancestral land and challenge the president openly to keep to his word, we could start a media storm that would make him reconsider the whole plan. Sign the petition now and tell everyone — let’s help save this beautiful forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bMPbqab&v=21318

After Texaco and other oil companies polluted Ecuadorian waters and irreversibly devastated precious ecosystems, Correa led his country to be the world’s first nation to recognize the rights of “Mother Earth” in its constitution. He announced Ecuador was not for sale, and in Yasuni National Park promoted an innovative initiative where other governments pay Ecuador to keep oil in the ground to protect the rainforest rather than destroy it. But now he’s on the verge of selling out.

Shockingly, the Sani Isla Kichwa land is partly in Yasuni National Park. But even more shocking is Correa’s bigger plan — in days government officials begin a world tour to offer foreign investors the right to drill across 4 million hectares of forest (an area larger than the Netherlands!) Ecuador, as any country, may argue it has the right to profit from its natural resources, but the constitution itself says it must respect indigenous rights and its amazing forests, which bring millions in tourist dollars every year.

Right now, Correa is in a tough fight to win a second term as president. It’s the perfect time to make him honour his environmental promises and make this green constitution come to life. Sign now to stand with the Kichwa people and save their forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bMPbqab&v=21318

Our community has fought year after year to protect the Amazon in Brazil and Bolivia, and won many victories standing in solidarity with indigenous communities. Now it’s Ecuador’s turn — let’s respond to this urgent call for action and save their forest.

With hope and determination,

Alex, Pedro, Alice, Laura, Marie, Ricken, Taylor, Morgan and all the Avaaz team

On the Front Lines

She was a 23-year-old physical therapy student who boarded a bus in Delhi last month. Six men locked the door, and savagely raped her. They dumped her naked in the street, and after bravely fighting for her life, she died last weekend.

Across India, people are responding in massive protests to say enough is enough. In India a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and few see justice. Globally, a staggering 7 in 10 women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime. This horror in Delhi is the last straw — it’s 2013, and the brutal, venal, global war on women must stop. We can start by drawing the line in India.

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The government is currently accepting public comments. We urgently need both stronger law enforcement and a massive public education program to change the grotesque but common male attitudes that permit violence against women. If 1 million of us join the call for action, we can help make this young woman’s horror the last straw, and the beginning of a new hope:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

The ringleader of the woman’s rapists coldly says she deserved it because she dared to stand up to him. Blaming the victim and other outrageous attitudes are found across society, including in the police who continually fail to investigate rape. Such views repress women and corrupt men everywhere. Massively funded public education campaigns have radically shifted social behaviour on drunk driving and smoking, and can impact the treatment of women. Tackling the root causes of India’s rape epidemic is vital, alongside better laws and faster legal processes.

Advertising in India is relatively cheap, so a significant funding commitment could blanket airwaves in multiple media markets for a sustained period of time. The ads should target male subcultures where conservative misogyny thrives, directly challenging and shaming those attitudes, ideally using messengers like popular sports figures that carry authority with the audience.

We only have days to influence the official Commission set up to find ways to crack down on India’s wave of sexual violence. If we can show real success in shifting attitudes in India, the model can be applied to other countries. The money spent will more than pay for itself by reducing poverty and promoting development, since treatment and empowerment of women has been identified as one of the greatest single drivers of social and economic progress. Click to send a message directly to the Indian government:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_indias_war_on_women/?bMPbqab&v=20731

>From opposing the stoning of women in Iran, to supporting the reproductive rights of women in Morocco, Uzbekistan and Honduras, to lobbying for real action to counter the growing ‘rape trade’ in trafficked women and girls, our community has been on the front lines of the fight to end the war on women. This new year begins with new resolve in India.

With hope and determination,

Emma, Ricken, Luis, Meredith, Iain, Ian, Marie, Michelle, Alaphia, Allison and the rest of the Avaaz team

She Was Loved and Murdered

Dear Gabriel,

W1212EAIAR1“Noxolo was loved for being a mother, friend, soccer player and activist, she will never be forgotten by her loved-ones.”
– Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee Colleagues

Why did she die?

Noxolo Nogwaza was murdered on her way home from a night out with friends. In the early hours of April 24, 2011, her attacker(s) raped, repeatedly beat and stabbed the 24 year-old—apparently because of her sexual orientation. Noxolo was an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in South Africa.

A year after her death, no progress has been made in the investigation into her murder and her killer(s) remain at large. Help change that. Demand justice for Noxolo.

She was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, an organization that aims to empower and inform LGBTI people and to combat hate crimes, victimization and injustice through education and awareness-raising activities.

Sadly, homophobia and hate crimes against LGBTI individuals are common in South Africa, particularly against those living in townships and rural areas. Definitive statistics are difficult to obtain as the South African government does not classify rapes according to sexual orientation. However, in the last five years, there have been at least 10 reported cases of rape followed by murder of lesbians in townships across the country.

South African authorities must urgently take steps to put an end to these crimes. With your help, we can make sure that they do.

Please take action now. Tell the Police Commissioner to thoroughly investigate Noxolo’s death and bring her killer(s) to justice.

Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Linda Harris and Sadie Healy
Country Specialists, South Africa
Amnesty International USA

Powerful Majestic Creatures

Dear Gabriel,

Sperm whales are one of the world’s most powerful, majestic sea creatures – but they’re no match for drift gillnets.

In just one year, an estimated 16 sperm whales were drowned in gillnets off the coast of California. That’s not counting the sharks, turtles, dolphins, and other open ocean animals that are caught in greater numbers.

These nets, which are supposed to catch swordfish, are notorious for killing some of our oceans’ most endangered species. They should be banned—but instead they continue to kill turtles, sharks, whales and more.

That kind of indiscriminate killing of ocean wildlife cannot be allowed to continue, so we are fighting to stop the use of swordfish drift gillnets off the coast of California.

You can help us meet our $40,000 goal if you chip in – and until October 31, every gift you give will be MATCHED for double the impact. Donate just $10 today and join the fight to stop deadly gillnets»

The destructive power of gillnets cannot be underestimated, even for the formidable sperm whale.

Up to 65 feet long and weighing over 50 tons, these deep diving whales can hold their own against nearly anything in the oceans. But sperm whales were prized by whalers in the 18th and 19th centuries for the spermaceti oil contained in their large heads, and were hunted mercilessly.

They grow slowly, taking time to raise their young between births. Without human interference, a sperm whale may live to be 70 years old. But a young whale caught in a net doesn’t just lose those decades of life—it loses its chance to have babies and help replenish a population still struggling from the effects of whaling.

Six weeks ago, we filed our formal intent to sue the federal government for violating the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This is precisely the kind of action that will force the government to protect endangered ocean wildlife threatened by gillnets.

While they can be expensive, these lawsuits work. A similar lawsuit in 2009 forced the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to grant protections for the endangered loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles. Our fight against the use of drift gillnets in places where endangered sea creatures reside could save more turtles and whales – but only if we have the resources we need to win.

With your help, we can continue the fight for sperm whales and other ocean creatures around the world. Give $10 today and we’ll DOUBLE your support!»

For the oceans,
Emily Fisher
Oceana

Eyes On Syria

Gabriel,

Amnesty International just completed a mission in Syria, where we met with residents caught in the bitter battle for control of Aleppo – the country’s economic capital and largest city.

Amnesty Crisis Adviser Donatella Rovera shot alarming video footage of families who are living amidst the bombings, executions and other atrocities being committed by government forces and militias working alongside the Syrian military.

We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.

Government forces are attacking densely populated urban areas where the opposition is believed to be based, conducting air and artillery strikes that have injured and killed many civilians. One man told Donatella that he returned from work to find his home flattened:

“When I went to work, I never thought that it was the last time I would see my family. I lost all that was dearest to me – my children, my wife, my brother, my cousins – everybody.”

The civilian deaths Donatella witnessed are clear violations of international humanitarian law.

Amnesty International goes fearlessly into conflict areas to document abuses and report them to the international community. Help Amnesty International shout “Wake Up, World!” with breaking reports, images and video.

The findings of Donatella’s latest mission build on satellite images Amnesty International released last week showing the extent of likely artillery bombardment near Aleppo. The images, obtained by commercial satellites from July 23-August 1, show more than 600 craters – many near residential areas.

Donatella’s footage captures the faces of the families who took shelter from those bombings.

I know you can sense the urgency with which I write this message. We must keep our eyes on Syria and continue to call on the international community to stop the killing once and for all.

Sincerely,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Watch clips from Amnesty’s investigations in Syria.

Non-violence In Syria

From Nation of Change and Yes! Magazine
by Michael Nagler
31 July 2012

Syria: Lamp in the Storm

During the climactic “Quit India” campaign launched by Gandhi in 1942, there were outbreaks of violence. Earlier, in 1922, similar outbreaks had led him to suspend the non-cooperation movement. This time, however, he said, “let our lamp stay lit in the midst of this hurricane.”

This is very much the precarious situation of nonviolence in Syria today. A bit of background:

In the Quranic version of Cain and Abel, Abel says to his jealous brother,: “If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee, for I do fear God, the cherisher of the worlds.” (Quran 5:28) In other words, the first murder is accompanied by the first act of nonviolence, a refusal to kill, even in self-defense, through mindfulness of a God who stands far above partisan conflict.

Islamic scholar Sheik Jawdat Said based his book, The Doctrine Of The First Son Of Adam, apparently the first book in modern Arabic to proffer nonviolent solutions to the region’s problems, on this verse. Said’s ideas were well received in some intellectual circles in Syria but did not lead visibly to any appreciable change the political or social environment. The wave of agitations touched off by the Iranian revolution (though it itself had, and still has, some nonviolent character)—Egypt, Saudi Arabia, to a limited extent Syria itself—were in one way or another nationalistic but not particularly nonviolent. But a group of young men (shebab) who had fallen under the influence of an open-minded teacher at a school that was soon closed by the regime were receptive to the ideas of the distinguished sheik. With the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2001 they began to take some modest actions that were, particularly in one case, provocative to the regime. They began to clean up the streets of their respective neighborhoods. This may not seem very revolutionary to us, but in Syria people did not feel that they owned their country. Inside they lived in clean, orderly houses, but the public streets belonged to the state—which did nothing about them. In other words, while it’s doubtful any of them knew this, it was a perfect example of a Gandhian “Constructive Programme:” taking matters into your own hands in a way that puts the regime in a bad light if, as often, they interfere. Which they did. There were arrests. The regime knew these shebab were giving the people back ownership of their country.

Then came Arab Spring. Protests began in Syria in late January of 2011. In the early months Opposition forces were creating defections among military and government—critical for the success of non-violent insurrections—but many of the defectors and others turned to armed struggle in the face of the repression. According to Erica Chenoweth, the author, with Maria Stefan, of the highly influential study, Why Civil Resistance Works, such movements usually require two and a half to three years to take hold. There have been cases of nonviolent campaigns persisting in the midst of armed elements on both sides, and sometimes even rising to capture the legitimacy of the opposition from those armed elements, usually with some international recognition behind them, and going on to win the struggle: South Africa, the Philippines, and at some point (inshallah) maybe Palestine. This is crucial because, as Chenoweth and Stefan point out, nonviolent insurrections are twice as likely to succeed and vastly more likely to lead to conditions of real liberty (yet to happen in Egypt). In Syria, however, the fledgling movement was rather quickly overwhelmed. Extreme violence creates mobilization challenges that fledgling movements may find difficult to overcome. Some movements manage to maintain—or even increase—participation in the face of extreme violence (the Pashtun Khudai Kidmatgars in 1931, Iran in 1977-9), whereas others find themselves in disarray.” As Bsher Said (Jawdat’s son) informed me, when people are arrested and questioned they generally tell their captors what they want to hear—“Oh, yes, it was armed gangs that did the killing.” It has prompted Bsher to comment, pointedly, that “If we could stop the lying we wouldn’t need a revolution.” So far the wall of fear has not cracked, so we are lacking the sine qua non of successful insurrection—or successful almost anything.

Yet, as Donatella Rivera posts in her recent blog, “The young people I met—including those who had been injured—said they have no intention of stopping their protests.” And while the state actors of the “international community,” even if they resolve their differences, feel that they can do nothing, or worse, global civil society is not so inhibited. There is more going on than I am free to describe here, unfortunately, because of security concerns and the delicacy of some issues, but nonviolence training, badly needed visioning of a future for Syria, reconciliation work, and weekly discussion groups across borders are all going forward. As for higher level operations, we all know that the UN has sent in some 300 monitors, the so-called “blue berets” (joined by a smaller number from the Arab League). But this is the main point.

Summing up the failure of the nonviolent movement of Syria so far, Bsher succinctly says, “we were not ready.” Well, neither were we—the watching world. Three hundred monitors? When it comes to blue helmets the UN is ready to field 16,000. These unarmed monitors are a great step in the right direction, but they should have been at least ten times more numerous and ‘armed’ with a more robust mandate. As Mel Duncan, founding director of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, shared, they must be ready to protect Alawites as well as Sunnis: anyone under threat. They should set up cross-sectarian teams who can call in international help to forestall retaliatory violence when the transition takes place. Duncan should know. Nonviolent Peaceforce and other Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping groups have been doing this successfully, and with almost no casualties to speak of, around the world since the 1980s, and have recently made highly successful contacts with offices of the UN.

Read entire Op-Ed at Nation of Change or Yes! Magazine.

Indefinite Detention in U.S.

Gabriel,

Let’s take a moment to remember what’s at stake:

Our own government asserts that the military has the right to lock you — civilians, even American citizens — up indefinitely, without charge or trial, if it decides that you’re really really bad.

It’s still astounding to consider, even six months after it became the law.

Please click here to support our ongoing efforts to put an end to indefinite detention. We’re trying to raise $20,000 this week.

It is ONLY because of the lawsuit by Chris Hedges, Tangerine Bolen, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, and others that the current position of the federal courts is that indefinite detention is unconstitutional.

This case could eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Tens of thousands of Demand Progress members have supported that lawsuit — and more than 200,000 have urged congress to oppose indefinite detention, generating ever-growing support for our cause.

Now we need to raise funds to keep the fight alive: Our goal is to raise $20,000 to support the efforts of Demand Progress, RevolutionTruth, and the plaintiffs’ lawyers, so we can keep contesting indefinite detention on every front that’s open.

(Your donation will also help fund Demand Progress’s ongoing work against CISPA and in support of Internet freedom.)

Our success to date has been amazing — and because we’ve won in court and helped foment opposition to indefinite detention in Congress, we’re now invested in an effort that could drag out for some time.

The extraordinary attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer have been working for free — but court costs are piling up, and they’ve got to feed their families.

We expect Obama to appeal federal judge Katherine Forrest’s decision, and we need your help to make sure the lawyers can keep on fighting as the government continues its crusade against our dearly-held civil liberties.

This case could be headed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Please click here to help us keep up our anti-indefinite detention efforts — there are more than one million of you, and as little as 10, 25, or 50 dollars apiece makes a TREMENDOUS difference.

Demand Progress and RevolutionTruth have dedicated a huge proportion of our (rather modest) resources to the cause of blocking indefinite detention.

The campaigns have been successful beyond our wildest imaginations: We’re winning in court, and a bipartisan coalition in the House came close to killing indefinite detention a few weeks ago.

As the battle moves to the Senate and to a higher federal court, our organizations need your help so we can keep our work going.

(Demand Progress will, of course, also be fighting CISPA and doing other work to promote civil liberties and maintain a free and open Internet.)

Thanks for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we continue this critical work.

-Demand Progress

Widespread Evidence

Dear Gabriel,

This week Amnesty is releasing shocking field investigations from the front lines of the crisis in Syria.

Amnesty found widespread new evidence of heinous war crimes committed by the Syrian government armed forces and militias.

Recent news coverage of massacres in the towns of Houla and Daraa has increased global awareness of the crisis. Our investigations provide unequivocal evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for gross violations of human rights on a massive scale.

We need to continue our work in Syria until the atrocities stop. We are counting on people like you to help support our efforts – calling the world’s attention to human rights abuses committed in Syria and in other countries with oppressive regimes. Please donate today.

Time and time again Amnesty spoke with grieving families who told us how their relatives had been taken away by soldiers and shot dead, often just a few steps from their front doors.

Through our comprehensive report, the international community now has ample, credible documentation of the scale and gravity of the abuses. We now need your help to:

Pressure Russia and China to immediately halt weapons and munitions transfers to the Syrian government.

Demand that the United Nations Security Council act decisively in the wake of mounting global awareness of the crisis.

Ensure that human rights monitors can travel throughout Syria to get the facts that break through the Syrian government’s lies.

Please help Amnesty keep global attention and pressure on Syria’s government.

Sincerely,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Read the investigation and help spread the word.

Children Killed In Syria

Dear Friends,

The pictures from Al Houla, Syria, last Friday are almost too brutal to look at. I have a 5 year old daughter and I know it’s only luck of birth that separates her from this horror. But my shock led me to write this today as I know there is something we can all do together to stop this.

Dozens of children lie covered with blood, their faces show the fear they felt before death, and their innocent lifeless bodies reveal an unspeakable massacre. These children were slaughtered by men under strict orders to sow terror. Yet all the diplomats have come up with so far is a few UN monitors ‘observing’ the violence. Now, governments across the world are expelling Syrian ambassadors, but unless we demand strong action on the ground, they will settle for these diplomatic half-measures.

The UN is discussing what to do right now. If there were a large international presence across Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, we could prevent the worst massacres while leaders engage in political efforts to resolve the conflict. I cannot see more images like these without shouting from the rooftops. But to stop the violence, it is going to take all of us, with one voice, demanding protection for these kids and their families. Click to call for UN action now and send this to everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_will_the_world_look_away_ndb/?vl

A child’s death is tragic in any circumstance. The UN says 108 people were killed in the onslaught, 49 of them children under the age of 10, and the youngest was a 2 year old girl. 90% of the population of Al Houla has now fled their homes. As I put my daughter to bed last night, I tried to consider what the mothers and fathers and grandparents of these children feel. The sheer pain and desperation is unimaginable, but there will also be deep anger and hate for those that did this. Until all of us stop these attacks on the people of Syria, the cycle of violence will not end.

Let’s not forget — this bloodbath began over a year ago with thousands of people peacefully protesting on the streets — calling, like their brothers and sisters across the region, for freedom and democracy. But the regime responded with brutality and violence — murdering, torturing, abducting and laying siege to entire cities. The international community did not intervene, letting geopolitical concerns obstruct our responsibility to protect. Then, in desperation to protect their families and fight back against the repression, some took up arms. Now it is an armed conflict — and if the world continues to do nothing it will become a full blown sectarian war that may last for generations and breed the kind of terrorist attacks we have yet to imagine in our worst nightmares.

When dozens of children are murdered in cold blood by the army and their militias — it is time for serious action. Assad, his henchmen and his murderous army must be held to account and the people of Syria protected. Nothing the international community has done yet has pried Assad from his murderous grip on power. The few UN monitors on the ground were powerless to stop the Al Houla killings — they only served to count the tiny bodies. But if we sent in hundreds of monitors to each of the fourteen regions of Syria, Assad’s assassins would think twice.

The world looked away with Srebrenica, and with Rwanda. If all of us respond today — we can make sure that these children’s tragic deaths act as the tipping point for all of us everywhere to say NO MORE! But if we turn away, so will our leaders. Let’s join voices from every corner of the earth and make it impossible for our leaders to ignore our cry. In respect for these dear children and their families, click to join the global call to demand a massive UN presence on the ground now!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_will_the_world_look_away_ndb/?vl

The Avaaz community has stood with the people of Syria for fifteen months, denouncing the Syrian regime, calling for sanctions, supporting communities across the country with aid, and giving equipment to citizen journalists to get the word out about the violence. Let’s today make the Al Houla massacre the watershed moment for change and insist that our governments no longer stand by shaking their heads and turning their backs.

With deep sadness and determination,

Alice and the whole Avaaz team

Help Family In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

No one wanted it to come to this, but it has.

My father, prominent Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is on a 9-week hunger strike protesting the life sentence he received for peaceful protest.

In prison, security forces broke his jaw in four places and subjected him to severe physical, psychological and sexual torture. Since his arrest last year, my mother was fired from her job, my sister was arrested five times, and my brothers-in-law were arrested and tortured.

Authorities decide when to let anyone from my family see him. The human rights of my family and of thousands of peaceful Bahrainis like us have been deeply violated by the government.

My father doesn’t want to end his life. He wants to end injustice and violence against the Bahraini people.

Help me break through now, to save his life. Demand the immediate and unconditional release of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and all prisoners of conscience in Bahrain.

Many governments have shamefully ignored the daily and widespread human rights violations in my country. As controversy swirls around Bahrain’s plans to host the Grand Prix auto race this month, Bahraini authorities desperately try to assure the world that all is back to “business as usual.” But the people of Bahrain continue to call for change, and my father may pay for that goal with his life. Pressure from people like you may force action.

As one activist to another, I ask for your help securing the release of my father and of all of the unjustly imprisoned activists in Bahrain. Delay could mean death.

Please take action for my father today. I am forever grateful for your support.

In solidarity,

Maryam al-Khawaja
Head of Foreign Relations, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Daughter of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

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