Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Somalia’

Raped In Somalia – Go To Jail.

Dear Friends,

My name is Laila and I’m a journalist. I recently wrote a story about a young woman brutally gang-raped by government soldiers in Somalia, hoping that her bravery in telling such a painful story would bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail a rape victim and another journalist covering the story for ‘insulting the state’!

somalirefugees

Rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists — it’s the most crushing powerlessness. But together I think we can bring her hope. That’s why I started a global petition on the Avaaz site, because Somalia’s government depends heavily on financing from other governments, so the international community can press them to stop the cover up and bring real reforms to end the epidemic of rape by security forces.

Our call for change could really work, but it needs to be big. UN envoy Zainab Bangura has told us that she will directly deliver our petition to donor countries and Somalia’s President. Help by signing and forwarding this email — let’s show these women that they’re not alone, and that no one has the authority to rape them:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The brave young woman was accused of fabricating her own rape by government officials before she even got a trial. Then, the judge refused to hear witnesses or accept medical evidence proving that she was raped. And she’s not alone: I’ve interviewed too many women who live in constant fear of getting shot or raped, often by the very people charged with protecting them.

But there is hope for Somalia like never before. In just 18 months, it has approved a new constitution, selected a new president, and is finally winning its war against extremists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is in a position to act to protect women from his own armed forces, if we together give him a big reason to crack down on this state violence.

This innocent rape survivor and Abdiaziz Abdinur, the journalist who spoke to her, are facing a year in jail! Funders hold the key to changing the way Somalia’s own soldiers and security forces treat women. Sign now and forward this email to help grow a call big enough to change Somalia forever:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Somalia_No_Authority_to_Rape/?bMPbqab&v=22221

The Avaaz community has fought courageously to stop the war on women across the world. Last month, more than 1 million of us signed a petition calling for justice and real change in India after the tragic death of a rape victim in Delhi, and received encouraging signs from top government ministers that they were heeding our call. Now, we can bring that people power to Somalia and set the country on a new course.

WIth hope and determination,

Laila Ali, with the Avaaz team

*Laila is a British-Somali journalist based in Nairobi

Mixed Emotions

It’s the middle of the week and there have already been so many things happening inside and out. Mixed emotions are coming and going like a change in weather every minute.

Some friends of ours have been trying to adopt a brother and sister, who have been with them for 2 years now, and social services has made it a nightmare experience. The children are feeling safe, loved and thriving and our friends are wonderful parents. Instead of supporting them in the adoption process, a couple of people in social services have fought them all along the way. It’s no wonder there are so many children in foster homes. Social Services, instead of being supportive, is confrontational and always changing.

Then, there is the slaughter in Syria, the revolution in Libya and starvation in Somalia and Eastern Africa, which is all pulling me one way and then the other.

In the midst of all these turmoils was a wonderful time with our daughter, grandson and son-in-love camping and canoeing in the San Juan Islands off Puget Sound. Beautiful places, great company and time to relax.

When I pay attention to my mind, heart and body, there are always a zillion things going on, though I am only aware of one or two at a time. So, I guess the external circumstances, situations and events are similar, only on a national and international scale.

Now, how I choose to respond (or not) to all of these emotions and events is up to me, right? Or, at least the part of me that is aware of itself. Here I go

Stop Somalia’s Tragedy

From AVAAZ.org: The World In Action.

Dear friends,

More than 2000 people are dying every day in Somalia, in a famine that threatens to starve more than eleven million people to death. Conflict between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab regime and world leaders has kept out aid that could end the famine. But a few key countries have the power to broker a deal to stop the suffering.

Sign the urgent petition for a humanitarian truce and forward to everyone: AVAAZ.ORG

The famine-hit area is governed by Al-Shabaab, an Islamist regime that is linked to terrorist groups. The isolation and conflict between Al-Shabaab, other local leaders, and the international community has kept out much of the aid and trade that could end the famine. But a few key countries, including the United Arab Emirates, still trade with Al-Shabaab — they have an opportunity to broker a deal with the regime and break the stalemate that threatens the survival of millions.

We cannot let the politics of the war on terror claim any more innocent lives. It’s time for the international community and Al-Shabaab to come to an agreement to immediately get food to the suffering Somali people. The UN Security Council is meeting in a few days — let’s demand that they take immediate action to support key Arab nations in an effort to open talks with Al-Shabaab on cooperating to end the famine and seize this chance for a long-term political solution.

Somalia’s government was destroyed in 2006 by a US-backed invasion which feared Islamic extremism. But the tactic backfired. Since then, even more radical groups like Al-Shabaab took over and brutalized most of Somalia, and the international community has propped up a corrupt government whose control is limited to parts of the capital. The policies of isolation, invasion and pressure in the war on terror have not helped anyone, and now thousands of Somalis are dying every day. It’s time for a new approach.

The US has already stepped up to tackle the crisis, relaxing anti-terrorism laws that blocked aid from reaching the Somali people in Al-Shabaab’s region. Meanwhile, there are growing cracks within insurgent groups, and some leaders are willing to let aid in. But it is not enough to break the wall that surrounds those hardest hit by famine. Only bold international diplomacy can engage with all key parties to ensure that relief safely reaches the hundreds of thousands of desperate families.

One of Al-Shabaab’s largest sources of income comes from cutting down acacia trees for charcoal, which they illegally export primarily to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. These nations could now leverage their economic ties to Al-Shabaab to play a crucial diplomatic role and guarantee humanitarian access to famine-stricken areas.

We urgently need a new direction for Somalia — let’s appeal to the UN Security Council to support key Gulf countries to lead mediation efforts to ensure that Somalis dying behind Al-Shabaab’s lines are able to access life-saving food and health care for themselves and their starving children.

Together, Avaaz members have ensured crucial aid was delivered in Burma, Haiti and Pakistan after natural disasters, saving thousands of lives. Now, as the world watches heartbreaking images of dying children in shock and horror, we can urge key countries to show the leadership the Somali people urgently need — let’s stand together now and help end the tragedy in Somalia.

With hope and determination,

Luis, Stephanie, Maria Paz, Emma, Ricken, Giulia, Iain and the whole Avaaz team

TAKE ACTION AT AVAAZ.ORG

Perished and Present

Memorial Day – “a legal holiday in the U.S. in memory of the dead servicemen of all wars.”

That’s how Webster’s defines Memorial Day, but is that what takes place? Has this day of remembrance become just another holiday; another three-day weekend; a day of forgetting?

Memorial Day can be a powerful reminder and opportunity for honoring and remembering our dead; for paying homage to those who died believing that their lives made a difference; that their lives were sacrificed for the benefit of others.

In many respects, those who have died for this experiment in democracy are still living. They’re living in the water we drink, the food we grow, the ballot we cast, the policies we protest, the pains, sorrows and struggles of everyday life.

I respect the men and women who fought to end slavery in the Civil War and those, like my grandfather William, who fought in World War I, believing it would be “the war to end all wars”. I remember and give thanks to my father-in-law, who fought during World War II against the Nazis and lost his parents, grandparents, family and friends in the concentration camps. I thank my father, who went away for years to an unknown fate to stop the dictatorships of German and Japanese governments during the second world war. And I remember and honor all those who died in Lebanon, Panama, Viet Nam, on 9-11, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who returned from those conflicts and died from resulting disease, addiction or suicide.

Though Memorial Day honors those who have died during wartime, let us not forget the military women and men who have died outside of conflict; those who have died while training; while in transport; during missions of peace and rescue; and at home from illness, accident, governmental disregard or neglect.

Before we can ever proclaim, “Never again!” we must exclaim, “Never forget!” Never forget the soldiers and civilians who have perished. Let us honor they’re memory, by keeping them in our hearts and doing everything possible to prevent and end the wars that have caused such great sorrow and suffering. Take some time to bring out pictures, tell stories, make a toast, thank those still living and recommit our selves to the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Memorial Day reminds us that blood and tears are the same in any language. Every life is precious and every loss must be remembered, mourned and honored.

These thoughts and reflections are an excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

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