Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ottawa: Non-Natives and Natives march in support of Six Nations

Friday solidarity demonstrations occurred in Ottawa and many other communities across the country. The demonstrators were standing up in support of the Six Nations people in Caledonia, Ontario who have been engaged in direct action against the development of what they say is their land that they leased, not sold to the government. The government takes a different approach looking as the land was their property and therefore their property to sell to developers. The standoff has been going on since February 28th of this year. On April 20th, in the wee hours of the morning police raided the standoff with M16s, pepper spray, tear gas, batons, and tasers despite the protesters being unarmed. They arrested 16 individuals, but instead of this causing the demonstration to end Warrior societies were called in and many more people went to support the standoff.

The Demonstration in Ottawa had many different speakers on the open mike, most of which from First Nations groups. Many different groups were represented within the group of 80 or so people who came and went at different points. The most compelling speaker was Mohawk and talked about human rights in our society. He talked about how society cannot know human rights when women are still oppressed. He also mentioned that in Caledonia during the raid one person who was arrested refused to give his name or identification and the OPP actually stabbed him with a needle to get his blood to identify him by DNA. He continued to say that the government knew nothing of human rights due to what the government was doing at home and abroad.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Opinion: Effectiveness of Protests

A phrase that gets thrown around often in Canadian society is that "protests don't accomplish anything." As its prominent that I am an activist I often encounter this style of thinking. This mode of thought either comes about from not knowing history and current events or a feeling that seeing as protests don't accomplish tasks instantly they are therefore useless.

History shows the usefulness of protest all around the world. The situation in Nepal is a great example where, though democracy is not fully restored yet the King's absolute rule is being stripped away. The people of Nepal were able to change their situation not by outside intervention or staying at home, but instead by taking to the streets and demanding their rights effectively shutting down the country. If they had not taken to the streets in protest the likelihood of the King relinquishing control would be slim. France recently is another powerful example of mass protests shutting down a country. Over a million people took to the streets of France for weeks on end to oppose a law that discriminated against youth allowing them to be fired without cause for two years.

A counter response to those may be that, those are huge numbers of people and is therefore different then small groups and protests. This mode of thinking I disagree with as well. Even if a protest is fairly small it can either help build large amounts of awareness or even disruption. One example of a effective protest that was small in Ottawa would include the Michael Ignatieff protest where four students stood up during his speech at uOttawa and turned around wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods, then the first person on the question period was a student with a direct question using quotes of him supporting torture in the past. Another example in Ottawa was just after the Iraq invasion where about fifteen protesters were able to shut down access to the United Kingdom High Commission for a few hours. So, small groups if done correctly can have a major impact.

There are four types of protests which are effective. The movements in Nepal and France are two examples large mass movements who effective shut down the country to get direct results on an issue. The second are protests to raise awareness, the Ignatieff protest was one of these where five people were able to bring their message across in all the major media and is even now in Michael Ignatieff's biography on Wikipedia. The third type are those to disrupt, the UK High Commission was an example of this. The intent is to inconvenience the actor who is causing whatever you oppose, this is done through different forms of direct action. The last I haven't talked about yet, those are solidarity protests. Solidarity demonstrations such as the one occurring tomorrow for the Six Nations in Caledonia, is done not necessarily to change the views of the offending party, but to show support and give strength to the actor in need and raise awareness on the issue. All these different forms are effective, but for different reasons. One must realize nothing about civil society has instant gratification.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ottawa: Justice for Mohamed protests "Guantanamo North"

The Justice for Mohamed Harkat committee and some three to four dozen people met on tuesday in a emergency protest in front of Immigration Canada. Mohamed Harkat one of the five Muslim men being held on Security Certificates was transfered secretively to a new facility near Kingston. Sophie Harkat, his wife was unaware when it happend as it was done without warning. The group chanted and sung things like "Where is the evidence against these men?" and "Down with, CSIS." Many people spoke in support of Sophie including Jessica Squires of International Socialists - Canada, Stuart Ryan for the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW), Jo Wood for the Ottawa Raging Grannies, Colin Stuart for the Religious Society of Friends, myself, and Christian Legeais media representative for the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee.

Opponents to the facility are calling it a Guantanamo North. The facility will house those on sercurity certificates which includes no charge, secret trials, and unavailability of the evidence held against them. Mohamed has been held for over 3 years without charge or fair trial. Unlike camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay however, the inmates will be able to see their families though, under strict conditions and, the names of all the inmates is known. There has also been widespread talk of torture at Camp X-Ray as the camp is a legal blackhole so, the same rules on human rights don't apply. This new facility is on Canadian territory and therefore not a black whole, but it could be why the Canadian government won't criticize what goes on at Guantanamo Bay.

Image From a December Protest

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ottawa: Dishonour our Troops

The new government has been quite innovative in its ability to mimic the United States on how to go about war. The phrase 'cut and run' has entered our dialect, directly from the Republican public relations individuals from the United States. The phrase is used to marginalize anyone who asks to bring the troops home. It says we will not be cowards and run from our mission. Despite pulling out being the more honourable thing to do instead of occupying a people and working with warlords and drug lords. Somehow supporting our troops to this government means to stop dissent and, to crush justice and free speech which are important parts of democracy.

Now two more ideas have been pulled from the United States playbook. The first is the barring of media from showing the caskets of the fallen soldiers when they come home. I think this is a disgrace to the soldiers, if however, the families request it that I support. Yet, in this case one of the families actually came out directly against the decision as dishonourable. The second is that the flag on the Peacetower will no longer be lowered for the death of soldiers only for, "former governors general, senators and prime ministers." [CBC] Both of these are to stop people from realizing how many people are being killed then asking why are our soldiers really there? I have a lot more respect for soldiers who loose their lives then someone such as a senator who is a appointed and therefore undemocratic. Our soldiers put themselves on the line because, of a feel that they need to protect this country. It is the duty of every Canadian to not send them to war unless absolutely necessary. Every soldier that dies, is the responsibility of Canadians. If Canadians are silent on the issue their wasted blood is on our hands. Below is the names of the killed soldiers and diplomat from Afghanistan so far.

Sgt. Marc D. Leger
Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer
Pte. Richard Green
Pte. Nathan Smith
Sgt. Robert Alan Short
Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger
Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy
Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield
Glyn Berry
Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson
Cpl. Paul Davis
Pte. Robert Costall
Cpl. Randy Payne
Lt. William Turner
Bombardier Myles Mansell
Cpl. Matthew Dinning

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Nepal: The Masses have Won!

All night the Nepalese people have been celebrating and with good cause. After weeks of protest including hundreds of thousands of people and, a general strike which crippled the economy the King of Nepal has backed down and called elections. [Al Jazeera] After a year of struggle in the country of Nepal activists have reclaimed what is rightfully their's democracy. Only through mass movements of their own people could it be accomplished with all parties working as one united source for peace. In response they got tear gas, beaten by canes, thrown in jail, and shot. Despite all this instead of stopping the movement it made more people join against the tyrannical King. Like Cochabamba, Bolivia and their struggle for water democracy, the people of Nepal should be a shinging light for those in the South for the power they hold and the North for what can be done.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Opinion: The Canadian Left Wing, a Culture of Silence

Many people would call me a socialist. When I was growing up I vividly remember my father who is a conservative saying to me when I was ten years old that I was one. I however, am more and more disheartend by the Canadian left wing. The New Democratic Party fails at being distinct as it moves more and more each year towards mediocrity, the peace movement has not been outspoken about the major abuses in China, Palestine and, Sudan, and the issue of Haiti which our government has a direct role in is often ignored.

In the past I have been very partisan towards those I talk to. Especially around election time I was able to convince many people to vote for the NDP. I now believe that this was a mistake. Partisan politics do anything, but aid in the democratic process. The recent "take-note" debate in the house of commons about Afghanistan just showed how similar the parties are. Not a single member of parliament came outright against the action due to fealty to party heads and that even questioning the mission gets one berated by other MPs as well as the media as unpatriotic. Yet, in reality the crushing of dissent in a state that is supposed to be democratic is unpatriotic.

The peace movement certainly is not perfect either. Instead of actually looking at what is going on in the world such as the genocide in Darfur or the human rights abuses in China or the occupation of Palestine. The peace movement has just allowed it to continue without a word. Of course small groups have popped up on these specific issues, but instead of movement building this is the separation, just as partisan politics is separation. In conversations about these issues what I get in response is that it is due to our government not being directly involved. However, in the case of Darfur it is a full case of genocide which causes much more brutality then what is going on in Afghanistan. In the case of China we trade heavily with them and give them legitimacy. Lastly on Palestine I've barely heard anything about the ongoing occupation despite the fact that we are now voting against the Palestinians in the United Nations and have removed all aid for them.

Both the NDP and Peace movements have neglected Haiti. The NDP instead of going public on the issue has neglected to mention it other then some tiny parts after the coup d'etat. Alexa McDonough is the only MP to have publicly addressed the issue as to the abuses after the coup. She wrote a letter to her credit, but has neglected to tell the fact that we planned it. The peace movement has mentioned Haiti, but here and there, there is reluctance to include Haiti on the agenda. During the March 18th protests though the group I'm part of the Students Coalition Against War took on the issue in our previous demonstration, the main march left out Haiti. Whenever I see images from or hear of Toronto protests I have yet to see Haiti be on the agenda there either. The Canadian Haiti Action Network has struggled away for Haiti to be included and have produced many great things.

My proposal is this, we discard partisan politics and discard the title of left or right. Instead we acquire the title of caring human being who has a affinity for peace, liberty and, freedom. If your candidate actually stands up for what is correct vote for them whether they be Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc, Green, Independent, Marxist, First Nations, Libertarian, excetera.

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This Week in Protests

Brisbane: Protesters tried to disrupt Prime Minister Howard at St John's Cathedral for a number of reasons on thursday. [Courier Mail]

Kings Domain: Aboriginal groups have had a standoff with the Australian government over land claims. [Herald Sun]

New South Wales: Enviromentalists picketed a gold mine for the permanent poisoning of the water supply. [ABC]

Caledonia: Standoffs between Native Americans and M16 carrying riot police have occurred as the government attempts to remove them from what they call their rightful land. Others have rallied in support. [Post 1][CBC]

Ottawa: The Ottawa Haiti Solidarity Committee demanded the resignation of Jean-Pierre Kingsley for the abuses of Elections Canada in Haiti. [Post 1]

Toronto: 500 - 600 people rallied in Queens Park on friday against the expulsion of members of the Portuguese community. [Radio-Canada]

Paris: Some students continued protests that were started under the oppressive youth job law, but most decided to return to classes. [Associated Press]

Nairobi: Over 500 people protested on friday against the murder of a 15 year old boy because, he was HIV positive. [BusinessInAfrica]

Jalandhar: Farmers Unions boycotted the markets in protest of the import of foreign wheat to the region. [Business Standard]

New Delhi: Medical students demonstrated against reservations to be past in medical colleges for students from "backwards classes". [The Hindu]

Nirsapur: Groups protested the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Narmada river as the dam will displace many people without compensation. The leader has launched a long hunger strike to bring visibility to the issue. [NDTV]

Soldiers on the Lebanon border had a one-day muntiny which required officers to chase them down in public view. [Daily Star]

Ulan Bator: Thousands of people protested the government over corruption and the use of mining by the government. [Associated Press]

Pro-democracy protests continued this week despite the curfew being reinstated and threats to be shot on site. Awful human rights violations have also continued. [Al Jazeera] (More information about protest in sidebar)

Northern Ireland
Belfast: The animal rights group Animal Rights Action Network held a march against the cruel conditions in circuses. One woman at the head of the march striped to her underwear, took off her bra, wore shackles, and walked around with painted on scars. [Belfast Telegraph]

Muzaffarabad: Survivors of last years earthquake were beaten for demanding compensation for damages. [Daily Times]

Nablus: A hundred Palestinian youth were open fire upon by Israeli soldiers, two of which were injured. [Associated Press]

United States
Atlanta: Coke's board meeting was protested wednesday for their human rights abuses in Columbia and their environmental abuses in India. [Associated Press]

Cambridge: Harvard University students rallied in support of a new policy which would include the protection of gender identity for the inclusion of Transgendered people. [Boston Globe]

Charlottesville: Despite the arrest of some members over the weekend, students of the University of Virginia continued their protest against the poor wages of the university. [CNSNews]

Chicago: Students at the University of Illinois protested the raids on illegal immigrants by the Department of Homeland Security which recently rounded up 1100 of them. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Eastborne: Students protested the closing of their high school wednesday. [Eastborne Herald]

Ogden: A motorcycle group the Patriot Group protected mourners who were having a funeral for a killed soldier in Iraq, from a group who believes the death of soldiers in Iraq is due to homosexuality in America. (Hard to believe people would actually do this I know) [Washington Times]

Tallahassee: Students performed a sit in of Governor Jeb Bush's office in response to the State's reaction towards a youth who was killed in a boot camp by the beating of guards. [Guardian]

Washington: Justice for Jude advocates marched on the federal court house to demand that the actual evidence of Frank Jude a black man who was brutally beaten by white officers. [Justice for Jude]

Washington: Tibetan, Taiwanese, Falung Gong and, pro-democracy protesters gathered in response to the visit of Chinese President Hu. They heckled him and one Falung Gong protest actually interrupted his speech by yelling until she was herded away by the Secret Service. [DOSE]

Williamsburg: A student was expelled for admitting he was gay on his myspace account. In response gay rights advocates rallied outside the school. [WKYT]

Caracas: Thousands of people protests the government's response to crime while thousands more protested in favour of the government calling for peace. [Associated Press]

Groups protested the closing of the Withybush hospital which is the only hospital in the region. [BBC]


Friday, April 21, 2006

Ottawa: CHAN Demands Kingsley's Resignation

About two dozen protesters met at lunch hour today outside Elections Canada. The Canadian Haitian Action Network(CHAN) decided to call for the resignation of Jean-Pierre Kingsley the chief electoral officer who tried to legitimate the Haitian elections. The government of Haiti was overthrown in 2004 by Canada, France and, the United States, even though it was democratic. The media has largely stayed away from this despite the fact that the Carribean Community, the African Union and, some South American states have condemed it as a coup d'etat. In order to cover up this fact Kingsley was put in place to oversee elections in the country. The elections were marred with error including forged ballots, dumped ballots in garbage, thousands of political prisioners, intimidation and murder of Fanami-Lavalas supporters, as well as the reduction of polling stations. In the Haitian run elections of 2000 there were 12,000 polling stations around the country. In the Elections Canada run Haitian elections of 2006 there were only 900 which were concentrated in the rich neighbourhoods. Despite all this Rene Preval a friend of the deposed President Aristide and President from 1995 - 2000, won the elections. The demonstrators from the Ottawa-Haiti Solidarity Committee a part of CHAN delivered their demands inside in person in order to make their point heard as they were watched by about a dozen uniformed police, two plain clothes (one of which was taking photos of everyone's faces) and, the Elections Canada security. To see their full demands and reasoning go here.
Image from Haiti Information Project. Haitians Protest UN abuses.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sudan: An Introduction

The genocide currently going on in Sudan is horrific. After the Rwandan genocide, which could have been prevented by the world, the world said never again. Despite that month after month goes by with little being done about the tragedy which even the CIA lists as having "ongoing genocide" on their website. For my readers who know little about Sudan and the genocide going on this will be a brief introduction to the conflict and the country.

Sudan is one of the largest countries in the world and in fact the largest country in Africa. Their history is mixed due to colonization by many powers. Many years ago it was known as Nubia and was one of the more glorious kingdoms in Ancient Africa. Later it became influenced by the expanse of Islam as well as Arab tribes. Like the rest of Africa however it was carved up and put together by a European power, for Sudan it was the British. It got independence from joint British-Egyptian control in 1956 after the Second World War.

Sudan today is a member of both the African Union and the Arab League. Its ruled by an Authoritarian regime under President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The country is ruled by a mixture of Sharia and British Common Law. Sudan has been embroiled in conflict for many years. There has been many conflicts between the Northern Khartoum government and the southern tribes. An agreement was reached which gave the southern states more autonomy and abstention from Sharia law as many in the South are either Christian or practice indigenous religions.

The government has been on a campaign of "arabizing" the country. A horrible word and even worse program of ideas of racial purity which, has been seen in Germany in the 40s, former Yugoslavia in the 90s, and Rwanda in 94. The official language is Arabic and Arab raiding groups known as the janjaweed. Not all targets are African some are Arabs as well as some Africans who are participating in the genocide. The janjaweed are funded by the Sudanese government to attack the people of Sudan. They will go into towns obliterate the entire town, then move on to the next. Men are almost always killed while womyn sometimes instead are mass raped. Rape campaigns were also widely used in Yugoslavia during the genocide there. So far according to Fatama Haroun member of the Darfur Rehabilitation Project and the Sudan Peace Advocates Network, "...up to 700,000 people have been killed, either by direct killing or by disease and malnutrition,"[DN!]. That is genocide, it has been going on since February 2003 so, it may not be as fast as say Nazi Germany or Extremist Rwanda, but it is still genocide while the world watches.

The African Union did put in a peacekeeping force, but due to huge underfunding there is not nearly as much done as could be. The United States, Russia, China and, Algeria have blocked the United Nation's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on briefing the Security Council about the situation, and the Sudanese government has been playing games with the international community[DN!]. The first step made by the United States has been to seek UN sanctions on four Sudanese individuals[WP]. In my opinion trying to sanction four individuals for what your own foreign intelligence call ongoing genocide is a joke if anything. I think a joint peacekeeping taskforce should be brought in led by the African Union and Arab League then propped up by the United Nations and international money.

For more information about the Crisis visit:
Amnesty International: Sudan
Be A Witness
Doctors Without Borders: Sudan
Genocide Intervention Network
Human Rights Watch: Sudan
International Committee of the Red Cross/crescent: Sudan
Students Take Action Now Darfur: Canada
Survivors United To Save the Women of Darfur

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Critque: Haiti How Canada is Lying

Yesterday during my studies and look at the media I came across two articles citing the great job Canada is doing in Haiti. One was the other was my Politics and Globalization textbook. Yet, what they cite is contrary to reality of the awful role we're playing.

Gov. Gen. Jean to travel to homeland of Haiti
"Preval's democratically elected predecessor and associate, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by rebels in 2004. The United States provided an airplane to help Aristide flee the country, but he did not get any help to regain power."
There are other parts of the article which are not true or half-true, but that paragraph is by far the worst. Now the media has come a long way as two years ago Aristide was being portrayed more like a dictator. However, it doesn't mention that the rebels were funded by the United States, Canada and, France. It also fails to mention that the coup was planned here in Ottawa called the Ottawa Initiative, which decided the fate of Haiti without the popular will of Haitians. The article also leaves out that that airplane was secured on the ground by Canadian forces and, that it was a forced leave which landed the plane in the Central African Republic, a dictatorship friedly towards France. The author also forgets that it was not that he did not get help to regain power, he was openly blocked to regain power. If you want to know about the situation either comment or read this site.

The next distortion came from my textbook Global Politics by Allen Sens and Peter Stoett on page 454. It states "...continued violence in Haiti led to the overthrow of the Aristides governments, and Canada again responded with a commitment to peace and stability efforts, largely supported by Montreal's Haitian Community." Another not true statement as Canada responded by instigating the violence and helping with the overthrow of Aristide which was not supported by Montreal's Haitian Community. In fact Montreal's Haitian community condemed the government's actions and formed a group called Haiti Action Montreal.

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Monday, April 17, 2006


Here are some solidarity images. Use freely. It would be nice to have links back to my site, but its not mandatory.

Afghanistan Solidarity

Haiti Solidarity

Iraq Solidarity

Palestine Solidarity

Tibet Solidarity

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Nepal: Protests Continue, Food Shortages begin

The situation in Nepal continues to be dire. Protests continue to rock the small Himalayan country as demonstrators find the King's few promises a fraud. One protest of 200 journalists for free press led to the beating of some of them, which has been seen in basically all protests [Al Jazeera]. A similar protest by lawyers for constitutional reign of law led to a break up of the protest by teargas and M16 fire [Guardian]. Due to the protests and a general strike that have lasted eleven days now, Nepal is starting to experience food and other product shortages. One demonstrator on the street said "We thought democracy was for politicians, but we made a mistake" [Al Jazeera].

There has been some condemnation around the world about the Nepalese Monarchy. However, most comes from human rights organizations such as Amnesty International. The United Nations has also issued condemnation of the situation. Nepal despite the brutal crackdown on its own people happens to be the fifth largest contributor to UN peacekeepers. Countries like Canada and the United States have barely mentioned the situation there, despite their stated commitment to democracy. Perhaps the lack of important economic resources in the country has something to do with it. Sadly the United States won't even recognize the Maoists despite they being the second largest party and calling for democracy as well. The CIA classifies the Maoists a terrorist group and therefore not to be dealt with.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

This Week in Protests

This will be a weekly compilation, if you know of more don't hesitate to tell. Whether I agree with the protesters or not I will add it to the weekly digest.

Refugee activists have protested outside a military barracks and other parts of the country for access to detained immigration detainees.[TheAge]

Ottawa: On April 10th activists took on the governments role in Afghanistan on Parliament Hill. It was the day of a "take-note" debate in the house which did not include any votes in democratic process and any snippets of dissent were attacked as unpatriotic. The outside rally was even called in the House as a "anti-troop rally" despite chants of "Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home" being shouted and, a memorial for the Canadian soldiers and Afghan Civilians that have died. [Post]

Ottawa: Falung-Gong protesters continue their message of the brutality of the Chinese government and, the uncovered presence of a death camp where Falung-Gong prisioners are killed, their organs harvested, then they are incinerated.

Ottawa: The United Steelworkers at the Congress Centre have gone on strike for livable wages, full tips, and the dignity not to be threatend with replacement.[Post]

Ontario: Farmers have continued their protests against their dire situation. In order to get funding from the federal government they even have gone as far as interrupting food distribution in Cambridge, East-end Ottawa, and Whitby.[OSun]

In south-western Iran many citizens protested a cut off of water which as of April 13th had already lasted four days even in hospitals.[IF]

Student and Union protests have continued, but the government has caved in on the law which sparked the protests which would of let employers fire young workers for up to two years without cause.[ToI]

Pro-democracy protests have rocked the entire country. Many people have been injured or arrested, but a curfew has been lifted and the King has promised to hold elections though, this may be faulty.[Post 1][Post 2]

Gaza: Protests have occured in the occupied territories due non-payment of wages of Palestinian Authority workers including the Police force.[Forbes]

Bil'in: Demonstrators friday held a protest against the Israeli occupation wall.[ISM]

Biet Sira: Citizens of this town also held a protest against the wall.[ISM]

South Korea
Farmers protested against the eviction from their lands to expand the Camp Humphreys United States Military Base.[S&S]

United States
Some of the largest ever protests have happend around the country against immigration laws which would make the 12 million undocumented immigrants felons and, to help them even unknowingly would be a crime. There has even been talk of building a wall between the United States and Mexico.[DN!]

Crawford: Cindy Sheehan of Gold Star Families For Peace along with many supporters has returned to Crawford, Texas to set up Camp Casey 2 for the Easter weekend in protest against the Bush administrations invasions and Katrina response.[GSFFP]

Virginia: 17 students were arrested in a sit in of the University of Virginia. They were demanding living wages. Protesters outside the building have set up a tent city.[DN!]


Friday, April 14, 2006

Nepal: Curfew lifted, Elections Called

The Nepalese government have lifted their curfew on the country. The King also stated in an address to the Nepalese people that "It is ... our desire that with the active participation of all political parties committed to peace and democracy, a meaningful exercise in multi-party democracy be initiated through an exemplary democratic exercise," [Al Jazeera]. Yet, democrats continue to protest the government as words are not actions. There is no specific timetable for the elections and the past week has had awful abuses against demonstrators. Demonstrators and riot police have thrown rocks at each other, tear gas has been massively used, the use of beating with batons has been widespread, as well as guns some with rubber bullets others just normal bullets. With no set date for the vote and, the opposition parties finding the small overtures by the King little more then token who knows how long the widespread protests will continue.

Edit: Democracy Now! actually did a piece on the situation which can be seen here.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ottawa: Congress Centre USW on Strike

The United Steelworkers who work at the Ottawa Congress Centre are on strike. They include the bartenders, servers, housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen and set-up staff. There are three major issues that they are striking for include tips, wages and, replacement workers. The workers at the Congress Centre do not get full tips 32% is taken away from them and they wish that like most places they should have full access to their own tips. They also believe their wages are too low and one member noted that other workers in the Congress Centre have rising high wages, but theirs is barely considered a living wage. The Centre has also threatened to bring in replacement workers to take their jobs. One major thing that anyone may notice is the disproportion of members of minorities and new immigrants.

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Nepal: Protests Continue Against Monarchy

The small Asian country of Nepal has a rich and long history. It was three small states when in 1768 after war it became a unified country. Squished on Himalayans mountaintops between the two giants China and India. The country only got a democratic parliament in 1991 when the Monarchy was forced to become constitutional. In 1996 a Maoist party started pushing for the change to a Communist system of governance. Their presence as led to a low grade civil war. In 2001 however, the crowned Prince Dipendra went on a murderous rampage killing many people in the palace as well as himself. The late king's brother Gyanendra took the throne and last year dissolved the government and clamped down with absolute power.

Since then there has been many clashes as both the Maoists and Democrats are challenging the king's rule and wish for democracy. The main demands of the Maoists are women's rights, economic equality, and the absolution of the Monarchy [AFP]. In the past week pro-democracy protests have rocked the entire country despite curfews placed by the government. Reporters Without Borders has reported that 94 reporters have been arrested in the past week and 24 have been arrested. Nepalese protesters are also being shot at by riot cops and some have been killed and many more wounded [Al Jazeera]. The situation in Nepal is only getting worse as the King only clamps down with more control.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

UK: British Anti-War Activist Fined for Reading Aloud

Milan Rai (seen above at another demonstration) a author and founder of the British Anti-War group Justice Not Vengeance was put on trial March 16, 2006 for an unauthorized protest. The trial was moved to today and the verdict was a fine of £350. What was he doing to warrant arrest? Reading aloud the names of killed British soldiers from the Iraq war too close to the Cenotaph, a famous war memorial near the British Parliament. The prosecution came due to a new law enacted last year the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which prohibits demonstrations within a kilometer from Parliament without Police consent and six days notice.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ottawa: Activists debate other side of Afghan issue

Yesterday there was a debate in the house on the issue of Afghanistan. To see the different sides of the debate however, activists on the outside made the argument to get out of Afghanistan. Inside the house even left-leaning parties such as the NDP did not come out directly against the mission. The NDP raised some concerns about the mission, but didn't oppose it while only a sparse parliament listened. Yet Canadians are split on the issue activist took this up on the steps despite their lack of support in the house.

The night began by a speech by Benoit of Together Against War - Ensemble Contre la Guerre who outlined some of the major issues in both official languages, but due to a conflict he was largely not heard. The next speaker was Paul Dewar MP Ottawa Centre of the NDP who was introduced by Trevor the main organizer of the event. Paul laid out his major concerns about the lack of democratic debate on this issue and that Canadians are concerned about the issue and that concern should be brought to the house.

Following Mr. Dewar was Meera Karunananthan the media officer from the Council of Canadians. "Shame on you Stephen Harper!" she shouted as she outlined the democratic deficit and a need for a vote on the issue. The Council of Canadians media advisory ends with "Stephen Harper talks about promoting democracy in Afghanistan, yet his minority government's failure to hold a vote on this crucial issue despite widespread public oppostion shows contempt for our own democratic processes." The group is demading a vote in the house of commons on the issue however, some see that a vote may just add legitimacy to a mission as no party is outright opposing it.

The next speaker was Steve Staples from the Polaris Institute. The Polaris Institute has taken on many issues in the past including Balistic Missile Defence which was eventually decided against under the Paul Martin government. Staples talked about the issues of warlords controlling most of the country as well as Canadians possibly becoming complicit in torture by handing over detainees to the Karai government who as well as the United States military have been comiting torture on detainees. After speaking he had to rush into Parliament for the debate on Afghanistan.

Next speaker was myself as a representative of the Students Coalition Against War - Coalition Etudients Contre la Guerre. I began with the issue of not viewing the other side of the debate in the media. I then continued to talk about the lack of democracy due to the recent Decima Research poll which said that half of Canadians opposed the mission, but our Parliamentarians are not. If we do not have democracy how can we say that we can help democracy there. Democracy cannot be put in from above by a outside military power it is a contradition in terms. I then continued on the issue of women's rights which are far from respected. For more information on Afghan women's rights see the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan who CBC on November 19th, 2001 called "... arguably the only crdible voice of Afghan women."

The last speaker was Francine Dumas from Rassemblement Outaouais Contre la Guerre. She was the only french speaker and talked about Decima poll as well which said that 59% of Quebecers oppose the mission as well as that 77% of women do not think that the mission is a good idea. She also brought in the Human Rights Watch reports which year after year since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom have highly criticized the US lead coalition as well as the Afghan government. For Human Rights Watch reports and articles on Afghanistan see here.

The demonstration ended by everyone sitting down in a peace symbol facing parliament. In the circle everyone had candles as the names of the lost soldiers were read out as well as the name of a Afghan civilian who was accidentally killed by Canadian soldiers as a symbolic gesture for all the nameless Afghanis. It was a very powerful image.
Images from Yaya Canada

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Debate on Afghanistan

On monday finally there will be a debate about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. There will be no vote on Afghanistan of course, but this is a step. Would an actual vote on this issue bring about change? Both the Conservatives and Liberals support the mission and together hold a majority. In contrast to the Canadian people whom a Strategic Council report in February stated that Upwards of 62% of Canadians opposed the occupation.

Here are the top ten unreported facts on Afghanistan by the media from Global Research.
Brief Overview:
FACT #1: Jean Chretien & Canadian Corporations Involved in Trans-Afghan Pipeline
FACT #2: Gordon O'Connor, Defence Minister, Is Former Military Lobbyist
FACT #3: Current Afghan Parliament Includes Warlords and Drug Lords
FACT #4: Afghan Warlords Considered Bigger Threat Than Taliban
FACT #5: Afghan Women Face Repression Despite Removal Of Taliban
FACT #6: Elected Afghan Woman Faces Death Threats For Speaking Out
FACT #7: Since the U.S.-led War, Afghanistan Is Increasingly Hooked on Heroin
FACT #8: U.S. And Coalition Forces Using Excessive Force & Arbitrary Detention
FACT #9: Canada Complicit In Violation of Human Rights For 'War On Terror'
FACT #10: U.S. Finds More Oil and Gas Reserves After 4-Year Search

Due to these reasons a protest will happen outside.
Date: Monday April 10th
Time: 6pm
Where: Parliament Hill
What: Speakers and a following candle light vigil

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Ottawa: Bus Riders Union

The rates of transit service in Ottawa is high. How high you may ask? The highest in Canada and rising. The City of Ottawa does not seem to actually care about riders or drivers. I'm a rider so I will focus on riders issues though, drivers certainly have issues that need to be addressed as well.

Riders in Ottawa have seen higher and higher rates for OC Transpo, but I would argue that hasn't panned out into better service. I have been riding OC Transpo for seven years now and though, in some places there is more service, in the places that it is needed the service is if anything declining. Light rail is given as an answer to all problems. Instead we find the O-train barely used, but high in cost, and basically used as a token for being a bigger city. The bus riders are the ones really paying for these trains. Instead of funding better busses, bus riders fund the war profiteers of SNC-Lavalin or Bombardier.

Due to these high prices for an essential service, the anti-poverty collective Under Pressure is organizing a Ottawa Bus Riders Union. BRUs have had moderate sucess in both Los Angeles and Vancouver. Perhaps if people form a union people will actually be able to be proud of OC Transpo as a service for the people instead of being a way to make money.

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Ottawa: Cindy Sheehan

The woman that went from military mother to anti-war radical is coming to Ottawa. She of course has got a lot of media coverage, some of which was extremely disrepectful. However, none of these attacks has stopped her activism. From camp Casey to Caracas she has been spreading a message against war. So, in early May she will be on her way to Ottawa as the next step against governments supporting war. Whether you like her or not it should be an interesting night.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ottawa: Farmers Do Feed Cities

For once I actually agree on an issue with Stephen Harper. In recent statements he adressed that farmers have been neglected and should be cared for. In this I agree, the plight of farmers around the world including in Canada is desperate. There is too much food in the world which supresses prices. This is why farmers are highly susceptable to using crops or products which may be detrimental in the long run including genetically modified organisms and harmful pesticides.

Canadian farmers yesterday protested that extreme inequality using the slogan "Farmers Feed Cities". $6.1 Billion is being asked for by the farmers, but time will tell if they get nearly that much or if it will even make an impact. The farmers have even threatend to interrupt food shipments to cities. Some may think that this is only hurting their cause, but with the net income of farmers at below zero it is no wonder that they may take such measures.

Farmers should be supported, but merely giving them money won't solve the problem, its only treating the symptoms. The free trade policies as well as the consumerifiying of farmers by big business is the root of the problem. Food is a necessity of life and farmers are the producers of that. They should be respected.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Challenge

I am giving everyone a challenge. I have felt a lot of angst lately over the society we all live in. We live in a system of inequality, and injustice. We allow our government to commit acts of terror around the world as well as towards our Native peoples. Everywhere one goes one can see injustice. The system works upon the fundamental suffering of others. The main targets being the people of the South, people of colour, the poor, and of course patriarchy still dominates the world and opresses womyn everywhere. We live in a world where freedom, liberty, and equality are propogated, but we and the other people of the world do not have these. These fundaments of any conception of humanity and dignity of the human spirit are systematically abused by the many states of the world. The challenge I give to everyone is to challenge this system. Taking an escape from physical comfort to experience a spiritual comfort of knowing your challenging injustice. Every generation states impeed on the freedom of their citizens and of others. In response to this, every generation must confront the impediment of freedom. Will you accept my challenge? Will you strive to act?