Rights violations surge after formation of unity government
By: Zim Online, March 30, 2009
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said it recorded more than 430 cases of rights violations in February and warned of simmering political tensions waiting to explode unless a thorough national healing and cleansing process is undertaken. In a report that casts a pale shadow over the sustainability of Zimbabweís fragile coalition government formed last month, the forum said there was a 457 percent surge in the total number of violations against government critics between January and February this year.

Villains and victims in Zimbabwe
By: NY Times, March 29, 2009
Zimbabweís new power-sharing government isnít ideal. Robert Mugabe remains president, despite losing last yearís election. His loyalists remain in charge of the army, the Justice Ministry and other key posts that allow them to arrest and intimidate opponents.

Guyana: The womenís rights campaigner
By: Stabroek News, March 29, 2009
The struggle for womenís liberation in the social, economic and political spheres in Guyana is entrenched in the legacy of former president, Mrs Janet Jagan, who died yesterday morning after decades of an enduring fight for womenís rights.

Protests show Madagascar divides
By: BBC News, March 29, 2009
Supporters of both Madagascar's ousted president and the man who replaced him have held rival demonstrations in the country's capital, Antananarivo. On one side of the city, 30,000 people attended a church ceremony to protest against new leader Andry Rajoelina.

South Africa: Women farmworkers threaten election boycott
By: Davison Makanga, IPS, March 28, 2009
Women from South Africa's three Cape provinces have marched to parliament in Cape Town to denounce the country's "slow and unbalanced" land redistribution programme. The protesters said if they are not given greater access to land, they will not vote in the country's Apr. 22 general elections.

Ethiopia: Why no one speaks out on politics and human rights
By: Mitmita, Pambazuka News, March 27, 2009
Ethiopia has no independent judiciary, no free press, no civil society, and individual liberties have been severely curtailed, so why isn't Meles Zenawi a persona non grata in the international community, asks human rights activist Mitmita.


US: That's no angry mob, it's a movement
By: Michael Winship, Truthout, March 28, 2009
A college friend of mine, after much quaffing from the keg, so to speak, would start singing a faux hymn that began, 'We are sliding into sin - whee!' I've thought of his bleary tune from time to time as we all watched our financial institutions slide from thoughtless, wretched excess into calamity, aided and abetted by deregulation and bailouts, dragging the rest of us along on their speed bump-free ride.

Verdict due for Peru's authoritarian antihero
By: Frank Bajak, AP, March 28, 2009
The man who energetically led Peru back from the brink of economic collapse and crushed a fanatical Maoist insurgency during his 1990s presidency is now a much diminished figure. The once-leonine Alberto Fujimori shuffles wearily in and out of a courtroom, awaiting what most Peruvians believe will be his conviction on murder and kidnapping charges.

Cuba: Independent journalists detained after FIU videoconference  
By: Cuba Study Group, March 27, 2009
Independent journalists taking a course from Florida International University hoped to avoid detention by police this week by leaving the U.S. Interests Section in group, but two of them were detained. State Security agents took Rafael RodrÌguez and Reinier Vera to a police station for questioning on Tuesday, telling them theyíd be released in an hour or so.

US: New professor Chenoweth specializes in the study of violence
By: Beverly Fong, The Wesleyan Argus, March 27, 2009
Few people can say that they have been asked, in all seriousness, for advice on how to overthrow a government. Or that their research was debated in British Parliament. Or that NATO has invited them to give a lecture on the promotion of religious tolerance. Fewer still can say that they accomplished all of this before their thirtieth birthday.

US: Democracy promotion in Obama's reign
By: Richard Gephardt and Vin Weber, Politico, March 26, 2009
Some observers have speculated that the Obama administration will downplay democracy as a foreign policy priority, reacting against the emphasis President George W. Bush placed on a ìfreedom agenda,î which many associate ó rightly or wrongly ó with a policy that sought to impose democracy on foreign countries.   

US criticised over immigrant rights
By: Survivors International Newsfeed, March 2009
Amnesty International has said tens of thousands of people are being held in US immigration jails without receiving a hearing to determine whether their detentions are warranted. About 30,000 immigrants are held on an average day, the rights group said in a report released on Wednesday, triple the number in custody a decade ago.


Burma: Opposition party responds to juntaís call for election participation
By: DVB, March 30, 2009
Burmaís military leader urged political parties last week to participate in the 2010 elections, whilst warning them not to criticise the 2008 constitution, which many claim guarantees a continuation of military rule. Political observers in Burma understood the speech, given during National Arms Day (Tatmadaw Day) on Friday, to be directly aimed at the National League for Democracy, which has been calling for a revision of the constitution.

Burma: Lawyers group requests abolition of Unlawful Association Act
By: DVB, March 30, 2009
A Thailand-based Burmese lawyers group has requested that Burmaís ruling junta abolish the Unlawful Association Act under which many political dissidents have been sentenced to imprisonment. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, the Act has so far been used by the ruling State Peace and Development Council to sentence 365 political activists.

China: British human rights activist jailed in Hong Kong
By: Peter Foster, Telegraph, March 30, 2009
A veteran British human rights activist has been sentenced to six months in a Hong Kong jail after being found guilty of causing a public nuisance while staging a protest against the Chinese government during last summer's Olympics Games.

India: Supporters protest arrest of Gandhi
By: Boston Globe, March 29, 2009
Police in northern India yesterday arrested a great-grandson of the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, over allegations that he made inflammatory comments against Muslims. Police fired in the air and baton-charged a crowd of at least 10,000 of Varun Gandhi's supporters shouting pro-Hindu slogans as he was arrested in his constituency in Uttar Pradesh, a crucial state in the April-May general election. The arrest of Gandhi, 29, a member of India's powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and election candidate for the Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, could be an embarrassment for the party.

Digital civil society campaigns in the 2009 Indian general elections
By: Gaurav Mishra, Global Voices, March 28, 2009
In my first post for the Global Voices special coverage on the 2009 Indian general elections, I had analyzed how Indian politicians and political parties are using internet and mobile tools for election campaigning. In this post, I'll detail how civil society groups in India are using digital tools to run voter registration and transparency campaigns in the run up to the elections.

Grieving parents gain clout in China
By: Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post, March 28, 2009
When Zhao Lianhai created a Web site for parents of children hurt or killed by contaminated milk, he did not set out to challenge the Communist Party. He did it because his son was sick. The 3-year-old had been diagnosed with kidney stones and Zhao was scared. He needed advice.

China: Global digital spy system uncovered by Canadians
By: John Markoff, NY Times, March 28, 2009
A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

China: Free speech with 'grass mud horse'
By: China Digital Times, March 27, 2009
The grass mud horse is hardly the first creature or coded term invented by Chinaís famously vocal netizens but it seems to have caught on in an unprecedented way, said Professor Xiao Qiang of the University of California at Berkeley in the United States, who runs a project monitoring Chinese cyberspace.

China: Beating and detention of petitioner latest in series of Heilongjiang abuses
By: CHRD, March 27, 2009
CHRD learned today the story of Chen Jinxia, a petitioner from Dailing District, Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province, who has suffered nearly two years of arbitrary detention since she was first intercepted on April 24, 2007.  Over the past 23 months, she has been separated from her son, beaten, sent to a Re-education through Labor (RTL) camp, and is now held in a ìblack jailî.

Burma: Monks protest against banning of ceremony
By: DVB, March 27, 2009
Buddhist monks in central Burma have launched a petition to protest against government restrictions that prevent them from freely conducting a traditional Burmese Buddhist ceremony.  Government authorities in Magwe division have imposed strict regulations on Dhamma Talks, where respectable monks pass on the teachings of Buddha and words of wisdom to lay followers, since the monk-led protests in September 2007.

Vietnam: Church protest sentences upheld
By: RFA, March 27, 2009
A Vietnamese court in Hanoi has rejected appeals by eight Roman Catholics convicted of disturbing public order and damaging property during a string of protests demanding the return of land that once belonged to the Church. Judge Nguyen Quoc Hoi upheld the sentences handed down by a lower court in December. Seven of the defendants received suspended sentences ranging from 12 to 15 months, and another received a warning. They all got two years of probation.

China: Uyghur economist silenced
By: RFA, March 26, 2009
Chinese authorities have warned a prominent economist from Chinaís mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority against speaking or writing publicly after he criticized China's handling of his native Xinjiang region, friends and colleagues who have seen him in recent days said.

Detained US journalists moved to North Korean capital as tensions rise
By: Stephen Bates, Guardian, March 24, 2009
Two American journalists arrested last week on the Chinese border have been transferred to the North Korean capital Pyongyang for interrogation, according to reports, as tension mounts over the North's plans to test-fire a long-range rocket next week.


Two years later, Kazakh journalist's disappearance remains a mystery
By: Merhat Sharipzhan, RFE, March 30, 2009
It is now two years since Oralghaisha Omarshanova, a journalist with the Astana-based weekly newspaper "Zakon i pravosudie" (Law and Justice), disappeared shortly after publishing an article focusing on a violent clash two weeks earlier between Chechens and Kazakhs in the villages of Malovodnoye and Kazatkom in southern Kazakhstan.

Azerbaijani youth launches protest action against genocide
By: Trend News, March 30, 2009
Azerbaijani youth will protest the genocide committed by Armenians in Baku on March 31, 1918. "About 15,000 youths will send emails to the Council of Europe, EU parliament, UN, international political organizations and members of foreign parliaments and embassies about the genocide," the Youth and Sport Ministry told Trend News on March 30. On March 31, Azerbaijan marks the Day of the Azerbaijani Genocide.

Kyrgyzstan's democracy on shaky ground
By: Jane Doe, World Politics Review, March 27, 2009
With opposition rallies across Kyrgyzstan planned for today, the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has taken calculated measures to avoid a repetition of the Tulip Revolution that swept his predecessor, Askar Akayev, from power almost four years ago to the day, on March 25, 2005. Disillusionment with the current administration is widespread among political observers and the public at large, and is arguably as strong now as opposition to Akayev was four years ago. But experts predict that the demonstrations will achieve relatively little, even as many worry they may be the last chance for the opposition to make itself heard.

Kyrgyzstan: Opposition rises to challenge president's "criminal politics"
By: Eurasia Net, March 27, 2009
Just about four years after the Central Asian stateís Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan finds itself having returned to "Go." Kyrgyz opposition parties opened the presidential election season with a peaceful protest rally in central Bishkek March 27. Leaders of the United Peopleís Movement warned of creeping authoritarianism in the country, and issued demands for electoral reform and the resignation of the incumbent president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev.


Former Soviet Union: Mapping a new strategy
By: Ludmila Alexeeva and Gregory Shvedov, Washington Post, March 30, 2009
Since the end of Soviet Union, an ill-formed foreign policy apparatus has limited the United States' successes in promoting democracy and helping to create civil societies in the former Soviet states. This lack of success has led some to suggest that the United States should stop trying. But those of us on the front lines of this struggle have one message for our American friends: Don't give up.

Walesa threatens to leave Poland
By: BBC News, March 30, 2009
Polish anti-communist leader Lech Walesa has threatened to leave Poland after a second book accused him of being a communist spy as a young man. The former president and Solidarity leader said he was tired of defending himself against claims he collaborated with the secret police in the 1970s.

Georgia's new unrest led by protest singer
By: Matthew Collin, Guardian, March 29, 2009
Georgia, which fought a disastrous war with Russia over South Ossetia last year, is bracing itself for a political showdown as the opposition tries to oust President Mikheil Saakashvili amid simmering discontent over his role in the conflict.

UK: These protesters are ragged, but don't brush them aside
By: Jackie Ashley, Guardian, March 30, 2009
Some of the media coverage of the London demonstrations at the weekend ahead of the G20 would make you think the whole country had taken to the streets. But, with no disrespect to most of those taking part, the gatherings were an expression of the weakness of the new protest politics, not of its strength. The world's governments have sounded uncertain and confused about the wider meaning of the economic crisis. But so too do the world's marchers.

G20: The protest groups in UK
By: Paddy Allen, Guardian, March 27, 2009
With large numbers expected to protest against the G20 leaders, John Vidal looks at the many disparate groups involved and where they sit on the axes of dissent.


Iran: Open letter on behalf of Shirin Ebadi, now in danger in Tehran
By: Tomas Harrison, The New York Review of Books, March 30, 2009
We are writing to protest in the strongest terms the threats that have been mounted against Shirin Ebadi, cofounder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC)and the Organization for the Defense of Mine Victims. Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace laureate, has spoken out vigorously and repeatedly for women's rights and human rights for all in her own country. She has also been a vocal and effective advocate for peace and against military attacks on Iran in international forums.

Iraq: Teachers union faces threat of government takeover
By: LabourStart, March 30, 2009
The Iraqi Teachers' Union is under attack from the Iraqi Government. The government has authorized an official body to take over the union under the pretext of forcing the union to hold elections. It is worth noting that the ITU has already held several national conferences since 2003 and had elected an ITU leadership openly and democratically.

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood to participate in April 6 strike
By: Yasmine Saleh, Daily News, March 30, 2009
The Muslim Brotherhood announced their participation in the coming April 6 strike, the groupís deputy leader told Daily News Egypt. Mohamed Habib explained that Brotherhood students in different universities will actively participate in the strike. On their part, the groupís leaders and members will issue a statement detailing and analyzing the reasons behind this strike, Habib said.

Egypt releases pro-Palestinian blogger
By: Alexandra Sandels, Manassat, March 30, 2009
The Egyptian authorities have released 22-year-old Egyptian blogger Diaa Eddin Gad after nearly seven weeks in detention, according to an Egyptian human rights group. Gad was arrested on February 6 for criticizing Egypt's policies during Israel's recent war on Gaza.

To boycott IsraelÖor not?
By: Joel Bleifuss, In These Times, March 30, 2009
At the height of the war in Gaza, author Naomi Klein endorsed the campaign known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). A coalition of Palestinian groups founded the BDS movement on July 9, 2005, as a way for the international community to put pressure on Israel to reach a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.

Nonviolent resistance in Palestine
By: Matthew Yglesias, March 28, 2009
The search for the kind of Palestinian non-violent resistance movement that would almost certainly be more effective than all the rockets in the world at forcing Israel to seriously contemplate a just resolution of the Palestinian issue is a bit of a staple of left-wing Jewish thought. But Gershom Gorenberg executes the genre with uncommon verve and affecting power. And perhaps most notably of all, he does it in The Weekly Standard where one isnít accustomed to reading such things.

Iran: Roxana Saberi has warned of a hunger strike
By: IHRV, March 28, 2009
Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi is being held in Evin Prison.  In a telephone contact with her father, Ms. Saberi said that if she is not released, she will start a hunger strike. Mr. Reza Saberi told a Reuterís reporter that he received a call from his daughter from inside prison.  Mr. Saberi spoke about his conversation with his daughter, and said: ìI am very worried.  She expressed a great propensity toward committing suicide.î

General strike call splits up Egyptian opposition
By: Ramadan Al Sherbini, Gulf News, March 27, 2009
Secular and Islamist opposition have reacted differently to a call for a nationwide strike to push for wider reforms in this country of 80 million.  For the second year in a row, the April 6 Youth Movement, a protest group, has launched a call for a general strike on April 6 via the Facebook, the popular social networking website.

Saudi Shiitesí one-word demand
By: Middle East Online, March 27, 2009
According political, socioeconomic, cultural and religious rights to all citizens of Saudi Arabia, free from discrimination and oppression, should be everyoneís concern, says Rannie Amiri.

Tunisia: Dismissed student activists on hunger strike for the right to education
By: Lina Ben Mhenni, Global Voices, March 27, 2009
A total of 158 Tunisians and their friends from around the world went on hunger strike for a day today (March 26) in solidarity with five students who have been on hunger strike since February 11 in Tunisia. The initiative has been orchestrated on a Facebook group [Fr] as a symbolic form of support to the students, who are members of Tunisian Students' Union (UGET), and who have been suspended from university for their activism on campus.

Tunisian president calls criticism "unbecoming"
By: Slim Boukhdir, CPJ, March 26, 2009
During his address to the nation on the anniversary of Tunisia's independence on March 20, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali did not hesitate to reject critical journalism and the right of journalists to cover corruption or mistakes by the government. As customary, local groups concerned with press freedom, including the Tunisian Observatory for Press Freedom and the Tunisian Journalists' Syndicate, hesitated--until Wednesday--to rebut the president's statements.

In Iraq, truth commission idea gains traction
By: Joe Sterling, CNN, March 25, 2009
As Iraqi officials speak loftily of ethnic and political reconciliation, Abu Wissam seethes. He wants cold, hard justice for the killers of his son, Raed, a 25-year-old business school graduate, "cut to pieces" by Mehdi Army militia members in their Baghdad neighborhood. The Wissams are among the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis caught in the maelstrom of the militia violence that rippled across Iraq after the 2006 bombing in Samarra of the Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine.

Will Obama listen to Iran's bloggers?
By: WSJ, March 24, 2009
Barack Obama extended the olive branch to Iran's leaders last Friday in a videotaped message praising a "great civilization" for "accomplishments" that "have earned the respect of the United States and the world." The death of Iranian blogger Omid-Reza Mirsayafi in Tehran's Evin prison two days earlier was, presumably, not among the accomplishments the president had in mind.

Morocco clamps down on Shiites, gays
By: AFP, March 24, 2009
The Moroccan government has begun a clampdown on what it sees as threats to the kingdom's religious and moral foundations, with Shiite Islam and gays particularly targeted. "At stake is the image of the state," Mohamed Darif, an expert on Islamic movements in Morocco, told AFP. "The authorities are seeking to prove that they are still the guarantors of the religious and moral values" of the country.

Saudi Arabia: Modernists vs. Islamic fundamentalists
By: LA Times, March 23, 2009
A verbal row between reformers and hardliners is raging in Saudi Arabia. The kingís recent efforts toward  modernization of this oil-rich, ultra-conservative nation have ruffled the feathers of some uncompromising Saudi clerics.  On Sunday, a group of hard-line clerics exhorted authorities to ban women from appearing on television, newspapers or magazines in a blunt statement that has been catching the public eye today. On the same day, in an unusually bold move, Saudi human-rights groups criticized the countryís religious police, who enjoy wide powers in the kingdom to ensure the application of the strict Wahabi strain of Islam.

Saudi rights group criticizes religious police
By: Donna Abu-Nasr, AP, March 23, 2009
A Saudi human rights groups has strongly criticized the kingdom's religious police, judiciary and security agencies in a new report and called for changing laws that discriminate against women. The report, issued Sunday by the National Society for Human Rights, also urged an end to the marriage of underage girls and demanded a faster pace for judicial reform, including retraining judges. This is the group's second report, since its founding in 2004.;_ylt=AmzKwd0g1pkrKlu.wTn1F30LewgF

US President Obama's video message to Iran: Q&A with Karim Sadjadpour
By: Carnegie Endowment, March 20, 2009
President Obama reached out to the Iranian people and leadership on Friday in a recorded video message on the New Year holiday of Nowruz. In a new Q&A written from Dubai, Carnegieís Karim Sadjadpour discusses the presidentís overture, its likely reception among Iranians, and next steps for U.S. policy makers.

Iran's presidential choice: It could make a big difference
By: The Economist, March 19, 2009
As pictured by its leaders, Iran is striding from strength to strength. The Islamic Revolution that 30 years ago toppled the shah continues to defy the countryís foes, uplift its people and uphold its founding principles. Not only has it made big strides in nuclear technology. Last month it further confounded naysayers by launching a sophisticated rocket bearing its very own small satellite, Safir Omid, or Ambassador Hope, into orbit. Iran must now, declared its ebullient president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be ranked a superpower.


Attempt to shut Fiji newspaper condemned
By: Tamara McLean, The Age, March 30, 2009
Journalists worldwide have condemned calls to shut down Fiji's biggest newspaper because the country's military government finds it "uncooperative". The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for urgent action after a senior official in the country's military regime said he disliked the newspaper and wanted it closed immediately.


The new threat to freedom of expression
By: Paula Schriefer, CSM, March 30, 2009
"In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression ñ everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way ñ everywhere in the world."

Video interview: Vaclav Havel on global crisis, NATO's limits, and democracy promotion
By: RFE, March 27, 2009
Soviet-era dissident, noted humanist, and former Czech President Vaclav Havel visited RFE/RL's new broadcasting headquarters in Prague on March 27. Havel, who played a key role in bringing RFE/RL to the Czech Republic in 1995, sat down for an interview with senior correspondent Jeremy Bransten.

Proliferated democracy may give chance to militancy in gaining strength
By: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, Global Politician, March 27, 2009
In todayís world, the democracy stands for an atmosphere, where governments are elected by people with the mission of serving the country and the nation as well as doing everything for the betterment of the society while being completely loyal to countryís independence and sovereignty.

The US can promote democracy, smartly
By: Dima Toukan, Daily Star, March 23, 2009
There are several levels of discussion when it comes to democracy promotion in the Middle East. On one level, there is the current debate between icons of American think tanks and policy practitioners on whether post-George W. Bush America should in fact continue supporting democracy promotion in the region, and whether such support should extend to Islamists. On another more micro level, there is the question of what to support, and how to support it.


Civil Resistance and Power Politics
By: Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, eds., Oxford University Press
Civil resistance - non-violent action against such challenges as dictatorial rule, racial discrimination and foreign military occupation - is a highly significant but inadequately understood feature of world politics. Especially through the peaceful revolutions of 1989, it has helped to shape the world we live in.


Break the silence, stop the forced evictions and restore the right to housing in Nigeria
By: Statement of the International Alliance of Inhabitants
We, inhabitantsí associations, international networks, voluntary groups, NGOs, public agencies, citizens of the world, express our indignation at and denounce the massive forced evictions of more than one million of people carried out from June 2008 and still in progress in Port Harcourt by the Government of Rivers State (Nigeria).
For details: