Why activism still matters for Sudan...and what you can do
By: John Prendergast and John Bagwell, enough!, March 16, 2009
The Obama administration offers a fresh opportunity for the United States to meaningfully engage in an effort to bring peace to Sudan at a time when the stakes have never been higher. Nevertheless, policymakers still need the collective voice of activists to keep the conflict high on their agendas and to generate public support for making tough decisions.

Kenya rights groups complain of being threatened
By: Katharine Houreld, AP, March 14, 2009
Government anger over a U.N. report accusing it of running deaths squads in Kenya has led to threats against members of human rights groups and some have gone into hiding, activists said Saturday. Two activists who provided information in February to the author of the report, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, were shot and killed hours after they were denounced by a Kenyan government spokesman, but it is unclear whether the deaths were linked to their work.


Guatemala: Opposition to mining operations
By: Renata Avila, Global Voices, March 15, 2009
A recent BBC story reported on skin infections showing up in several indigenous communities in Guatemala. Many from the community and other activists are placing blame on the Canadian open-pit mining company, Goldcorp for the health problems. These new findings are the latest in a series of arguments about the negative effects of mining. Bloggers have joined the online debate that say that mining is damaging and dangerous for local communities and the environment.

US: The ballad of Joe Arpaio
By: Lawrence Downes, NY Times, March 15, 2009
Saul Linares, a factory worker from Hempstead, N.Y., sat down at dinner on Feb. 7 with pen, paper and a story to tell. Then he did what similarly equipped Mexicans have done since the 1800ís. He wrote a corrido. ìIn the left hand I was eating, and with my right hand I was writing it down,î he said. He was done in 20 minutes. Mr. Linares was on a weekend retreat for immigrant-rights organizers in Rye, N.Y. After work on Saturday they took a break for a ìcultural nightî of poems, songs and stories.

US: Immigrants face detentions, few rights
By: Michelle Roberts, AP, March 15, 2009
America's detention system for immigrants has mushroomed in the last decade, a costly building boom that was supposed to sweep up criminals and ensure that undocumented immigrants were quickly shown the door.  Instead, an Associated Press computer analysis of every person being held on a recent Sunday night shows that most did not have a criminal record and many were not about to leave the country - voluntarily or via deportation.

US: Democracy's appeal
By: Washington Post, March 15, 2009
It is sometimes supposed that the Bush administration's push for democracy in the Middle East was invented in Washington and imposed, sometimes with force, on a resistant or indifferent region. In fact, the groundswell for democratic change in Arab states and the broader Islamic world began before the turn of the century and continued growing even after President George W. Bush's second-term State Department mostly abandoned the cause. That's been demonstrated recently in a couple of extraordinary appeals to the Obama administration.

Gender advance in Venezuela: A two-pronged affair
By: George Gabriel, Open Democracy, March 13, 2009
Though the last decade of Hugo Ch·vez's "socialist democratic" government has never been far from the media spotlight, key elements of the proclaimed Bolivarian process have been overlooked: chiefly the struggle for female emancipation. Yet these ten years have seen Venezuelan patriarchy increasingly challenged from both above and below, by rising tides of female participation and a new swathe of innovative institutions.

Peru: ëMy father was killed for reporting on rights abusesí
By: ¡ngel P·ez, IPS, March 12, 2009
"I became a journalist to find out how they killed my father, to discover where his body is, and to take those responsible for his death to court," Boris Ayala told IPS. "I am not going to rest until I find out the whole truth."  Ayala hopes the remains of his father, Jaime, will be found in the mass grave that forensic experts are exhuming in the cemetery in Huanta, a town in Peruís southern highlands. His father, a journalist like himself, was seized by the military in 1984 and never heard from again.


Burma:  Free political prisoners campaign picks up
By: Marwaan Macan-Markar, IPS, March 16, 2009
It is a photograph from happier times. Nilar Thein and her husband Kyaw Min Yu look relaxed and free. They both sport warm smiles. Kyaw Min Yu, or ëJimmyí, is carrying the coupleís baby daughter. But it was a brief spark of happiness for the Burmese couple. They are paying a hevy price for being in the vanguard of the countryís pro-democracy struggle, challenging the oppressive grip of the ruling military regime.

Police deployed to quell activity on Burma Human Rights Day
By: DVB, March 16, 2009
Security was tight in Burmaís former capital and economic hub Rangoon last Friday as overseas Burmese democracy activists marked the 21-year anniversary of the countryís Human Rights Day. The event coincides with the anniversary of the death of Rangoon Institute of Technology student Phone Maw, shot by government soldiers during a protest in 1988. It was this incident that became a key trigger of the 1988 nationwide uprising.

Burma's bullies
By: Washington Post, March 15, 2009
The cruelest dictatorships, like the most ruthless criminal gangs, always have understood that the most effective way to deter opposition is to go after the innocent loved ones of potential enemies. Thus it was not enough for Gen. Than Shwe and his junta in the Southeast Asian nation of Burma (also known as Myanmar) to sentence the Buddhist monk U Gambira to prison for 68 years last fall. It was learned last week that his brother, his brother-in-law and four cousins have been sentenced to five years in Burma's gloomy prisons. We hope that this small piece of data is fed into the review of U.S. policy on Burma that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has promised.

China tightens grip as Tibet revolt hits 50-year mark
By: Maureen Fans, Washington Post, March 15, 2009
First came the armed checkpoints. Next, China Mobile sent word to customers in Tibet that text messaging would be interrupted for nearly two months. By Tuesday, police armed with guns containing rubber bullets stopped buses traveling to the capital of a Tibetan prefecture in Qinghai province, checked passengers' bags, questioned monks and berated drivers who carried foreigners.

China: The heights traveled to subdue Tibet
By: Edward Wong, NY Times, March 14, 2009
The paramilitary officer took our passports. It was close to midnight, and he and a half-dozen peers at the checkpoint stood around our car on the snowy mountain road. After five days, our travels in the Tibetan regions of western China had come to an abrupt end.

Two Chinese dissidents freed after years in prison
By: Andrew Jacobs, NY Times, March 13, 2009
The day after he was released from Beijing No. 2 Prison, Yang Zili sat down at a McDonaldís and, over a cup of Sprite, tried to make sense of his life. After eight years in prison on charges that an informal political discussion group he organized in 2000 was seeking to overthrow the Communist Party, the intellectual seemed dazed by his new freedom, his youthful exuberance sapped by years of detention, the occasional smile quickly subsumed by melancholy.

Tibet: Man in the news, The Dalai Lama
By: Geoff Dyer, Financial Times, March 13, 2009
It started with, of all things, an invitation to watch a Hungarian dance troupe. A Chinese general stationed in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in 1959 asked the Dalai Lama to the performance but insisted he come without bodyguards. As rumours spread that the then 23-year-old monk would be kidnapped, Tibetans thronged the streets and anti-Beijing protests soon erupted. Fearing a brutal crackdown if he supported the rebellion and impotence if he opposed it, the Dalai Lama chose exile after consulting with Nechung, the state oracle. He slipped out dressed as a soldier for the long Himalayan trek to India.

Chinese dissident's family defects
By: RFA, March 12, 2009
The wife and children of a top civil rights lawyer under close surveillance by the Chinese authorities have arrived in the United States after walking across the border to Thailand, Gao Zhishengís wife Geng He said. Geng said her daughter, 15, and son, 5, had suffered ìgreat hardshipî in China from living under virtual house arrest in their Beijing home.

A dirty pun tweaks Chinaís online censors
By: Michael Wines, NY Times, March 11, 2009
Since its first unheralded appearance in January on a Chinese Web page, the grass-mud horse has become nothing less than a phenomenon. A YouTube childrenís song about the beast has drawn nearly 1.4 million viewers. A grass-mud horse cartoon has logged a quarter million more views. A nature documentary on its habits attracted 180,000 more. Stores are selling grass-mud horse dolls. Chinese intellectuals are writing treatises on the grass-mud horseís social importance. The story of the grass-mud horseís struggle against the evil river crab has spread far and wide across the Chinese online community.


Bulgaria: Police engage in mass protests in Sofia
By: Rene Beekman, Sofia Echo, March 15, 2009
On March 15 2009, Bulgarian police protested in the center of Sofia for fourth time in what became the largest protest so far. Police protested over demands for a 50 per cent wage increase and improved working conditions.

Ukraine is used to life on the edge. Is this the year it slips over?
By: Brian Whitmore, RFE, March 15, 2009
Not long ago, Andriy Lalak was treated like one of BM Bank's most valued customers. But when he shows up there now, employees avoid him like the plague. For over a month, Lalak has been trying unsuccessfully to withdraw 100,000 hryvnyas ($11,700) from his account, money he says he needs to expand the small trading company he runs in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.


Report of fact-finding mission in Afghanistan : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
By: RSF, March 16, 2009
Respect for press freedom has fallen sharply in recent weeks in Afghanistan. The murder of Jawed Ahmad, a stringer for various Canadian news media, in Kandahar, the newspaper Paymanís closure as a result of pressure from conservatives and the government, and the supreme courtís confirmation of Perwiz Kambakhshís 20-year jail sentence are all evidence that press freedom is in serious crisis.

Kifaya: The rise and fall in Egypt
By: DEDI, March 16, 2009
The Egyptian Movement for Change came into being in the summer of 2004. The movement which from its early days was more widely known as Kifaya (meaning ìenoughî in Arabic) is best characterized as a political protest movement. Soon after Kifaya came into being, it became known for crossing political red lines with unprecedented boldness.

Jubilation in streets of Pakistan erupts in a word: 'Justice'
By: Sabrina Tavernise, IHT, March 16, 2009
It was a day of rejoicing, of drum playing and of smiling at strangers. Pakistan's chief justice had just been reinstated after a two-year struggle, and for those assembled in the country's capital to celebrate, anything seemed possible. "We're watching history," said Javed Ali Khan, who had traveled for days with his wife and six children to participate in a national march on the capital called by the opposition. It was the opposition's perseverance in the face of government attempts to quash the march that led to the reinstatement.

Protesters savor victory in Pakistan
By: Laura King, LA Times, March 16, 2009
Averting what could have been a bloody showdown at the gates of the capital, Pakistan's government today capitulated to protesters' demands to reinstate the popular chief justice, reshaping the political landscape in a country crucial to the West's battle with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.,0,3526419.story

Iran issue no. 1
By: Mariam Memarsadeghi and Akbar Atri, Washington Post, March 16, 2009
We are democracy activists who are passionate about our home country, Iran. One of us, Mariam, immigrated to the United States at age 7, during the 1979 revolution. The other, Akbar, arrived here in 2005 after a decade of leadership in Iran's oppressed but resilient student movement. Newlyweds, our love is bound by a passion for freedom, and we hold the highest esteem for America and its ideals of individual rights and human dignity.

Reform candidate withdraws in Iran
By: Nazila Fathi, NY Times, March 16, 2009
Reversing a decision made five weeks ago, Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, has decided to withdraw from the June presidential race to support a political ally, close aides said Monday.

Iran: In defence of the Bah·'Ì minority
By: Hamid Tehrani, March 15, 2009
The Bah·'Ì minority in Iran has long been under pressure, and it seems the situation has become worse. Iranian authorities recently accused seven leaders of the Bah·'Ì faith of espionage. The Bah·'Ì themselves say they are being persecuted because of their religion.

Why did Iran unblock Facebook?
By: Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE, March 14, 2009
Farid Hashemi's latest "status update" on his Facebook page says a lot about his state of mind. "It's better to be born as a dog in a democracy than to be a human in a dictatorship," he writes. Twenty-eight-year-old Hashemi is a senior member of Iran's largest pro-reform student group, Daftar Tahkim Vahdat, which is a regular target of pressure from the state. He is also one of the thousands of Iranians who use Facebook to stay in touch with friends, share photos, and exchange views and information.

Egypt: Two bloggers were tortured during detention
By: Global Voices, March 14, 2009
Two bloggers were separately tortured in Egyptian State Security headquarters. One of them is now released, while the other has been receiving treatment in prison. blogger Mohamed Adel told an independent local newspaper that he was subjected to torture by the State security agents during the first 17 days of his detention.

UAE acts on calls for human rights laws
By: Zoi Constantine, The National, March 13, 2009
The Government has adopted 36 out of 74 human rights recommendations made through the UN, while rejecting 30 others ahead of a planned hearing before the UNís Human Rights Council in Geneva next week.
The Minister of State for Foreign and Federal National Council (FNC) Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, will again stand before the UNís Human Rights Council, and representatives from NGOs will be able be given an opportunity to raise issues of concern.

The Middle East: Reporters under fire
By: Charles Tripp, Open Democracy, March 12, 2009
The murder of three journalists and their driver in the city of Mosul in September 2008 is a reminder of the mortal danger faced by journalists and their support-staff in Iraq. The death of the four employees of Al-Sharqiya TV station while they were filming an innocuous show in celebration of iftar added to the toll of journalists killed in Iraq since 2003; by February 2009 this had reached 169, in addition to the fifty-five media workers (drivers, interpreters, technical support) who have lost their lives. The great majority, like the Al-Sharqiya crew, have been murdered by Iraqi insurgents or other militias, while a substantial number were killed in crossfire or died as a result of military action by American forces.

A year later, a Saudi woman still waits to drive legally
By: Robert Mackey, The Lede, March 12, 2009
One year ago*, when Wajeha al-Huwaider, a Saudi womenís rights activist, got behind the wheel of a car in Saudi Arabia and drove it, for at least one minute, along a public highway, she knew that she was breaking the Saudi law that bars women from driving the kingdomís roads. But Ms. Huwaider hoped that her act of civil disobedience ó which was recorded on videotape from the front seat of the car, and posted on YouTube to mark International Womenís Day ó would have a concrete result.

Yemenis fight taboos, corruption with investigative journalism
By: Magda Abu-Fadil, The Huffington Post, March 12, 2009
Yemen is on an anti-corruption kick with journalists acquiring investigative skills and women slated to become the next Woodwards and Bernsteins, given their spunk and enthusiasm for such work, albeit within their own modest context. ensitive subjects in a conservative patriarchal society and lurking dangers seemed no deterrent to a group of women journalists in a workshop meant to steel them for the rigors ahead.

Mideast: Home demolitions threaten peace talks
By: Mel Frykberg, IPS, March 12, 2009
Eight months pregnant Shireen Abu Sbeh, 20, mother of a two-year-old, lives with eight other people in a two-bedroom apartment that is on a list of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to be demolished by the Israeli authorities.

Iran: No cake for Iranian women on their day
By: Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices, March 11, 2009
Although the Iranian government does not recognize the International Women's Day and has banned women activists from organizing gatherings and demonstrations to commemorate the day for the previous 30 years, Iranian bloggers and women activists remembered the 8th of March, honouring women in Iran and the rest of the world.

Saudi court sentences 75-year-old woman to lashes
By: Maggie Michael, AP, March 9, 2009
A 75-year-old widow in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in jail for mingling with two young men who are not close relatives, drawing new criticism for the kingdom's ultraconservative religious police and judiciary.

Papua's struggle for independence
By: Rachel Harvey, BBC News, March 14, 2009
The word most often associated with West Papua is remote. Culturally it feels even further.  Papua became part of Indonesia in 1969 after a controversial and very limited vote. Ever since there have been calls from some Papuans for independence and for decades a low-level armed resistance has been rumbling on, largely unnoticed by the outside.

West Papua: Papuans rally in call for a referendum
By: Free West Papua, March 11, 2009
Several hundred Papuans, rallying in the name of the National Action Committee of the West Papuan People took to the streets in Jayapura on Wednesday, calling for a referendum on Papua's right to independence.


The inspectors of democracy
By: Rodrigo de Almeida, Open Democracy, March 16, 2009
The project and the idea of expanding democracy across the globe are at a delicate point as the first decade of the 21st century nears its end. Much of the momentum of the post-cold-war period that sustained them through the 1990s and beyond appears to have stalled under the pressures of the "war on terror", authoritarian resurgence, and institutional failures. As a result, many scholars and experts have started to worry that the notion of democracy support is in crisis and needs to be rethought or at least revised (see, for example, Larry Diamond, "The Democratic Rollback", Foreign Affairs, March-April 2008).

Going, going, gone: Legacy of Gandhi
By: J. Sri Raman, Truthout, March 13, 2009
As the hammer came down at an international auction in New York on March 5 and a poor, long-deceased Indian's possessions were declared 'sold,' a collective sigh was certainly heard across his country. Opinion, however, is divided on the source of the deep sigh.

Major banks supporting corrupt regimes
By: One World, March 13, 2009
Some of the world's biggest banks are doing business with corrupt regimes, facilitating state looting and human rights abuses and keeping the world's poorest poor, according to a new report.

Muslim women try to shatter the "glass minaret"
By: Aisha Gawad, Inter Press Service, March 12, 2009
It's Ramadan, and Sara Elghobashy and a group of her women friends, having broken their fast, are looking for a mosque where they can hear the recitation of Koran. 'We could go to Medina,' said one, suggesting a mosque nearby, in New York's East Village. 'No, don't go to Medina. They don't like women there,' Elghobashy says, and laughs loudly. There is an awkward silence. The other girls blink and change the subject. Elghobashy doesn't really think mosques' treatment of women as second-class citizens is funny. In fact, she finds it absurd and depressing - but also motivating.

Tactic: ìCyberelaî bridges digital divide
By: Talia Whyte, DigiActive, March 11, 2009
As activists around the world celebrated International Womenís Day this week, this is a great opportunity to highlight the progress and barriers women and girls still face around the world. In the tech world, women are still disproportionately affected by the digital divide ñ the lack of economic and educational opportunities to access the Internet and other communication tools. However, there are many organizations around the world that are charged to close the gap. One group is using new media along with radio to do this.


Omar el BÈchir de nouveau inquiÈtÈ pour gÈnocide ?
By: Jeune Afrique, March 14, 2009
Le procureur gÈnÈral de la Cour pÈnale internationale souhaite faire appel afin quíun mandat díarrÍt pour gÈnocide soit Èmis contre le prÈsident soudanais. Luis Moreno-Ocampo avait obtenu dÈbut mars un mandat pour crimes de guerre et crimes contre líhumanitÈ. Le chef díaccusation de gÈnocide níavait pas ÈtÈ retenu, faute de preuves.


Be a voice for peace in Colombia - April 20, 2009 National Day of Action for Colombia
By: Fellowship of Reconciliation Colombia Program
On Monday, April 20 people in a half-dozen cities across the US will creatively and publicly present 4000 paper cut-out dolls, each one representing 1000 of Colombia's four million displaced people, to governmental representatives. These symbolic actions, intended to raise the profile of Colombia's crisis, will take place in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.