Category Archives: FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

CONGO issues statement ahead of United Nations 75th anniversary

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations

President Liberato Bautista of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) will be holding presidential briefings in Geneva, Vienna and New York this December.

The briefings will focus on CoNGO’s Declaration on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. This thoughtful and challenging document was adopted by the CoNGO Board when it met in Geneva this past October.

The Declaration was a product of intense consultations involving many CoNGO members and leaders of CoNGO Substantive Committees worldwide. 

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

The Declaration honors the United Nations System as the essential multilateral mechanism that the world needs to mobilize, coordinate and manage solutions to the planet’s ”Problems without Borders”.

CoNGO calls for the 75th Anniversary to be the occasion for the United Nations System to be strengthened, better structured, better used by governments,  and considerably better financed.

CoNGO calls for the UN System to make greater use of the competence and experience of NGOs and the broader Civil Society as essential partners in ensuring a peaceful and just world built upon achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

President Bautista will hold these Presidential B riefing s to expound upon the Declaration, and to seek further input and participation in conveying the central messages to Civil Society worldwide, to all governments, to all elements and entities of the UN System, and to the people of the planet.

President Bautista will make use of the occasion to discuss CoNGO’s invitation to other NGO and civil society groups with similar initiatives of revisiting the 75 years of the UN and proposing visions of the “world we need”, the world we want” and the UN that is responsive, accountable and well-funded to meet these needs and wants.

Bautista hopes for the development of he calls “CS75 at UN75”. These 75 unities that will be developed through NGO and civil society consultations will be short statements on agreed issues and concerns that shall be conveyed to all entities within the UN System and its member states as the UN approaches its 75th anniversary next year and plan for the years ahead.

The CoNGO Declaration is for use throughout the whole Anniversary Year, and in all UN and Civil Society fora. It is available in EnglishFrench  and Spanish  versions.

Your presence and active participation in any of these three  briefings is most welcome.

A Brutal Violation of Press Freedom’: Glenn Greenwald Targeted With Investigation by Brazilian Government After Reporting on Corruption

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Common Dreams (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

The Brazilian government is targeting one of its biggest critics, journalist Glenn Greenwald, in a move that has been decried by observers as an intimidation tactic designed to stifle opposition to right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro. 


Glenn Greenwald, founder and editor of The Intercept, gestures during a hearing at the Lower House’s Human Rights Commission in Brasilia, Brazil, on June 25, 2019. (Photo: Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)

The government’s finance ministry’s money laundering unit was asked by federal police to investigate Greenwald’s finances, O Antagonista  reported  Tuesday. The right-wing Brazilian news site said that the investigation would focus on whether Greenwald paid for access to leaked records he used in reporting on the Bolsonaro government’s “Operation Car Wash” sting. 

“If there is an investigation for doing journalism it is illegal and it is an attempt at intimidation,” University of Sao Paulo law professor Pierpaolo Bottini told  The Guardian.

Attacks on Greenwald and his family, including husband David Miranda, a member of Brazil’s Congress, were criticized by U.N. and Organization of American States (OAS) Edison Lanza and David Kaye. In a joint press release, Lanza and Kaye called on  Brazil “to conduct an exhaustive, effective, and impartial investigation on the threats against the journalist and his family.”

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

“The Special Rapporteurs remind the Brazilian State that it has an obligation to prevent, protect, investigate, and punish violence against journalists, particularly those who have been subjected to harassment and threats or other acts of violence,” the rapporteurs’ statement said.

Greenwald, co-founder of independent news organization The Intercept, published in the online magazine’s Brazilian edition a number of investigations that use leaked documents to prove that the prosecution of former President Lula da Silva for corruption was steered by now Justice Minister Sergio Moro. The reporting has impacted Brazil’s politics and thrown the Bolsonaro presidency into crisis. 

Given the impact of the reporting, said José Guimarães, a congressman who is a member of da Silva’s Workers’ Party, the investigation appears to be “a brutal violation of press freedom.”

That point was echoed by Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. In a statement, Timm said  that an investigation into Greenwald would be “not only an outrageous attack on press freedom, but a gross abuse of power.”

“Criminally investigating journalist Glenn Greenwald for reporting on corruption within the Bolsonaro government is a shocking violation of his rights as a reporter,” Timm said. “Worse, the same person who is the primary subject of The Intercept’s reporting—Minister of Justice Sergio Moro—would also have ultimate authority over any Federal Police investigation.”

The fallout from Greenwald’s reporting is having a major affect on Brazilian politics. On Tuesday, Moro appeared in front of the Brazilian Congress to answer questions on “Operation Car Wash” in a hearing that devolved at one point into near-violence. 

Greenwald, who spoke to the lower house of Brazil’s Congress about his reporting in June, was invited this week to testify  in front of the Brazilian Senate. A date for that testimony has yet to be set.

Humanitarian community praise Sudan PM’s visit to Nuba Mtns

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Radio Dabanga

In a statement today, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, who was part of the international delegation, that accompanied Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on his historic visit to Kauda yesterday commended the spirit of cooperation between the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N that resulted in this historic visit.


Sudan’s PM Hamdok and SPLM-N head Abdelaziz El Hilu share a joke
during the visit to Kauda yesterday [January 9] (RD)

“It comes following the Sudanese government’s commitment to allow unfettered humanitarian access to all areas of the country.”

Son is further encouraged that the SPLM-N El Hilu is open to the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all areas under their control in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

“The United Nations stands ready to deliver assistance to people in need in all areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states,” Son said.

(Article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:

 

Can peace be achieved in South Sudan?

(Article continued from left column)

While in Kauda, the delegation visited schools where humanitarian organisations are implementing a school feeding programme – a top priority identified following an assessment in the end of December 2019. School supplies for 800 children were also delivered as well as non-food items, Son’s statement says

Sudan INGOs Steering Committee

The Sudan INGOs Steering Committee – a coordination mechanism that includes all international non-governmental organisations aiming to coordinate with government, UN agencies, and other actors – has welcomed the initiative of PM Hamdok’s visit to Kauda.

In a press statement yesterday, the committee said: “The visit comes at critical juncture of Sudanese history and [represents a] brave turn in the path of confidence and trust building that contributes to lasting peace and stability in Sudan, equitable treatment of Sudanese people, and respect for their human rights.

“Since the eruption of conflict in South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains) and Blue Nile in 2011, areas under the control of SPLM-N suffered a humanitarian siege by the previous regime that led to worsening of the humanitarian situation and increasing the suffering of the Sudanese citizens in these areas.”

The committee says that PM Hamdok’s visit “opens new windows for humanitarian and development organisations to start their programs and activities in those areas to relieve suffering of war affected people, and participate in moving towards long term developmental programs as a building block for sustained and long lasting peace.”

The committee says it “appreciates the courage and brave actions of the Sudanese leaders both of the transitional government and SPLM-N for taking this step which will also open a window for social peace and healing of the social cohesion and fabric teared by war.”

USA: Sanders and Khanna Introduce New Bill to ‘Stop Donald Trump From Illegally Taking Us to War Against Iran’

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Jake Johnson in Common Dreams (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna Friday night unveiled new legislation that would bar any Pentagon funding for “military force in or against Iran” without congressional approval, an effort to forestall what many in the U.S., Middle East, and around the world fear is a march to war by the Trump administration.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)  and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

“Today, we are seeing a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East,” Khanna and Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in a joint statement. “A war with Iran could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars and lead to even more deaths, more conflict, more displacement in that already highly volatile region of the world.”

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

Sanders and Khanna criticized their fellow members of Congress for handing President Donald Trump a $738 billion military budget that did not include any safeguards against a war with Iran. An amendment sponsored by Khanna and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was approved by the House last year, but the measure was stripped out of the final budget in bipartisan negotiations.

“Congress now has an opportunity to change course,” Sanders and Khanna said. “Our legislation blocks Pentagon funding for any unilateral actions this president takes to wage war against Iran without Congressional authorization.”

“We know that it will ultimately be the children of working-class families who will have to fight and die in a new Middle East conflict—not the children of the billionaire class,” the lawmakers added. “At a time when we face the urgent need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, to build the housing we desperately need, and to address the existential crisis of climate change, we as a nation must get our priorities right.”

In an interview on MSNBC Friday night, Khanna called on the House of Representatives to take up his and Sanders’ legislation as its first order of business when it returns from recess next week.

Sanders and Khanna’s legislation came just 24 hours after the U.S. assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike ordered by Trump.

Soleimani’s assassination sparked enormous protests in Iran and outrage from U.S. progressives, who warned the strike could result in a catastrophic regional—or even global—conflict.

“Right now is the moment to decide if you are pro-peace or not,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted Friday. “The cheerleaders of war, removed from its true cost, will gladly convince you that up is down—just as they did in Iraq in ’03. But war does not establish peace. War does not create security. War endangers us all.”

Mainstream media silence on OPCW Douma scandal ‘ridiculous’, says journalist gagged by Newsweek after scandalous leak

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from RT news dated 28 December

The refusal of almost every Western media outlet to cover the leaks [published by Wikileaks] implicating the chemical weapons watchdog of doctoring its Syria report has become ridiculous, says a journalist who was barred from reporting it by Newsweek.


A damaged house where OPCW inspectors are believed to have visited in Douma in April 2018. ©REUTERS / Ali Hashisho

The refusal of almost every Western media outlet to cover the leaks [published by Wikileaks] implicating the chemical weapons watchdog of doctoring its Syria report has become ridiculous, says a journalist who was barred from reporting it by Newsweek.

“These documents are very conclusive in what they show,” Tareq Haddad told RT after the latest release of internal emails from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Friday. The latest batch indicated an effort by the OPCW management to silence dissenting voices and cover up the very fact that there was evidence contradicting the West-favored narrative about the April 2018 incident in Douma, Syria.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

The OPCW report stopped short of accusing the government of President Bashar Assad of dropping chemical weapons on the Damascus neighborhood, which was held by jihadists at the time, and killing scores of civilians. It gave a post-factum rationale for airstrikes conducted by the US, the UK and France in the wake of the incident.

He told RT the point when the story could be legitimately reported came several weeks ago, so the continued media obfuscation “has reached the point where it’s a bit ridiculous,” and amounts to abdication of responsibility to inform the public.

“I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of well-meaning journalists, who understand what the essence of journalism is. I am sure they want to write this story,” he said. “All I can say is: please, push this story. Even though I have resigned I don’t want the mainstream media to be dismissed as ‘fake news’. I want it to be respected.”

[Editor’s note: As of 31 December, a search in Google reveals many Internet publications have referred to the reports published in Twitter by Wikileaks about the OPCW cover-up. These include publications based in Russia, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Portugal, as well as numerous alternative media (but no major commercial media) based in the UK, Canada and USA.]

UN committee adopts youth resolution on disarmament and non-proliferation

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Marzhan Nurzhan in the Astana Times

The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly at its recent 74th session adopted the resolution Youth, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

The resolution recognises the role of young people as key agents for social change and acknowledges the positive contributions of youth engagement to sustainable peace and security.

There were two resolutions previously adopted by the United Nations Security Council highlighting the importance of engaging youth in processes related to peace and security:  resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security, and resolution 2419 (2018) on the role of youth in peace negotiations and implementing peace agreements.

Furthermore, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a non-paper entitled Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament, where the role of young people as drivers of change was emphasised, along with the need for sustainability and long-term engagement of youth and further investment in disarmament education. Inequalities connected with geographical location of youth coming from developing countries can limit access or create barriers towards representative participation in the international opportunities in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Despite these challenges, young people are open to new experiences, use creativity to generate novel ideas, have enduring energy, pursue high levels of cooperation and regard themselves as world citizens standing up for one planet. They believe in a common future and simultaneously seek opportunity for actions at local and national levels. Young people can be identified as more inclusive, cosmopolitan, with solution-oriented mindsets. They also promote impactful activities that affect the well-being of everyone.

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

Climate change is now included as mandatory subject in formal learning process in Italy. This could serve as an example to follow by incorporating the theme of disarmament and non-proliferation in public education. However, non-formal education and online courses have changed the way we obtain, apply, and disseminate knowledge. These approaches have also altered practice we reach out to young people worldwide, especially in the specific area of disarmament and non-proliferation. It is important to raise awareness about the history of nuclear testing and humanitarian consequences, which is mainly associated with the Cold War. For that reason, fostering intergenerational cooperation and promoting peer-to-peer distribution of information, knowledge and skills are crucial.

Thus, the resolution “stresses the importance of realizing the full potential of young people through education and capacity-building, bearing in mind the ongoing efforts and the need to promote the sustainable entry of young people into the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.”

Therefore, CTBTO Youth Group (CYG) prior to the adoption of the resolution established this network to involve youth in a constructive and inclusive manner, considering regional balance. CYG equips next generation with extra-curricular education, such as e-learning modules  about the CTBT and its verification regime. In addition, CYG portal provides supplementary lists of educational resources  that comprise not only information about nuclear issues but also other weapons of mass destruction. CYG members have opportunity to participate in a meaningful way at the various international events, in particular the Science and Technology conference series and the Science Diplomacy Symposia. At these events, CYG members can enjoy mentorship networks with GEM filling the generational gap in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Empowering youth through education means promoting leadership and courage to build presence and future we want without nuclear tests and explosions. Research and development of innovative initiatives can lead to the transformative changes for global peace and security through science and diplomacy with the direct impact and influence of actions  conducted by young people. With the adoption of the resolution Youth, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, it re-affirms work and endeavour of the CTBTO Youth Group and serves as an impetus for even more youth engagement to finish what we started.

Full text of the resolution is available at https://undocs.org/en/A/C.1/74/L.48

List of educational resources: https://youthgroup.ctbto.org/node/2237

The author is an intern, External Relations, Protocol and International Cooperation Section, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO). This opinion first appeared at CTBTO Youth Group website here.

[Editor’s note: The resolution was drafted by South Korea.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the 53rd World Day of Peace, January 1, 2020

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION .      

A transcript from the Vatican

Peace As A Journey Of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation And Ecological Conversion
 
1. Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial

Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. As a human attitude, our hope for peace is marked by an existential tension that makes it possible for the present, with all its difficulties, to be “lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.  Hope is thus the virtue that inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.

Our human community bears, in its memory and its flesh, the scars of ever more devastating wars and conflicts that affect especially the poor and the vulnerable. Entire nations find it difficult to break free of the chains of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence. Even today, dignity, physical integrity, freedom, including religious freedom, communal solidarity and hope in the future are denied to great numbers of men and women, young and old. Many are the innocent victims of painful humiliation and exclusion, sorrow and injustice, to say nothing of the trauma born of systematic attacks on their people and their loved ones.

The terrible trials of internal and international conflicts, often aggravated by ruthless acts of violence, have an enduring effect on the body and soul of humanity. Every war is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.

War, as we know, often begins with the inability to accept the diversity of others, which then fosters attitudes of aggrandizement and domination born of selfishness and pride, hatred and the desire to caricature, exclude and even destroy the other. War is fueled by a perversion of relationships, by hegemonic ambitions, by abuses of power, by fear of others and by seeing diversity as an obstacle. And these, in turn, are aggravated by the experience of war.

As I observed during my recent Apostolic Journey to Japan, our world is paradoxically marked by “a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue. Peace and international stability are incompatible with attempts to build upon the fear of mutual destruction or the threat of total annihilation. They can be achieved only on the basis of a global ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility in the whole human family of today and tomorrow”.

Every threatening situation feeds mistrust and leads people to withdraw into their own safety zone. Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to a relationship of peace. Even nuclear deterrence can only produce the illusion of security.

We cannot claim to maintain stability in the world through the fear of annihilation, in a volatile situation, suspended on the brink of a nuclear abyss and enclosed behind walls of indifference. As a result, social and economic decisions are being made that lead to tragic situations where human beings and creation itself are discarded rather than protected and preserved. How, then, do we undertake a journey of peace and mutual respect? How do we break the unhealthy mentality of threats and fear? How do we break the current dynamic of distrust?

We need to pursue a genuine fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and mutual trust. The desire for peace lies deep within the human heart, and we should not resign ourselves to seeking anything less than this.

2. Peace, a journey of listening based on memory, solidarity and fraternity

The Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are among those who currently keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened in August 1945 and the unspeakable sufferings that have continued to the present time. Their testimony awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction. “We cannot allow present and future generations to lose the memory of what happened here. It is a memory that ensures and encourages the building of a more fair and fraternal future”.

Like the Hibakusha, many people in today’s world are working to ensure that future generations will preserve the memory of past events, not only in order to prevent the same errors or illusions from recurring, but also to enable memory, as the fruit of experience, to serve as the basis and inspiration for present and future decisions to promote peace.

What is more, memory is the horizon of hope. Many times, in the darkness of wars and conflicts, the remembrance of even a small gesture of solidarity received can lead to courageous and even heroic decisions. It can unleash new energies and kindle new hope in individuals and communities.

Setting out on a journey of peace is a challenge made all the more complex because the interests at stake in relationships between people, communities and nations, are numerous and conflicting. We must first appeal to people’s moral conscience and to personal and political will. Peace emerges from the depths of the human heart and political will must always be renewed, so that new ways can be found to reconcile and unite individuals and communities.

The world does not need empty words but convinced witnesses, peacemakers who are open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion or manipulation. In fact, we cannot truly achieve peace without a convinced dialogue between men and women who seek the truth beyond ideologies and differing opinions. Peace “must be built up continually”; it is a journey made together in constant pursuit of the common good, truthfulness and respect for law. Listening to one another can lead to mutual understanding and esteem, and even to seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.

The peace process thus requires enduring commitment. It is a patient effort to seek truth and justice, to honour the memory of victims and to open the way, step by step, to a shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance. In a state based on law, democracy can be an important paradigm of this process, provided it is grounded in justice and a commitment to protect the rights of every person, especially the weak and marginalized, in a constant search for truth.[6] This is a social undertaking, an ongoing work in which each individual makes his or her contribution responsibly, at every level of the local, national and global community.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

As Saint Paul VI pointed out, these “two aspirations, to equality and to participation, seek to promote a democratic society… This calls for an education to social life, involving not only the knowledge of each person’s rights, but also its necessary correlative: the recognition of his or her duties with regard to others. The sense and practice of duty are themselves conditioned by the capacity for self-mastery and by the acceptance of responsibility and of the limits placed upon the freedom of individuals or the groups”.

Divisions within a society, the increase of social inequalities and the refusal to employ the means of ensuring integral human development endanger the pursuit of the common good. Yet patient efforts based on the power of the word and of truth can help foster a greater capacity for compassion and creative solidarity.

In our Christian experience, we constantly remember Christ, who gave his life to reconcile us to one another (cf. Rom 5:6-11). The Church shares fully in the search for a just social order; she continues to serve the common good and to nourish the hope for peace by transmitting Christian values and moral teaching, and by her social and educational works.

3. Peace, a journey of reconciliation in fraternal communion

The Bible, especially in the words of the Prophets, reminds individuals and peoples of God’s covenant with humanity, which entails renouncing our desire to dominate others and learning to see one another as persons, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters. We should never encapsulate others in what they may have said or done, but value them for the promise that they embody. Only by choosing the path of respect can we break the spiral of vengeance and set out on the journey of hope.

We are guided by the Gospel passage that tells of the following conversation between Peter and Jesus: “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22). This path of reconciliation is a summons to discover in the depths of our heart the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters. When we learn to live in forgiveness, we grow in our capacity to become men and women of peace.

What is true of peace in a social context is also true in the areas of politics and the economy, since peace permeates every dimension of life in common. There can be no true peace unless we show ourselves capable of developing a more just economic system. As Pope Benedict XVI said ten years ago in his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, “in order to defeat underdevelopment, action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but above all on graduallyincreasing openness, in a world context, to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion” (No. 39).

4. Peace, a journey of ecological conversion

“If a mistaken understanding of our own principles has at times led us to justify mistreating nature, to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in war, injustice and acts of violence, we believers should acknowledge that by so doing we were not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we have been called to protect and preserve”.

Faced with the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself – we are in need of an ecological conversion. The recent Synod on the Pan-Amazon Region moves us to make a pressing renewed call for a peaceful relationship between communities and the land, between present and past, between experience and hope.

This journey of reconciliation also calls for listening and contemplation of the world that God has given us as a gift to make our common home. Indeed, natural resources, the many forms of life and the earth itself have been entrusted to us “to till and keep” (Gen 1:15), also for future generations, through the responsible and active participation of everyone. We need to change the way we think and see things, and to become more open to encountering others and accepting the gift of creation, which reflects the beauty and wisdom of its Creator.

All this gives us deeper motivation and a new way to dwell in our common home, to accept our differences, to respect and celebrate the life that we have received and share, and to seek living conditions and models of society that favour the continued flourishing of life and the development of the common good of the entire human family.

The ecological conversion for which we are appealing will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the generosity of the Creator who has given us the earth and called us to a share it in joy and moderation. This conversion must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life. For Christians, it requires that “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them”.

5. “We obtain all that we hope for”

The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for.

In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.

Fear is frequently a source of conflict. So it is important to overcome our human fears and acknowledge that we are needy children in the eyes of the One who loves us and awaits us, like the father of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11-24). The culture of fraternal encounter shatters the culture of conflict. It makes of every encounter a possibility and a gift of God’s generous love. It leads us beyond the limits of our narrow horizons and constantly encourages us to a live in a spirit of universal fraternity, as children of the one heavenly Father.

For the followers of Christ, this journey is likewise sustained by the sacrament of Reconciliation, given by the Lord for the remission of sins of the baptized. This sacrament of the Church, which renews individuals and communities, bids us keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, who reconciled “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). It requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbours or against God’s creation.

The grace of God our Father is bestowed as unconditional love. Having received his forgiveness in Christ, we can set out to offer that peace to the men and women of our time. Day by day, the Holy Spirit prompts in us ways of thinking and speaking that can make us artisans of justice and peace.

May the God of peace bless us and come to our aid.

May Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Mother of all the peoples of the earth, accompany and sustain us at every step of our journey of reconciliation.

And may all men and women who come into this world experience a life of peace and develop fully the promise of life and love dwelling in their heart.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2019

The Nobel Lecture Given by the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed Ali

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the Addis Standard

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa”
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses,
Distinguished members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,
Fellow Ethiopians, Fellow Africans, Citizens of the World
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to be here with you, and deeply grateful to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for recognizing and encouraging my contribution to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace. Likewise, I accept this award on behalf of my partner, and comrade-in-peace, President Isaias Afwerki, whose goodwill, trust, and commitment were vital in ending the two-decade deadlock between our countries.

I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.

Today, I stand here in front of you talking about peace because of fate.

I crawled my way to peace through the dusty trenches of war years ago.

I was a young soldier when war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

I witnessed firsthand the ugliness of war in frontline battles.

There are those who have never seen war but glorify and romanticize it.

They have not seen the fear,

They have not seen the fatigue,

They have not seen the destruction or heartbreak,

Nor have they felt the mournful emptiness of war after the carnage.

War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I have been there and back.

I have seen brothers slaughtering brothers on the battlefield.

I have seen older men, women, and children trembling in terror under the deadly shower of bullets and artillery shells.

You see, I was not only a combatant in war.

I was also a witness to its cruelty and what it can do to people.

War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men.

Twenty years ago, I was a radio operator attached to an Ethiopian army unit in the border town of Badme. The town was the flashpoint of the war between the two countries.

I briefly left the foxhole in the hopes of getting a good antenna reception.

It took only but a few minutes. Yet, upon my return, I was horrified to discover that my entire unit had been wiped out in an artillery attack. I still remember my young comrades-in-arms who died on that ill-fated day. I think of their families too.

During the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an estimated one hundred thousand soldiers and civilians lost their lives. The aftermath of the war also left untold numbers of families broken. It also permanently shattered communities on both sides. Massive destruction of infrastructure further amplified the post-war economic burden.

Socially, the war resulted in mass displacements, loss of livelihoods, deportation and denationalization of citizens. Following the end of active armed conflict in June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea remained deadlocked in a stalemate of no-war, no-peace for two decades.

During this period, family units were split over borders, unable to see or talk to each other for years to come.

Tens of thousands of troops remained stationed along both sides of the border. They remained on edge, as did the rest of the country and region. All were worried that any small border clash would flare into a full-blown war once again.

As it was, the war and the stalemate that followed were a threat for regional peace, with fears that a resumption of active combat between Ethiopia and Eritrea would destabilize the entire Horn region.

And so, when I became Prime Minister about 18 months ago, I felt in my heart that ending the uncertainty was necessary. I believed peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was within reach. I was convinced that the imaginary wall separating our two countries for much too long needed to be torn down.

And in its place, a bridge of friendship, collaboration and goodwill has to be built to last for ages.

That is how I approached the task of building a peace bridge with my partner President Isaias Afwerki. We were both ready to allow peace to flourish and shine through. We resolved to turn our “swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks” for the progress and prosperity of our people.

We understood our nations are not enemies. Instead, we were victims of the common enemy called poverty. We recognized that while our two nations were stuck on old grievances, the world was shifting rapidly and leaving us behind.

We agreed we must work cooperatively for the prosperity of our people and our region.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we are reaping our peace dividends. Families separated for over two decades are now united. Diplomatic relations are fully restored. Air and telecommunication services have been reestablished. And our focus has now shifted to developing joint infrastructure projects that will be a critical lever in our economic ambitions. Our commitment to peace between our two countries is iron-clad. One may wonder, how it is that a conflict extending over twenty years, can come to an amicable resolution.


Allow me to share with you a little about the beliefs that guide my actions for peace.

I believe that peace is an affair of the heart. Peace is a labor of love. Sustaining peace is hard work. Yet, we must cherish and nurture it. It takes a few to make war, but it takes a village and a nation to build peace. For me, nurturing peace is like planting and growing trees.

Just like trees need water and good soil to grow, peace requires unwavering commitment, infinite patience, and goodwill to cultivate and harvest its dividends. Peace requires good faith to blossom into prosperity, security, and opportunity.

In the same manner that trees absorb carbon dioxide to give us life and oxygen, peace has the capacity to absorb the suspicion and doubt that may cloud our relationships.

In return, it gives back hope for the future, confidence in ourselves, and faith in humanity. This humanity I speak of, is within all of us. We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance.

When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace. Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer. Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny. Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

Can peace be achieved between Ethiopia and Eritrea?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility.

At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity. It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come from a small town called Beshasha, located in the Oromia region of Western Ethiopia. It is in Beshasha that the seeds of Medemer began to sprout.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me and my siblings, an abiding faith in humanity. Medemer resonates with the proverb, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

In my little town, we had no running water, electricity, or paved roads. But we had a lot of love to light up our lives. We were each other’s keepers.

Faith, humility, integrity, patience, gratitude, tenacity, and cooperation coursed like a mighty stream. And we traveled together on three country roads called love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. In the Medemer idea, there is no “Us and Them.”

There is only “US” for “We” are all bound by a shared destiny of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

For the people in the “Land of Origins” and “The 13 Months of Sunshine,” Medemer has always been second nature. Ethiopians maintained peaceful coexistence between the followers of the two great religions because we always came together in faith and worship.

We, Ethiopians, remained independent for thousands of years because we came together to defend our homeland. The beauty of our Ethiopia is its extraordinary diversity.

The inclusiveness of Medemer ensures no one is left behind in our big extended family.

It has also been said, “No man is an island.”

Just the same, no nation is an island. Ethiopia’s Medemer-inspired foreign policy pursues peace through multilateral cooperation and good neighborliness.

We have an old saying: “በሰላም እንድታድር ጎረቤትህ ሰላም ይደር”, “yoo ollaan nagayaan bule, nagaan bulanni.” It is a saying shared in many African languages, which means, “For you to have a peaceful night, your neighbor shall have a peaceful night as well.”

The essence of this proverb guides the strengthening of relations in the region. We now strive to live with our neighbors in peace and harmony. The Horn of Africa today is a region of strategic significance. The global military superpowers are expanding their military presence in the area. Terrorist and extremist groups also seek to establish a foothold. We do not want the Horn to be a battleground for superpowers nor a hideout for the merchants of terror and brokers of despair and misery. We want the Horn of Africa to become a treasury of peace and progress. Indeed, we want the Horn of Africa to become the Horn of Plenty for the rest of the continent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a global community, we must invest in peace.

Over the past few months, Ethiopia has made historic investments in peace, the returns of which we will see in years to come. We have released all political prisoners. We have shut down detention facilities where torture and vile human rights abuses took place.

Today, Ethiopia is highly regarded for press freedom. It is no more a “jailor of journalists”. Opposition leaders of all political stripes are free to engage in peaceful political activity.

We are creating an Ethiopia that is second to none in its guarantee of freedoms of expression. We have laid the groundwork for genuine multiparty democracy, and we will soon hold a free and fair election.

I truly believe peace is a way of life. War, a form of death and destruction. Peacemakers must teach peace breakers to choose the way of life. To that end, we must help build a world culture of peace. But before there is peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart and mind.

There must be peace in the family, in the neighborhood, in the village, and the towns and cities. There must be peace in and among nations.

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen:

There is a big price for enduring peace. A famous protest slogan that proclaims, “No justice, no peace,” calls to mind that peace thrives and bears fruit when planted in the soil of justice.

The disregard for human rights has been the source of much strife and conflict in the world. The same holds in our continent, Africa. It is estimated that some 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.

Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. They demand equality of opportunity and an end to organized corruption. The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace.

Standing on this world stage today, I would like to call upon all my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights, and equal opportunities for all its citizens. I would like to especially express that we should avoid the path of extremism and division, powered by politics of exclusion. Our accord hangs in the balance of inclusive politics.

The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media. They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves.

Together, we must neutralize the toxin of hatred by creating a civic culture of consensus-based democracy, inclusivity, civility, and tolerance based on Medemer principles.

The art of building peace is a synergistic process to change hearts, minds, beliefs and attitudes that never ceases.

It is like the work of struggling farmers in my beloved Ethiopia. Each season they prepare the soil, sow seeds, pull weeds, and control pests. They work the fields from dawn to dusk in good and bad weather. The seasons change, but their work never ends. In the end, they harvest the abundance of their fields. Before we can harvest peace dividends, we must plant seeds of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of our citizens.

We must pull out the weeds of discord, hate, and misunderstanding and toil every day during good and bad days too. I am inspired by a Biblical Scripture which reads: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Equally I am also inspired by a Holy Quran verse which reads: “Humanity is but a single Brotherhood. So, make peace with your Brethren.”

I am committed to toil for peace every single day and in all seasons.

I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper too.

I have promises to keep before I sleep. I have miles to go on the road of peace.

As I conclude, I call upon the international community to join me and my fellow

Ethiopians in our Medemer inspired efforts of building enduring peace andProsperity in the Horn of Africa.

ሰላም ለሁላችንም፤ ለሰላም አርበኖች እንዲሁም ለሰላም ወዳጆች።

I thank you!

United Nations General Assembly Adopts Three Resolutions on Culture of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from the United Nations (abbreviated)

The General Assembly today (December 12) adopted three resolutions on the culture of peace, highlighting the need to foster interreligious and cultural dialogue, temper social media and bolster education in efforts to prevent future clashes between and within societies.


Bangladesh Ambassador Rabab Fatima introduced the culture of peace resolution

Introducing a draft on “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”, the Philippines’ representative said the resolution aimed to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue in achieving peace and stability as well as strengthen constructive dialogue across divergent divides.  The resolution also stresses the important role the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United National Alliance of Civilizations play in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue at all levels, he said.

Bangladesh’s delegate, introducing a text on “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”, noted that it welcomes the High‑level Forum on Culture of Peace held on 13 September 2019, the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action.  The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace continues to find relevance across the three pillars of the United Nations in addressing contemporary global challenges, he said.

A final text designates 20 July as World Chess Day . . .

Addressing the drafts, delegates warned that clashing cultures are a growing reality in numerous societies, with antisemitism resurfacing and Islamophobia becoming more pervasive.  Libya’s representative pointed to waves of violence, displacement, death and destruction due to increases in violent extremism, terrorism and hatred.  “It is sad to see flagrant and daily violations of human rights,” he said.

They also observed that the international community today is facing more complex challenges undermining the culture of peace than in the past, including religious tensions and violence.  Kuwait’s representative observed that violent extremism is used as a mode of expression on social networks, stressing that the international community must ban content inciting extremism and terrorism.

Also arguing that social media platforms can threaten the culture of peace, Saudi Arabia’s delegate emphasized that using digital messages constructively can achieve the opposite result.  Echoing that sentiment, Ecuador’s representative emphasized that the more such media are used to disseminate hate speech the more people must use positive digital missives to counter them.

Several speakers emphasized the importance of quality education and dialogue as tools to forge peaceful understanding between countries and societies.  Interreligious and intercultural dialogues with faith leaders, civil society and academia are important for building intellectual and moral solidarity, India’s delegate said.  Home to a significant number of practitioners of practically every major religion in the world, his country is a narrative of conversations between different civilizations, he said. . . .

The Assembly had before it two reports of the Secretary‑General on “A world against violence and violent extremism,” (document A/74/195) and “Promotion of a culture of peace and interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/74/476).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Sweden, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Thailand (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Cuba, Morocco, Panama, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, Azerbaijan, Canada, Nicaragua and United States, as well as an observer for the Holy See. . . .

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

RABAB FATIMA (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution titled “Follow‑up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/74/L.23), said the text welcomes the High‑level Forum on Culture of Peace held on 13 September 2019, the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action.  Bangladesh appreciates that the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace continues to find relevance across the three pillars of the United Nations in addressing contemporary global challenges.  It further appreciates that the High‑level Forum provided an opportunity for Member States, United Nations entities, civil society, non‑governmental organizations and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and make suggestions on how to build on and further promote the culture of peace in the twenty‑first century.  Finally, the text notes its support for Member States in promoting the culture of peace at the national level. . . .

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines), introducing the draft resolution titled “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document L/74/L.25), said that the international community is experiencing a growing trend of xenophobia and religious intolerance, underpinned by the politics of identity, as well as the emergence of extremist ideologies.  There was a time when terror was the weapon of the weak against the strong in fights for freedom and justice.  Today, terror is pursued for itself.  It is not a means but the end that terrorism seeks:  a society built on fear where every person is afraid of another.

(continued in right column)

Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

This annual resolution is more relevant than ever and has two aims:  to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue to achieve peace and stability, and to strengthen the mechanism that promises constructive dialogue across the most divergent divides, she said.  The Philippines strived to use the objectives of this resolution by maintaining an open, inclusive and transparent approach during the negotiation process.  An example of this is operative paragraph 9, which appreciates the landmark initiative to open up the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor and welcomes the agreement achieved between Pakistan and India in record time.  The resolution also stresses the important role of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the invaluable contributions of the United National Alliance of Civilizations in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue at all levels.

Statements

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that ASEAN continues to advance the vision the association had when it was founded 52 years ago:  to have an integrated, peaceful and stable community throughout the region which enjoys prosperity, lasting peace and stability.  The association’s decision‑making process has been carried out in the ASEAN way:  completed with the consensus of all 10 member countries.  The ASEAN way has worked to expand peace and stability in the region, and it carries out the same process with its dialogue partners to within the region and beyond its borders.

ASEAN continues to engage in meaningful dialogue with its external partners through ASEAN‑led mechanisms, such as the Preventive Diplomacy and Confidence‑Building Measures under the ASEAN Regional Forum, he continued.  ASEAN also supports the Security Council’s women, peace and security agenda and multi‑stakeholder initiatives.  For example, the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme helps foster a culture of peace through the active participation of women and youth.  ASEAN believes that the promotion of cooperation on sustainable development also helps foster a culture of peace, he said.

CARLOS RON MARTÍNEZ, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs for North America of Venezuela, said that building and strengthening a culture of peace calls for real commitment from the international community.  This must go beyond occasional speeches to real action.  Achieving solidarity with the most vulnerable people is essential in this regard.  “We must understand each other and recognize each other without judging each other,” he added.  A world of peace will only be possible when social justice, health, food and dignity are accessible to all people regardless of their social class, gender or any other construct.  Venezuela rejects xenophobia and discrimination.

Political will and dialogue without exclusion and under equal conditions will allow people to feel like real actors of change in the world, he continued. Venezuela has made major contributions to multilateralism, cooperation and solidarity.  This has been recognized by various States, social movements and academics.  The country remains involved in initiatives that promote economic solidarity, self‑determination and peaceful coexistence.  Venezuela is also dedicated to establishing a judicial system that strengthens peace, integrity and the rule of law.  He condemned the illegal implementation of unilateral coercive measures by the United States against his country.  “They are criminal and inhumane collective punishment,” he said, demanding such measures be lifted immediately. . . .

AHMED NASIR (Maldives) said that education is a key element in cultivating and nurturing a culture of peace.  Despite much progress in that regard, there are still some 262 million children worldwide who do not go to school.  Inequality remains one of the biggest obstacles to creating a culture of peace.  For decades, Maldivians who lived in islands outside of the greater Malé region have not had the same level of development or access to the same basic resources.  They have not been accorded the same level of priority in policymaking circles.  The current Government is committed to implementing a decentralization policy aimed at rectifying this.  The Declaration and Programme of Action on a culture of peace rightly identifies Governments, civil society, media and individuals as key actors for its effective implementation.  Moreover, he said that without adequate regulation, social media has become a tool to spread populist rhetoric, political extremism, racism, xenophobia and falsehoods.  “We call on social media companies to take more responsibility, especially in monitoring divisive content,” he said.

Mr. ALMABROK (Libya) said the world is witnessing waves of violence, displacement, death and destruction, due to an increase of violent extremism, terrorism and hatred.  The root causes are poverty, unemployment, impunity and marginalization. “It is sad to see flagrant and daily violations of human rights,” he said, calling on all countries to work together to provide greater resources and the courage to put an end to these violations.  Peace can only exist where there is justice.  He expressed concern that unregulated social media is exposing young people to extremist ideology.  Member States should demonstrate a collective will to resolve conflict and war and refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign States.  Respect for cultural and religious diversity is also important.

ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), warning that the world today produces more bullets than books, stressed that so long as nuclear deterrence is used as a method to contain war, human beings will not enjoy a culture of peace.  There can be no peace without full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the self‑determination of peoples.  The use of unilateral coercive measures as a foreign policy tool must cease.  Ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba would be an action in favor of peace.  There is no culture of peace when the United States launches a new slander campaign to discredit Cuba, she stressed. . . .

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the Baku Process has proved itself as one of the leading international platforms to foster dialogue and cultural diversity.  Its important role was emphasized by the Secretary‑General in his report to the Assembly’s seventy‑second session and most recently, in the outcome documents of the eighteenth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non‑Aligned Movement, held on 25 to 26 October in Azerbaijan.  An integral part of the Baku Process is the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, organized biennially by Azerbaijan since 2011 in partnership with UNESCO, the Alliance of Civilizations, the World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  The fifth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which took place this May in Baku, focused on dialogue as an instrument for action against discrimination, inequality and violent conflict.  In November, Azerbaijan hosted the second Summit of World Religious Leaders, which drew participants from about 70 countries, and adopted the Baku Declaration at its outcome.  The outcome emphasized the role of religious leaders in promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue. . . .

Groundswell of support for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Oscar Grenfell from the World Socialist Web Site (abbreviated)

Over the past week [last week of November], a growing groundswell of opposition to the US-led persecution of Julian Assange has come to the surface of political life internationally.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange greets supporters from a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)

Prominent public figures in Britain, Europe and Australia, including doctors, journalists, politicians and United Nations representatives, have condemned the WikiLeaks founder’s imprisonment in the UK’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.

They have demanded an end to the attempt to extradite him to the United States, where he faces charges of espionage and life imprisonment for publishing the truth.

Their statements, and a number of significant events in Assange’s defence, are a welcome blow to the conspiracy of silence that has surrounded his persecution, enforced by governments, official political parties around the world and the corporate media.

The expressions of hostility to the US-led vendetta against Assange come in the lead-up to extradition hearings next February in the UK. British authorities have trampled on Assange’s legal and democratic rights, including his ability to prepare a defence, and have dismissed warnings from medical experts that his health has deteriorated to the extent that he could die in prison.

The surge of support for Assange also follows the ignominious collapse of the attempts to frame him as a “rapist,” with Swedish prosecutors last week finally abandoning a nine-year “preliminary investigation” into sexual misconduct allegations.

The bogus Swedish investigation, characterised by a litany of procedural abuses and violations of due process, played a central role in undermining the mass support that Assange enjoyed in 2010. It was invoked by innumerable pseudo-left organisations, media pundits and self-styled civil liberties organisations to join the attacks on Assange or justify their refusal to defend him.

Now, however, it is clear to millions that Assange is, and always has been, a political prisoner. His “crime,” according to the US government and its allies, was to publish documents of historic significance revealing their war crimes, global diplomatic conspiracies and surveillance operations affecting billions of people.

The US attempt to prosecute him has opened the floodgates for an assault on press freedom and free speech, with the “Assange precedent” spurring government attacks on journalists in France, Australia and the US.

These factors have contributed to the following significant developments:

● Last weekend, more than 60 eminent medical doctors issued an open letter to the British home secretary, warning that, unless urgent action is taken, Assange may die in Belmarsh Prison. The doctors condemned Britain’s denial of adequate medical care to Assange and called for him to be immediately moved to a university teaching hospital. Their initiative was reported in dozens of publications around the world.

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from the column on the left)

● On Monday, the inaugural meeting of a cross-parliamentary group of eleven Australian federal parliamentarians unanimously resolved to lobby for the US extradition request to be dropped and for Assange “to be allowed to return to Australia.” The statement breached years of silence on Assange by all of the official Australian political parties, including those represented within the grouping. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also warned that a US extradition of Assange would be “unacceptable.”

● On Wednesday, the French journalists’ union published an appeal for the government of Emmanuel Macron to oppose Assange’s persecution.

● On the same day, statues were unveiled outside Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate of Assange and the courageous whistle-blowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer described them as “our dissidents,” whose cases were “the most significant test of our time for the credibility of Western rule of law and democracy.” Melzer, along with Assange’s father John Shipton and WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson, spoke at an event in the German Bundestag, where they were warmly received by a number of parliamentarians.

● On Thursday, an overflow crowd attended a public meeting in London rallying support for Assange. It was addressed by renowned investigative journalist John Pilger, former British diplomat Craig Murray, and other defenders of Assange, including the popular rapper Lowkey.

● That evening, the prominent Australian journalist Kerry O’Brien spoke strongly on the need to defend Assange in his keynote address to the Walkley Awards, Australia’s preeminent media event.

O’Brien warned of the turn toward “fascism” revealed in attacks on press freedom. He told the audience: “As we sit here tonight, Julian Assange is mouldering in a British prison awaiting extradition to the United States. This government could demonstrate its commitment to a free press by using its significant influence with its closest ally to gain his return to Australia.”

O’Brien recalled that Assange received the 2011 Gold Walkley Award for the very publications over which the US is seeking to prosecute him—in an implicit condemnation of those media organisations that had turned on the WikiLeaks founder. Paul Murphy, head of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which has failed to date to mount any significant campaign in defence of Assange, a member of the union, also condemned the threatened extradition.

Underlying these significant statements is the broad support for Assange among ordinary people and widespread popular anger and concern over the threatened extradition, revealed in the fact that petitions demanding his freedom have been signed by hundreds of thousands of people.

The political parties in a position to intervene to secure Assange’s release, however, have either remained silent or rejected calls that they defend him. This includes the British Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn, which has not even mentioned the WikiLeaks founder amid a general election campaign, and the Australian government, which is participating in the campaign against Assange despite the fact that he is an Australian citizen.

For their part, the pseudo-left organisations, taking their lead from the state authorities and representing the most affluent layers of the upper-middle class, have said nothing.

Behind the scenes, the intelligence agencies and governments that have spearheaded the campaign against Assange are doing everything they can to ensure that nothing disrupts his extradition and show trial. For the ruling elites, the attack on Assange is viewed as a crucial precedent for silencing government critics, suppressing anti-war sentiment and intimidating mass social and political opposition.

Over the past 18 months, the World Socialist Web Site and the Socialist Equality Parties have intensified their decade-long campaign in defence of Assange. The developments of the past week have substantiated the key political foundations of this struggle.