All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

Dr David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Brazil: Ecocine International Film Festival of Environmental and Human Rights

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

An article from the Folha de Pernambuco (abridged)

The Ecocine International Environmental Film and Human Rights Festival begins today and continues until the 5th ( https://ecocine.eco.br/), an online meeting that gathers documentary series and films that focus on the environment. The virtual event brings together a list of 134 films in streaming from 35 countries, including Brazil, India, Holland, Malawi, France, USA and Iran.


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(Click here for the original version of this article in Portuguese.)

Question for this article:

Film festivals that promote a culture of peace, Do you know of others?

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The films address issues of an urgent nature with global impact. There are special sessions for children, adolescents and educators. All sessions are free.

Freedom

According to the event’s founder and anthropologist, Ariane Porto, the themes of environmental and human rights are so many and so urgent, that the voices coming from all directions meet and sometimes clash. ”We chose this year to honor “Liberdade.” Freedom to be, to be, to come. Freedom to stay, to rebuild, to resist, to change. Freedom of body, spirit, mind. And, fundamentally, freedom to live in a socially and environmentally sustainable world, where all species, human or not, have the right to exist”, she writes on the event’s website.

Free

Among the highlights is “From trash to treasure” (photo), a documentary directed by the Brazilian Iara Lee, which portrays a community in Lesotho, Africa, which transforms tons of garbage into everyday clothes and accessories. Another one in the spotlight is “Professor Polvo”, a film that is included in the race for an Oscar statuette this year – in the Documentary category, available on Netflix. The catalog can be accessed on the event website through quick registration.

Senegal: “Ethnic remarks”: the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance calls for “serenity”

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Press Afrik

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance (PFPC), meeting on March 25, 2021, deplore the ethnic comments made by some people in the country. According to them, “the social climate in Senegal is increasingly harmful because of these words and tendencies with connotations” dangerous and never known in the history of our Nation. The members of this platform call for serenity and social stability in the country.

“Our nation is characterized by a multiethnicity which, instead of being a source of division, is a richness and a pledge of a symbiosis, a harmony, a mutual respect. The joking cousin is the real social cement that unites the Serer to Pulaar, Diatta Ndiaye to Diop, the game of fraternal alliances which banishes any hostility between Diola and Serer. Respect for the other in his difference are in the process of being dangerously put to the test, ”said the members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance in a statement made public.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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They add: “These pillars of social stability, woven for millennia between ethnic groups, have always reduced tensions and possible crises are automatically and socially attenuated. Our nation has always known how to overcome its crises together as one people, with purpose and faith ”.

According to members of the platform, for some time now, comments that weaken these pillars have been made from north to south of the country. “A disrespectful speech of the other, which discredits and minimizes his neighbor because of his ethnicity. And even worse, we are witnessing a pitched battle between identity associations which once owed each other protection and mutual respect,” they added.

Continuing, the members of the PFPC express their deep dismay at the multiplication of divisive speeches and conflicting ethno-geographic actions recorded in recent days in the press and by certain politicians. According to them, this kind of speech and behavior is a source of hatred, seriously endangering human security, peace and national unity.

The PFPC condemns the resurgence of socio-ethnic and socio-political tendencies. They urge the State of Senegal and all voice carriers to curb these ethno-psychological tendencies by putting in place functional mechanisms for strengthening social dialogue and good practices in terms of a culture of peace, of socio-cultural and politico-religious coexistence.

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance call on political actors, opinion leaders and members of the press to make and disseminate positive, constructive and peaceful speeches.

Cameroon: A radio station for the protection of the Waza biosphere reserve

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from L’UNESCO

The Waza biosphere, the oldest in Cameroon, is located in the Lake Chad basin, in the Far North region. It is classified as a forest reserve, wildlife reserve, national park and sanctuary. This special status justified its reclassification in 1979 to the rank of biosphere reserve, recognized by UNESCO.

With its 170,000 hectares in area, the Waza biosphere offers ideal conditions for offering quality ecotourism, in particular thanks to the numerous presence on site of elephants, giraffes, large colonies of different species of birds and felines, among which are lions. Unfortunately, the Waza biosphere is also considered a dangerous place because it is traversed by terrorist groups which constitute a threat to social cohesion.

The biosphere of Waza, this tourist wealth of Cameroon, has been damaged in recent years at the hands of its local communities, threatening its biological, hydraulic and cultural heritage. Despite a certain involvement of these same communities in the management of Waza, there is still a difficult compromise with regard to the direct needs of local residents and the requirements of sustainable management of this rich but fragile biodiversity.

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(Click here for the french version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How can tourism promote a culture of peace?

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

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Almost 30 years after the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity, the need to manage biodiversity resources in a sustainable manner appears to be a priority more than ever. In this regard, initiatives aimed at making the concept of sustainable management operational have multiplied.

It is within this framework that the UNESCO Regional Office for Central Africa supports the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic and Chad), to strengthen the resilience of communities in the face of security and climate challenges.

UNESCO, through the BIOPALT project, is supporting the establishment of a community radio station in the Waza biosphere. To ensure the success of this support, the BIOPALT project team made an exchange visit and experience sharing with the local team, which focused on the potential positive impacts of the local radio tool within from the community. In addition, UNESCO is considering other support actions, in particular the restructuring of the building to house the radio but also training, the acquisition of radio equipment and their installation.

In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, radio appears more than ever essential in the dynamics of mobilization and support of beneficiaries around local initiatives. It also facilitates the creation of favorable conditions for dialogue between communities and improves the dissemination of useful information to residents, in order to promote the culture of peace and contribute to civic education.

The radio is expected to support, in addition, policies and measures to combat poverty and the search for solutions for lasting peace, particularly in the park and areas prey to Boko-Haram attacks in the region.

The BIOPALT initiative, financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), places particular emphasis on the transmission of knowledge and the sharing of experiences in order to encourage the neighboring populations to adopt and enhance the practices of sustainable development to preserve the biosphere reserve and improve the socio-economic well-being of local communities.

Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Fred Arment for International Cities of Peace

TRULY HEARTENING. The millions of citizens of Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace in February. They are now deeply involved in peacemaking within their community and beyond. Take a look at this extraordinary magazine focusing on their City of Peace efforts. It is in Chinese language but, from the photos, you can see the budding of global peace in their community. This morning’s email from Weifang City of Peace Liaison Sun Li:


Special issue on peace city
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Dear Mr. J. Fred Arment,

Thank you very much for the congratulations’ link you sent me. Weifang has become an international city of peace, which is of great significance to Weifang and has attracted great attention from all walks of life in China. At the same time, with the help of Professor Liu Cheng, Weifang is making great efforts to do a good job in peace propaganda activities and fulfill the responsibility of a peaceful city.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Recently, we have held a lot of teaching activities. Our staff have entered many schools in Weifang City, carried out peace education, and led the children to do activities related to peace. We help children understand the meaning of peace and the beautiful vision of world peace.

Website links of some activities:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/8nAhZYk3a4i-2KYabMeG2g
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/nXaaNy-keK1zKbkJga_yBw

In addition, we have published a special issue of peace city.
Link to the website of the special issue:
https://book.yunzhan365.com/dlyu/npqi/mobile/index.html

At present, Weifang is discussing cooperation with Professor Liu Cheng, planning to hold some activities on peace, hoping to let more people understand the true meaning of peace through publicity and education activities.
With respect and appreciation,
Sun Li

Generation Equality Forum: Mexico City, 29-31 March 2021

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An announcement from Foro Generacion Igualdad

The Generation Equality Forum will kick off in Mexico City 29-31 March 2021, hosted by the Government of Mexico.

With civil society at its core, the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico will reinforce the power and voice of feminist movements and youth and the commitment and action of different stake holders, including high level representatives from Member States, the private sector, and international organizations.

By analyzing progress and gaps since the 1995 Beijing Women’s conference, including the heightened urgency posed by the COVID crisis, the event will make the case for strengthened intergenerational and transformative feminist leadership and accelerated action on gender equality.

As the kick-off for the Generation Equality Forum journey, the event will:

– Launch the work of the Action Coalitions, and their calls for action for urgent implementation and investment

– Develop a multilateral feminist agenda to sharpen the Generation Equality Forum vision towards Paris

– Integrate the formation of a multilateral alliance of countries to promote the gender equality agenda

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(Click here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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The event will include a series of dialogues that will address the structural and systemic obstacles that prevent the achievement of gender equality and fulfillment of the human rights of women and girls.

This event presents a historic opportunity to promote the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and is aligned with the feminist foreign policy promoted by the Government of Mexico.

The Generation Equality Forum is a civil society–centred, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Kicking off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 29–31 March 2021, and culminating in Paris, France, in June 2021, this landmark effort will bring together governments, corporations and changemakers from around the world to define and announce ambitious investments and policies. The Forum will propel concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments for gender equality.

Registration for the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City is now open at this link, and an FAQ about the event is available here.

The Forum responds to the fact that—despite the commitments made in Beijing in 1995 to take strategic, bold action on gender equality—progress and implementation has been slow. Not a single country today can claim to have achieved gender equality. With women’s rights at risk of rolling back further as a result of the COVID-19 crisis—due to heightened poverty and risks of gender-based violence—the Forum is a rallying point to finally achieve the human rights of all women and girls.

The Generation Equality Forum will also fuel a powerful and enduring coalition for gender equality, bringing together governments, activists, corporations, feminist organizations, youth and allies to achieve transformative change.

To learn more about the Forum in Mexico, the Action Coalitions and to stay up-to-date on all the latest developments, visit the Generation Equality Forum website.

English bulletin April 1, 2021

. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY . .

This year’s celebration of the International Women’s Day was especially strong in Latin America with millions marching in Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay.

In Mexico, it was the biggest March 8 protest in the country’s history. On March 9,  many women walked off the job for “A Day Without a Woman.” The primary motor for the protest was the indignation with femicides, which are all too common in Mexico. In 2019 alone, about 10 women were killed every day and thousands more have gone missing. 

In Argentina, where marchers demanded abortion rights, a new law to legalize abortion is in process.

Marking International Women’s Day across Europe and Asia, women shouted their demands for equality, respect and empowerment, with protesters in Spain launching a 24-hour strike and crowds of demonstrators filling the streets of Manila, Seoul and New Delhi.

In Australia, tens of thousands of women gathered outside the parliament and across the country calling for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault. The rallies were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination and misconduct in some of Australia’s highest political offices.

The United Nations theme this year was “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and to highlight the gaps that remain. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said “During the pandemic, we have seen increased violence against women and girls and lost learning for girls as school drop-out rates, care responsibilities and child marriages rise. We are seeing tens of millions more women plunge into extreme poverty,”

Mlambo-Ngcuka added, “There are breakthroughs to celebrate, where women have taken the helm of organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank and we look forward to more such appointments that help to change the picture of what a leader looks like. Yet this is not the norm. In 2020, as a global average, women were 4.4 per cent of CEOs, occupied just 16.9 per cent of board seats, made up only 25 per cent of national parliamentarians, and just 13 per cent of peace negotiators. Only 22 countries currently have a woman as Head of State or Government.”

Women continue to take the lead in the struggle for peace and justice around the world.

In Belarus, women are at the forefront of the human rights struggle.

In Syria, women are seen as key to the struggle against violent extremism.

In Palestine, their leadership can be traced since the the first Arab Women’s Congress of Palestine in 1929.

The project “Weaving Alliances for Gender Equality” prepared by the Coordinator of NGOs in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, highlights examples of women’s leadership for peace and justice in Guatemala, Haiti, Colombia, Bolivia and the Mahgreb.

In Africa, Adja Kadije is highlighted for her work as a peace mediator in the Central African Republic and Quitéria Guirengane for her work as an organizer of women. She is based in Mozambique but her work extends to all of Africa.

Participants from 45 African countries took part in the formulation of the Africa Young Women’s Manifesto, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The manifesto is reprinted by CPNN with its extensive demands for Generation Equality Forums.

Although the marches and demonstrations remain vital for the movement, there is also an increasing role for virtual meetings. The Africa Young Women’s Manifesto was formulated in a series of virtual meetings in five regions on the continent that were followed by CPNN. To celebrate March 8, CPNN readers could take part in virtual meetings held by the Pan American Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, UNFOLD ZERO, Youth Fusion and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. And in the weeks that followed there were four more virtual meetings for the 65th Commission on the Status of Women and six others about women’s equality and leadership.

WOMEN’S EQUALITY



International Women’s Day 2021

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION



Financial Press Fears Brazilians Will Be Allowed to Elect President of Their Choice

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT



In Central Africa, Villages Join an Experiment To Save the World’s Second-Largest Rainforest

DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION



The Rotary Club of Pétion-Ville : promoting the culture of peace in Haiti

In addition to articles, we list virtual events for the culture of peace: Click here for upcoming events. Last month we registered 35 virtual events.

  

HUMAN RIGHTS




Belarus: Women at the forefront of human rights struggle

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY



Civil society in northeast Syria promotes women’s role to fight extremism

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY


Danny Glover on Amazon Union Drive in USA, the Power of Organized Labor & Centuries of Resistance in Haiti

EDUCATION FOR PEACE



Mexico: Second Edition of the International Festival of Cinema for the Culture of Peace

Financial Press Fears Brazilians Will Be Allowed to Elect President of Their Choice

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Alan MacLeod from FAIR – Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

The Brazilian Supreme Court this month  dismissed all charges  against former President Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. A towering figure in national politics, Lula was the country’s president for eight years between 2003 and 2011. He was later convicted on highly dubious corruption charges and spent 18 months in prison, where his plight drew worldwide attention, making him, in the estimation  of Noam Chomsky, the “world’s most prominent political prisoner.”

Lula’s incarceration directly led to far-right authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro coming to power, as Lula, the  overwhelming favorite in the polls, was barred from running against him. Sergio Moro, the judge who imprisoned Lula—and secretly worked with the prosecution to convict him—became President Bolsonaro’s justice minister. The journalist who exposed  Moro’s secret dealings, Glenn Greenwald, was charged  with cybercrimes as a result of his reporting. (The charges were later dismissed.)

The Supreme Court’s ruling leaves Lula free to run against Bolsonaro in 2022—and gives Brazilians a chance to vote for the leader of their choice. But far from celebrating the news, the financial press is very disappointed that the world’s most popular  politician is finally free again. “Stock Exchange Loses 4% and Dollar Rises After Lula Charges Annulled,” ran Forbes Brasil’s headline (3/8/21). “Markets Reacted Badly to the Announcement” wrote the Financial Times (3/8/21).

Also seemingly disconsolate at the news was Reuters (3/9/21), who went with “Brazil Markets, on Shaky Foundations, Rocked by Lula Bombshell,” telling readers that investors were “gasping for air.” The report quoted a former central banker saying that Lula’s release would have  “dire consequences.” Not for people or democracy—Reuters was not interested in that—but for “asset prices in general.”

“Lula’s Comeback Adds to Long List of Brazil Investor Woes,” read Bloomberg’s headline (3/9/21). Its article quoted one consultant warning that Lula “will seek revenge, and he will blame the markets, the media and business leaders for the downfall of the Workers’ Party.” Why these institutions are not to blame was not explained.

The financial press has long been afraid of what Lula’s liberty would mean for the profits of its readers. The “worst-case scenario,” Forbes (11/10/19) wrote in 2019, would be if he returned to politics and began “rabble rousing” people against Bolsonaro. What he had already done in undermining confidence in the administration was “deeply irresponsible,” reporter Kenneth Rapoza wrote, noting that his criticism of the government that was then imprisoning him merely increased “polarization” and “pain” throughout the country.

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Question(s) related to this article:

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

Do the financial media support democracy?

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A great many articles characterized Lula as “polarizing”—a media codeword used extensively in reporting on the Global South, meaning “enacting policies rich people don’t like.” CNBC (3/8/21), for instance, explained that the decision to drop charges against Lula would “polarize voters,”  and that financial markets were “roiled” by the latest news.

This is in complete contrast to two years ago, when the financial press lauded the election of the fascist Bolsonaro (FAIR.org, 10/31/18). The Financial Times (10/8/18) and CNBC (10/2/18) both noted that markets were “cheering” Bolsonaro’s lead in the polls, while Bloomberg (10/30/18) excitedly reported that he would be an “extraordinarily pro-business” president. “Jair Bolsonaro is a dangerous populist, with some good ideas,” said the Economist (1/5/19). It was the Wall Street Journal (10/29/18) that went furthest, however, endorsing him as a “credible” “reformer” and an “antidote” to the greed and corruption of Lula’s Workers’ Party.

Since then, corporate media have cooled on Bolsonaro: not because of his openly declared  racism, sexism, homophobia or nostalgia for dictatorship, but mostly because he has failed to fully carry out many of his promised “reforms”—another media codeword for pro-business policies which usually hurt the majority (FAIR.org, 2/16/185/8/16; CounterSpin, 8/28/1511/29/18). What Bolsonaro’s “reforms” entailed, JP Morgan (12/13/19) helpfully explained: a firesale of state-owned assets, huge cuts to public pensions, tax cuts for the wealthy and wage reductions for state employees.

Even worse, Lula’s release, the press explained, would close the door on these policies. As CNBC wrote (3/8/21):

Financial analysts said the prospect of Lula candidacy would likely drive Bolsonaro to abandon economic reforms he ran on in 2018 and further embrace populist measures to shore up support.

To decode this: CNBC and others who similarly predicted the end of Bolsonaro’s reform agenda (Financial Times, 3/8/21; Bloomberg, 3/9/21, Reuters, 3/9/21), were tacitly admitting that free-market shock therapy is exceptionally unpopular, and has no chance of implementation unless all credible opposition to it is forcefully suppressed.

If this were purely about profits, Lula should not generate such antagonism. “The financial press’ hostility and fear is pointless,” Brazilian journalist Nathalia Urban  told FAIR:

The market performed well with him for the eight years he was president, and with Dilma Rousseff for six years afterwards. If the market wants to make money by investing in production and having a strong consumer market, it has to like a government that has one of its pillars to increase the power of expenditure of the working class.

Instead, it is Lula’s position as an independent actor who has consistently stymied US imperial ambitions in Latin America and beyond  that is the real problem. Washington was also deeply implicated in his arrest and imprisonment, although corporate media have been hesitant to explore this connection (FAIR.org, 3/8/21).

The dismay over the freeing of the world’s most prominent political prisoner illustrates the opposition of the business press to human rights and the rule of law. Financial media were all too happy to see a far-right authoritarian gain power, as long as he implemented pro-rich policies. No matter what the evidence, the press’ response suggests they think that they still believe democracy just isn’t good for business.

Activists Block Rail Route for General Dynamics Armoured Vehicles Bound for Saudi Arabia, Demand Canada Stop Fueling War in Yemen

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from World Beyond War

Members of anti-war organizations World BEYOND War, Labour Against the Arms Trade, and People for Peace London are blocking railway tracks near General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a London-area company manufacturing light armoured vehicles (LAVs) for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The activists are calling on General Dynamics to end its complicity in the brutal Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and calling on the Canadian government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia and expand humanitarian assistance for the people of Yemen.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Saudi-led, Western-backed coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war, leading to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

It is estimated that 24 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance – some 80% of the population – which is being thwarted by the Saudi-led coalition’s land, air, and naval blockade of the country. Since 2015, this blockade has prevented food, fuel, commercial goods and aid from entering Yemen. According to the World Food Program, nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are already living in famine-like conditions with 5 million just a step away. To add to the already dire situation, Yemen has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world, killing 1 in 4 people who test positive.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic and calls from the United Nations for a global ceasefire, Canada has continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia. In 2019, Canada exported arms valued at $2.8 billion to the Kingdom—more than 77 times the dollar value of Canadian aid to Yemen in the same year.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has exported over $1.2 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, the bulk of which are light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics, part of a $15 billion arms deal brokered by the Government of Canada. Canadian weapons continue to fuel a war that has led to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen and heavy civilian casualties.

The light armoured vehicles manufactured by General Dynamics in London, Ontario are being transported by rail and truck to port where they are loaded onto Saudi ships.

“Since the multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia was first signed, Canadian civil society has published reports, presented petitions, protested at government offices and weapons manufacturers across the country, and delivered several letters to Trudeau in which dozens of groups representing millions have repeatedly demanded Canada stop arming Saudi Arabia” said Rachel Small of World BEYOND War. “We’ve been left with no choice but to block the Canadian tanks headed to Saudi Arabia ourselves.”

“Workers want green, peaceful jobs, not jobs manufacturing weapons of war. We will continue to put pressure on the Liberal government to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia and work with unions to secure alternatives for arms industry workers,” said Simon Black of Labour Against the Arms Trade, a coalition of peace and labour activists working to end Canada’s participation in the international arms trade.

“What our community needs is government funding for rapid conversion from military exports back to production for human needs, as these plants used to do,” says David Heap of People for Peace London. “We call for immediate public investment in much-needed green transport industries that will ensure good jobs for Londoners while protecting peace and human rights in the world.”

Follow twitter.com/wbwCanada and twitter.com/LAATCanada for photos, videos, and updates during the rail blockade.

Danny Glover on Amazon Union Drive in USA, the Power of Organized Labor & Centuries of Resistance in Haiti

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

A transcript from Democracy Now

As workers in Bessemer, Alabama, continue to vote on whether to establish the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States, we speak with actor and activist Danny Glover, who recently joined organizers on the ground to push for a yes vote. “This election is a statement,” says Glover, one of the most high-profile supporters of the closely watched union drive. Nearly 6,000 workers, most of them Black, have until March 29 to return their ballots. If workers successfully unionize, it could be a watershed moment for the U.S. labor movement, setting off a wave of union drives at Amazon facilities across the country. “Once unions are there, once workers have representation on all levels, once they have a seat at the bargaining table, it’s another kind of expression and a new relationship,” says Glover. 


video of show

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.
Senator Bernie Sanders is heading to Bessemer, Alabama, today to show support for Amazon workers who are in the final days of voting on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States. It’s one of the most closely watched union elections in decades. Voting ends Monday, March 29th. Ballots have been sent to nearly 6,000 workers, most of whom are Black.
Amazon, which has 1.3 million employees, has fought unionization for years. Meanwhile, the company’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, has become one of the world’s two richest men. His personal wealth has increased by $65 billion during the pandemic alone.
Senator Sanders joins other lawmakers who have traveled to Bessemer to support the unionization drive. New York Congressmember Jamaal Bowman visited last month and called on Amazon executives to come out and talk to their critics.

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN: And you came out here, as well. So, come out here, meet us, say hello, explain your situation, and we can take it from there. Treat your workers with dignity and respect. And if they want to organize and unionize, let them do that, because this is America. This is a democracy. It’s rooted in labor. Labor built this country. You would not have a company if labor was not working, doing the work for you. So, come out here and show yourself and be a real person, and let’s have a real, direct conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the most high-profile supporters of the Amazon unionization drive is the world-renowned actor, director, activist, longtime labor supporter, Danny Glover. He’s heading back to Bessemer, Alabama, today.

Danny, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. Can you talk about why you’re taking this long journey, as you are shooting in Canada, but you’re going south?

DANNY GLOVER: Well, first of all, I was just thinking about Georgia. This is where we need Nina Simone. Her Mississippi song was galvanizing [inaudible], and words for Georgia would be galvanizing, as well. My family, my mother, my roots are in Georgia. My great-grandmother, Mae Hunley, was freed by the emancipation in the Civil War, so I have a long history with Georgia.

And I commend all those who struggle. I mean this new generation of activists, of political politicians, that are there right now and fighting, and also citizens, as well, because this is going to take the work of citizens and citizens to act at this particular moment.

We talk about labor. I’ve been a strong supporter of labor my entire life. I grew up in the system of organized labor and organizing citizens with the postal employees, which my parents were proud members of the union there, the national council — the national postal employee union. So, I know about that. That has been the circumference of my life.

And this election, we can talk about importance all we want, but this election is a statement right here. Remember, you know, this election at Amazon is a statement. We are in a crisis, you know? We’re dealing with a narrative that will not allow us to move beyond and go somewhere else and to be something else and to transform this country.

So, we’re living in this particular moment at this time, and certainly unions are going to play an extraordinary role. We know the role that unions have played throughout the 20th century, particularly the mid-20th century and through the end of World War II. But we understand that the role that labor has to play is essential.

We have a pandemic, the reality of the pandemic. The pandemic is going to change the whole nature in how — nature in which we deal with each other, we relate to each other. All the things that we take for granted as common in our behavior is changing. So the face of employment is going to change, as well. So, there are things that we — there are so many unknowns, but what’s steadfast is that once unions are there, once workers have representation on all levels, once they have a seat at the bargaining table, there’s another kind of expression and a new relationship. That relationship is going to be essential across the new ways in which we deal with commerce, the new ways in which we deal with business. That relationship is going to be essential.

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Question for this article

Is it possible for workers to gain solidarity through unionisation?

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So, here we are right now at this particular moment. And it’s going to be tough. We know that. It’s always been tough. But at the same time, I think the political will is there in ways that I think are necessary and still will translate into other struggles, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Danny, you’ve been to Bessemer before, and you went down, and you talked to the workers. What did they tell you about the conditions in the factory? And also, in light of what we just said at the beginning of this segment, that Jeff Bezos, one of the two wealthiest men in the world, made $65 billion during the pandemic alone — that’s like $7.4 million every hour for the past year. Put those two together.

DANNY GLOVER: Well, what’s clear — juxtapose that. The richest man — one of the richest men, one of the richest persons in the world, juxtapose that relationship in which the workers exist in. I mean, as an artist, I’m listening to the stories. We’re often moved by stories. Eduardo Galeano talked about stories and how we’re defined by our stories.

The stories of the workers there that I met in Bessemer at that plant were horrific, you know, from the surveillance, the constant surveillance, the inability to meet whatever the demands are, the different ways of management that are desocializing, the whole process of working and desocializing them as human beings, all those, at every level, from using the bathroom. It was unbelievable for me, you know.

And I hate to draw different other conclusions about comparisons, but if this is an example of the kind of way we deal with human beings here in the 21st century, given the extraordinary information that we have, during supposedly the extraordinary evolution that we’ve had as human beings, then we’re in trouble. And if we talk about this right here, with one of the largest employers in the world, who deals with unions in other places, would not deal with unions in here, then we’re talking about something different. We’re talking about something dangerous, you know.

And I think this is something that has to happen. It’s something — it’s the work that has to happen. It’s not only in Bessemer, but everywhere around the country. All of us should be in outrage at what is happening in the workplace, that we know now exists in the workplace, and the attempts, ugly attempts, to decredit unions itself, to union bust, to pay enormous amount of money to bring specific companies in, in order to dissuade people and intimidate people from voting yes on this for union.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about one other issue, before we turn to a third one, that is deeply close to your heart, that you’ve been very active on, this unprecedented reparations law that has been passed in Evanston, Illinois. But I know how close to your heart Haiti is. I traveled with you. We were in South Africa and went on the plane with President Aristide when he returned to Haiti.

Well, President Biden has now deported more Haitians over the past two months than President Trump did in the previous year, even though the Biden administration admits Haitians may face harm after being deported. And you know Haiti is in the midst of a political and economic crisis. At least 1,300 Haitians, including hundreds of children and infants, have been deported since February 1st, the last deportation just on Wednesday alone. Your thoughts on — what the media tends not to do is talk about the conditions, over the years, that have led people from the Northern Triangle, from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and Haiti to come to the United States.

DANNY GLOVER: Oh boy. I mean, Haiti. I mean, most people, at some point, thought I was of Haitian descent. And I express, as Frederick Douglass did, I’m a Haitian at heart. And it’s a difficult situation. I remember Jonathan Demme and I writing letters when President Bill Clinton was in office, and just expressing our condemnation of what was happening, people who were fleeing Haiti at the political — the political murder and acts and violence that was happening at that particular point in time. And what did we do? We put them on Guantánamo Bay.

But the whole question with Haiti — and let me — I don’t want to be long-winded about it, because the whole question would be — Haiti begins at the beginning. The beginning was 1804. So, if you see — look at Haitian history, Haitian history from that particular point, whose hand was always there to impede any kind of progress for the Haitian people, whether it was impose artificial embargo over 60 years for Haiti, after his victory in 1864 — 1804, until after the emancipation, when the embargo, that so-called embargo, was lifted? From every point, from the point of time of coups d’états, from the earthquake, from the coup d’état of a freely elected president in 1989, Bertrand Aristide, from that on, for the continuous messing in Haitian politics, it is exactly that, from the denial of any kind of political expression within people.

And the Haitians are Haitians because they are, because they resist. They continue to resist. They continue to resist. This resistance comes in so many different forms. So, we applaud them for their resistance, but we don’t talk about the extraordinary pressure that is placed and undermining of Haitian democracy that has been enforced for over 200 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Danny, we’re going to have to leave it there for now. And, of course, from 1804, the founding of this republic in an uprising of enslaved people, the U.S. Congress wouldn’t recognize the republic for decades, because they were afraid it would inspire enslaved people in the United States to rise up. But we’re going to leave it there, because we want to keep you on, go to break and then talk about this historic moment in Evanston, Illinois. We’re talking to the actor and activist Danny Glover, who’s on his way to Bessemer, Alabama. Stay with us.

Africa: Change Will Come from Us: A Conversation with Quitéria Guirengane

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article by Alcinda Honwana from African Arguments (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons License)

Quitéria Guirengane is a Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network. Trained in social and organizational psychology, Quitéria is today one of the most prominent female activists in the country. I first met Quitéria in 2011 in Maputo, when I interviewed her during the research for my book The Time of Youth. I was very impressed by her energy and commitment as well as by the clarity with which she articulated the issues that mattered to her and her organization. I have since been following her work, and I was delighted at the opportunity to talk to her again. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.


Quitéria Guirengane, Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network

Alcinda Honwana (AH): Quitéria, it is a pleasure to talk to you again, albeit virtually. Thank you so much for making yourself available for this conversation. You are currently one of the most prominent young Mozambican female activists, and in the past 15 years you have been involved in various organizations, campaigns and projects. Could you talk about how you started your life as an activist, and what moves you to do what you do?

Quitéria Guirengane (QG): I became an activist in high school, when I entered a literary competition to research and write an essay about the life story of a liberation struggle hero – Francisco Manyanga. I won the competition, but I quickly realized that history was a construction, and that there are different versions of history; the official version taught to us at school was not always the ‘real’ one. This led me to question things in a way that I did not do before. At university, in 2007, I joined the Students’ Association and became the head of academic affairs, fighting for more academic support for students. In 2008, I decided to run for president of the Students’ Association, but I was taken out of the ballot because I was a second-year student, and someone higher up had decided that only third year and fourth year students were allowed to run for President. I was very disappointed, and I made clear all our community became aware of this discriminatory rule. I left the Students’ Association and was later elected to be a student representative in the University Council. Around that time, I joined an initiative outside the university. And with a group of young people sharing the same concerns as me, we founded the Parlamento Juvenil (Youth Parliament – YP) – a movement through which we created space to exercise our active citizenship. I became the head of the Gender and Sexual Reproductive Health Commission, then the coordinator of the press and communications department, and later head of the programmes of the entire organization. It is with the YP that I really blossomed as an activist: I led several successful campaigns, from monitoring elections and empowering young people to vote, to organizing leadership training programmes for youth, protests marches, and promoting political dialogues across various groups.

AH: What lessons did you learn from your involvement in all these initiatives?

QG: During this journey, I coordinated one of the largest Electoral Observation programmes of the time, engaging more than 2000 young volunteers; and in 2016 we (the YP) also established the Political Dialogue for Peace Panel, a very successful initiative which made me very proud of the work we were doing. During those years, I also came to realize that as activists we cannot just focus on the young people that join formal organizations. Many young people are concerned about politics and their futures but do not join formal bodies as some civic associations and civil society organizations may constrain their voices, willingly or unwillingly, often due to pressure for getting access to support from government institutions or from international donors. Thus, the importance of creating independent and loose networks that can mobilize a wide and diverse group of young people; it is equally important, I believe, to support the initiatives by young people from the most remote and deprived areas, in districts and localities across the country.

AH: Exactly on that point, how did you expand your work to account for the experiences of a wider and more diverse group of young Mozambicans?

QG: We had to rethink the way we were working and who we were working for. There are many youth groups and associations, formal and informal, fighting for what they believe is a better and fair society. For me, it was important to establish closer links with those other groups or individuals, especially at district level. This led me to create the Young Women Leaders’ Network, an informal network that brings together young women from different backgrounds from all over the country; we are currently building a database of young female leaders from different fields – activists, artists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and the like. Currently I am also a Commentator on Política e Liderança no Feminino, a national television show that discusses political issues of the day. With other activists we established in 2019 Nova Democracia (New Democracy – ND), a political movement of citizens aimed to promote the direct involvement of young people in politics.

The Mozambican parliament today only has about 17 percent of parliamentarians under the age of 35, which is a travesty in a country with almost 70 percent of its population under 30. So, in 2019 the ND presented a list of candidates for parliamentary elections. I was the electoral representative of ND, and in that capacity, I represented our movement in all processes and discussions about the electoral process organized by the National Electoral Commission and other official bodies. I was the first young female electoral representative in any electoral process in Mozambique. The 2019 electoral process, and the previous ones, were marked by serious irregularities, ranging from voter fraud to intimidation of candidates and voters; members of ND who were accredited to monitor the voting process in Chokwé, Gaza province, were unjustly detained by the authorities for more than a month. This was not a fair process; in the end, ND did not win any parliamentary seats. Even though we were extremely disappointed with the results, this election was a good learning experience. It motivated us to keep fighting and continue the groundwork to elect young parliamentarians in the next elections.

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Question for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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AH: How does the landscape of youth political activism in Mozambique look today? What are the main challenges and how are young activists responding to these challenges?

QG: In Mozambique young activists face many challenges. The youth constitute the majority, but they represent a minority in the decision-making bodies, and that’s why we keep fighting to change this situation. It will not be easy; it will take time and we need to be able to mobilize a critical mass, build broader coalitions in order to be able to effect change. There is a lot of great work being done by young people in the districts across the country against all odds. The repression of independent and critical voices by the authorities demoralizes many young people from getting involved. For example, in April 2020 Ibraimo Mbaruco, a young journalist from the district of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province, disappeared without trace after being detained by security forces. Mbaruco reported regularly on the human rights abuses going on in the war in Cabo Delgado, including violations by the government forces. Also, during the 2019 elections, the human rights activist Anastácio Matavel was assassinated by members of the government special forces. Young female activists are often victims of defamation, harassment and even rape. We know that the Mozambican youth is restless; in 2008 and 2010 there were massive protests against the government that brought the capital to a standstill. Young people were protesting lack of employment, the high cost of living and lack of political voice. Many subsequent protests have been squashed by the authorities through a mandatory registration of SIM cards to control cellular phones and SMS communications. The environment is toxic, and activists have to contend, on the one hand, with the persecution by the government, and on the other hand, they have to fight the conditionalities that are often attached to the resources offered by international donors interested to push certain political agendas. But we keep going, we keep mobilizing, we keep putting forward our views on radio and television debates and other fora.

AH: Your activism transcends Mozambique’s national boundaries. Could you share some of those experiences and the ways in which they have contributed to shape your own trajectory and interests?

QG: Yes, in 2010 I had a chance to give a keynote speech at the US State Department in Washington DC at the opening of the first African Young Leaders Forum with President Barack Obama. My speech was very critical and was well received by the audience. I was interviewed by Voice of America and my speech was also broadcast in Mozambique, sparking a debate about some of the key issues I mentioned. While some viewed my keynote as ‘washing our dirty laundry abroad’, many agreed with me that it was important to critically address the condition and the predicament facing young people in Africa today. I was very critical of the government, and the Mozambican authorities did not like it. In 2011, I represented Mozambican young women at the meeting of young African women leaders with Michelle Obama held in Johannesburg. Amongst others, I also participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum of 2013, which focused on freedom of expression, human rights and cyber security.

I am a member of various Pan-African networks and organizations such as: the Pan-African Youth Forum for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa; the Southern Africa Platform for Young Women Leaders; the African Network for the Right to Protest; and the Solidarity Network for Political Prisoners in Africa; and the Global Network of Young Women Leaders. Through these various continental and international networks, I have learned that well-structured continental-wide action can be very effective, when it engages the right players, defends coherent messages, values community knowledge, and stands-up for fair causes. This was evident in 2015 when we brought our voices together to raise awareness about the wrongful imprisonment of 17 young Angolan political activists, the ‘Revus’ (members of the Angolan Revolutionary Movement). Our campaign generated awareness about the case, exposed the regime’s abuses and, ultimately, resulted in a fair trial and the liberation of the 17 activists. We keep close links with our counterparts in other African countries, such as Angola, DRC, Tunisia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Just recently I had discussions with Floribert Anzuluni from Filimbi (Whistle) Movement in the DRC who also suggested I should link up with Afrikki Mwinda (a Pan-African youth movement. That brings together African activists, including those in the diaspora) through Sylvain Saluseke from Lucha (Lute pour le Changement – Fight for Change) its current leader.

AH: How can young African activists come together and address issues of systemic change? What are your views about the current youth social movements in Africa and their transformative capacity?

QG: I have a lot of hope for our generation. I think it is unjust to say that young people are apathetic and disconnected from the social and political realities in their countries. In the 1960s, during the fight against colonialism, not all young people were in the trenches fighting the oppressor, but some did, and those who did not were aware of the injustices and played their roles even if often in discreet ways. Similarly, today we cannot expect that all young people will be actively involved in the struggle. But the young activists who are engaged, they give everything: many suffer intimidation, persecution, imprisonment and sometimes death. Of course, youth constitutes a heterogeneous group, and young people are engaging in their own ways, but they are acutely aware of their marginalization and lack of opportunities. While the older generation had one clear enemy, the colonial oppressor, the challenges confronting our generations are double: on the one hand, we need to tackle our own corrupt and inefficient governments, and on the other, we have to deal with an international system which is unjust, privileges big capital and is skewed in favour of the wealthy and powerful.

Even though some progressive international forces sometimes support our movements, they often do not put enough pressure on governments, especially when they have political and economic interests. For example, it is a disgrace what is happening to Bobi Wine in Uganda, but the international community is just watching and doing very little while Museveni cracks down on dissident political voices. Also, when the 18 young activists from ND were jailed during the elections here in 2019, only a few international organizations supported us. Here in Mozambique, big capital is aligned with the government because of their interest in gas, the ruby mines, coal and other resources. Even when it is clear that elections are not free and fair, the big multinational corporations are the first to congratulate those responsible for rigging the elections.

AH: In these circumstances, how do you see the future of African youth movements?

QG: Despite the lack of support, young Africans continue to fight. Bobi Wine continues to fight; the Angolan activists, even after spending months in prison, remain active, as do the Mozambican activists who are routinely intimidated and attacked by the authorities. I have a lot of hope in our Pan-African networks such as Afrikiki Mwinda and others. Change will come from within, from us. The revolution will have to be done by the African activists, by ourselves, without waiting for the support of the international community, and beyond our corrupt national institutions. All this time, we have been playing by the rules, constituting ourselves in formal organizations, getting all the permissions to protest peacefully, running for elections and putting across our ideas; but the rules of the game, as established, are fundamentally flawed and unjust. Every time we played by their rules, we have been duped, side-lined, maimed and sometimes killed. We are getting tired and we are saying enough! The world should not be surprised if one day young people resolve to take power by force, with violence.