The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Blog February 15-21

 

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

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Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to Amnesty International. We use their resources to find our Urgent Action cases and it is only right that we give them some support in return.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

We call your attention to the struggle of the Awa people of Brazil. They have managed to get the illegal loggers off their land, but they can still use your help.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to put a stop to forced child marriages in Niger.

URGENT ACTION CASES

CAMBODIA

Urgent Action: Activist Immediately Jailed After Forcible Return

Sam Sokha, a UNHCR recognized refugee, was arrested and detained by Cambodian authorities when forcibly returned from Thailand on 8 February. She had been convicted in absentia of “incitement” for her peaceful political activism and sentenced to over two years imprisonment plus a fine. Amnesty International considers her a prisoner of conscience.

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BURUNDI

Urgent Action: Members of NGO Wrongly Accused, Facing Trial

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Emmanuel Nshimirimana, Aimé Constant Gatore and Marius Nizigiyimana are on trial for “threatening state security” and using fake documents. A verdict is expected on 26 February. They are members of the Burundian non-governmental organization Words and Actions for the Awakening of Consciences and the Evolution of Mentalities (PARCEM). Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience.

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THAILAND

Urgent Action: Criminalization of Peaceful Protesters

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Peaceful protesters in Thailand are at risk of arrest and up to eight years’ imprisonment as authorities seek to silence calls for authorities not to delay promised elections.

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KENYA

Urgent Action Update: New Threats Against Indigenous Community

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The Sengwer Indigenous community are facing new threats of eviction. On 21 January, a local government official announced intensified security operations to “flush out” everyone from the forest, who, he alleges, are “all criminals and cattle-rustlers”. Sengwer community member Robert Kirotich Kibor was shot at and killed and David Kosgei Kiptilkesi was seriously injured by gunshots during an eviction on 16 January.

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The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update February 8-14

miriam

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

Our feature image above shows a Bushman child from Botswana where his people are subject to virulent racial discrimination.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the Against Malaria Foundation. They are highly rated by GiveWell. Their mission–

What do they do? AMF (againstmalaria.com) provides funding for long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN) distributions (for protection against malaria) in developing countries.

Does it work? There is strong evidence that distributing LLINs reduces child mortality and malaria cases. AMF has conducted post-distribution surveys of all completed distributions to determine whether LLINs have reached their intended destinations and how long they remain in good condition. AMF’s post-distribution surveys have generally found positive results, with some exceptions, but have some methodological limitations.

Nonetheless, we call upon you to support the fight against malaria, the main killer of children in Third World countries.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is racism. Help stamp it out.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United    and raise your voice against slavery in the Thai chicken industry.

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action Victory! – Governor Stays Execution After Juror Plea

On 8 February, the Ohio Governor issued an eight-month reprieve for Raymond Tibbetts, who was due to be executed on 13 February. The decision came after he received a letter in support of clemency from one of the jurors from the 1998 trial.

Raymond Tibbetts was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of Fred Hicks in 1997. The sentence survived the appeals process despite what a federal judge described in a dissent in 2011 as the trial lawyer’s “failure to engage in basic preparation” of mitigation evidence about the defendant’s traumatic upbringing. Evidence raised on appeal, she wrote, “revealed a much more chaotic and abusive environment” in parental and foster care than the jurors had heard about. Such “shocking” and “utterly disturbing” details would have given them “compelling” reasons to vote for life, she wrote. In January 2017, however, the Ohio parole board recommended by 11 votes to one that the Governor deny clemency. The majority acknowledged Raymond Tibbetts’s “traumatic” childhood, but decided that they could not “say, with any reasonable degree of confidence, that the outcome of the trial would have been different had his trial attorneys presented that mitigation evidence in the manner suggested by his current attorneys”.

A man who served as a juror at Raymond Tibbetts’s trial wrote a detailed letter dated 30 January 2018 to Governor John Kasich after reviewing the mitigating evidence which had been seen by the parole board but not the jury. The juror expressed his “deep concerns about the trial,” in light of this information and concluded that “[b]ased on what I know today I would not have recommended the death penalty.” In an Ohio capital case, a jury must be unanimous for the death penalty for that to be the outcome.

The former juror wrote: “Governor, if we are going to have a legal process that can send criminals to death that includes a special phase for mitigation shouldn’t we get it right?” He wrote that “this is not about my conscience beyond having an opportunity to explain how I believe the trial process was not well served in this case”. He urged the governor to commute the death sentence. Among his reasons were “the truly terrible conditions, understated at trial, of Tibbets (sic) entire childhood”; “The lack of preparation if not outright malpractice on the part of the defense for the sentencing phase”; and “The apparent ineptitude of the defense team in not calling Tibbets sister to testify”. He also suggested that the scant nature of the mitigation case had allowed the prosecution to “dismantle” it. In her 2011 dissent, the federal appeals court judge had noted that not only had the abuse been mentioned only “vaguely and in passing” at the trial, “it is important to remember one of the State’s tactics during the penalty phase was to challenge the legitimacy of the defense’s mention of childhood abuse, however minimal the reference”.

On 8 February, Governor John Kasich wrote to the Chair of the Ohio Parole Board requesting that the board convene a new hearing to review the case “in light of this new information”. To “facilitate this process”, the Governor said he had issued an eight-month reprieve. The Warrant of Reprieve holds that the death sentence will now be carried out at 10am on 17 October 2018 “unless further reprieve or clemency is granted”.

Raymond Tibbetts’s defense team has expressed its gratitude for “the crucial support of Ohioans to Stop Executions, Amnesty International, and other grassroots organizations who mobilized their strong network to contact Ohio’s Governor on behalf of Ray.”

No further action by the UA Network is requested at present. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.

 

UZBEKISTAN

Urgent Action Update: Tortured Journalist Must Be Immediately Released

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On 8 February, human rights activists reported that two SNB officers leading the investigation on the case against detained journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev had been suspended and that the General Prosecutor’s Office had initiated investigations into allegations of torture and fabrication of a criminal case. Bobomurod Abdullayev, however, remains in SNB detention.

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AZERBAIJAN

Urgent Action: Azeri Activist Conscripted Despite Ill-Health

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Azeri activist Ulvi Hasanli has been conscripted for military service, despite being in ill-health, and sent to the zone of the unresolved conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh. Following a medical examination in September 2017, he was exempted from military service until 2019 on grounds of ill-health; an ultrasound showed he had inflamed kidney and kidney stones. However late in October the decision was reversed and he was detained and taken to a military base to begin his military service. Amnesty International believes he is being targeted because of his peaceful activism.

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MEXICO

Urgent Action Update: Threats to Journalist Reporting Disappearances

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Mexico’s missing people

On 19 January a television reporter published videos from surveillance cameras that suggest that police from Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, were involved in six of seven cases of disappearances that occurred in late December and early January. Days after, the reporter received threats on Twitter.

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NORTH KOREA

Urgent Action Update: Forcibly Returned Woman Faces Treason Charges

A woman named Koo Jeong-hwa (aged 24, previously identified as Lee Su-jung in China) has been detained since 3 December 2017 in North Korea and a decision on her sentence is expected from the Ministry of State Security in March 2018. She is at risk of being sent to a political prison camp together with her 4-year-old son, where they may be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

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Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update February 1-7

miriam

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the International Medical Corps. Their mission statement:

“We provide training and deliver emergency health care and related services to those affected by conflict, natural disaster and disease no matter where they are, no matter what the conditions. We train people in their communities, providing them the skills needed to recover, chart their own path to self-reliance and become effective First Responders themselves.”

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Fighting hunger and famine

 This charity is highly rated by Charity Watch.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity is facing the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe in Paraguay. The forest belonging to Paraguay’s Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians has the fastest rate of deforestation in the world

Much of their land has been sold to cattle ranchers, forcing the uncontacted Ayoreo to live on the run, escaping the bulldozers that are destroying their forest.

Since the 1970s, Survival has been working with contacted Ayoreo communities to help them successfully gain title to 550,000 hectares of their ancestral homeland.

But it’s not enough, foreign ranching companies continue to destroy the Ayoreo’s forest home to make way for cattle, and uncontacted Ayoreo may soon have nowhere left to hide. Act now to help them.

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Members of the Paraguayan Ayoreo-Totobiegosode group on the day they were contacted for the first time, in 2004.
© GAT/Survival

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and take a step to help a young victim of trafficking who is in danger of being deported to Viet Nam where he has no family.

URGENT ACTION CASES

CHINA

Urgent Action Victory! Two Memorial Activists Released on Bail

Independent writers Li Xuewen and Zhan Huidong (aka “Xiaozhang” or “Headmaster”), detained due to their participation in the July 2017 seaside memorial for late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, have been released on bail.

Li Xuewen was released on bail and sent back to his hometown in Xiaogan Prefecture, Wuhan City in Central China on 15th January 2018. After his release, Li Xuewen posted on his Twitter account a thank you message to all his friends who had supported him while in detention. He also mentioned that he did not plead guilty nor sign any statement of repentance in custody.

Zhan Huidong was released on bail just over a week later on 23 January. A day after his release, he tweeted that while he had also suffered some mental pain, he had learnt a lot in detention. In his words, ‘The detention has left an indelible mark in my life and brought glory to my soul’. He thanked all his friends who have cared about him, writing that “they made me stay optimistic and live up to my ideals during my detention”. He is currently taking rest at home.

Both men had been criminally detained at Xinhui District Detention Centre on of suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order” since December 2017. Under Chinese law, defendants released on “bail” can see the charges against them dropped if they do not commit further violations of the law in a 12 month period, and often remain under close police surveillance. Amnesty International will continue to monitor the situation.

No further action is requested from the UA network. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.

CHINA

Urgent Action: Lawyer Detained for “Inciting Subversion”

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Beijing human rights lawyer Yu Wensheng is currently being held under “residential surveillance in a designated location” on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”. Held incommunicado and denied all access to a lawyer and his family, he is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

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CHINA

Urgent Action: Health Fears for Detained Hong Kong Bookseller

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Gui Minhai (who holds dual Swedish-Chinese citizenship) was on a train headed to Beijing with two Swedish diplomats to seek formal diagnosis for a neurological condition when he was suddenly seized by approximately ten plainclothes officers. His current whereabouts are unknown, further increasing the risk of torture and other ill-treatment and concerns for his health.

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COLOMBIA

Urgent Action: Bombing Near Indigenous Territory in Chocó

While carrying out operations against the National Liberation Army (ELN), the Colombian Security Forces bombed near the Wounaan Indigenous reservation of Chagpien Tordó, in the municipality of Litoral de San Juán in Chocó, injuring a minor. Nearby communities are currently forcibly displaced as fear of new operations threaten the population. Various criminal organizations are for the territory which is valuable for drug traffic routs and cultivation of illegal crops

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CAMBODIA

Urgent Action Update: Serious Health Concerns for Detained Politician

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Kem Sokha, president of the dissolved main opposition party, was denied bail on appeal on 1 February, despite his seriously deteriorating health. Held in isolated pre-trial detention since his arrest on 3 September 2017, he faces up to 30 years imprisonment if convicted of politically motivated charges of treason.

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MIRIAM SHLESINGER HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION UPDATE JANUARY 25-31

miriam

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the international operations of  Direct Relief. Its mission:

It is highly rated by Charity Navigator and worthy of your support.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is racism. Help stamp it out.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and raise your voice to call for the freedom of the activist Gaspar Matalaev who is in prison in Turkmenistan.

gaspar-matalayev-630x325

URGENT ACTION CASES

SUDAN

Urgent Action Victory! — Opposition Member Released From Sudan Prison

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Radwan Daoud, a dual national of the US and Sudan, was released without charge from Kober Prison on 18 January. He was arrested on 6 December 2017 and first detained at the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) detention centre.

Radwan Daoud resides in Oregon State. His arrest is believed to be in connection with videos he shared publicly on his Facebook account to bring attention to the police’s use of excessive force against protestors in the eastern district of Al-Greif. There has been tension between police and residents of the district protesting against the sale of public land to private investors.

He was first detained at the NISS detention centre in Al-Greif before being moved to Kober Prison. During his detention, the NISS interrogated Radwan twice about his visit to Al-Greif and about being a member of the Sudanese Congress Party. Radwan Daoud alleged being beaten, kicked and whipped with electric cables during his first two days in detention at the NISS offices.

He was denied access to a lawyer and medical attention during his 44 days in detention.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.
USA

Urgent Action Victory! – Supreme Court Blocks Execution in Alabama

The US Supreme Court granted a stay of execution in the case of Vernon Madison who was scheduled to be executed in Alabama on the evening of 25 January. The stay is to allow the Court time to decide whether to review the claim that Vernon Madison is not “competent” for execution due to his mental disability.

EGYPT

Urgent Action Victory! Peaceful Protesters And Activists Released

Human rights activist and former Prisoner of Conscience Mahienour el-Masry and labor activist Moatasem Medhat were acquitted of all charges by Montazah Misdemeanour Court of Appeals in Alexandria. They were respectively released on 16 January and 18 January.

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Mahienour el-Masry

On 13 January, human rights defender and former Prisoner of Conscience Mahienour el-Masry as well as labour activist Moatasem Medhat were acquitted of all charges by the Montazah Misdemeanour Court of Appeals in Alexandria. Egyptian authorities released Mahienour on 16 January and Moatasem on 18 January.

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Moatasem Medhat

 

Egyptian authorities originally detained Mahienour el-Masry and Moatasem Medhat on 18 November 2017 and they were sentenced on 30 December to two years in prison for their peaceful participation in a protest on charges of “participating in an unauthorized protest” and “show of forces”. The case dates back to 14 June 2017, where Mahineour and Moatasem participated in a protest in Alexandria against the ratification of an agreement by which Egypt ceded sovereignty over two islands in the red sea, Tiran and Sanafir, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Security forces held Mahienour el-Masry originally in El-Qanater prison in greater Cairo, and later moved her to Damanhour women’s prison, 70 km east southeast of Alexandria. Security forces detained Moatasem Medhat in Borg el-Arab prison, near the city of Alexandria. The defendants’ lawyer filed an appeal and the Montazah Misdemeanour Court of Appeals scheduled a hearing on 13 January, where the court acquitted both of them.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

 

NORWAY

Urgent Action: Student at Risk of Deportation to Afghanistan

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18-year old student Taibeh Abbasi is at imminent risk of being deported to Afghanistan, a country she has never been to. Despite the rise in the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Norway has declared Kabul safe for returns. Should Taibeh Abbasi be deported to war-torn Afghanistan, she would be at serious risk of human rights violations.

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TURKEY

Urgent Action: Turkish Medical Association Facing Threats

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and its prominent members have been subjected to threats of violence, following a statement they issued on 24 January, calling for an end to the ongoing military operation by the Turkish armed forces in Afrin, northern Syria. The TTB lodged a request with the Ankara Governorship to provide protection for its offices and members, but they have received no response.

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USA

Urgent Action: Ohio Prepares for Its First Execution of 2018

Raymond Tibbetts, aged 60, is due to be executed in Ohio on 13 February. His lawyers are urging the Governor to take account of mitigating evidence they say the clemency board failed to give proper weight to, and about which the jury was not fully informed.

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MEXICO

Urgent Action: Two Young Men Remain Disappeared

Between 27 December and 3 January, at least seven young men disappeared in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. Most cases point to the involvement of local police. Three of the disappeared men were found alive with signs of torture; two others were found dead. The whereabouts of two still remain unknown.

TAKE ACTION

Coca-Cola is a major sponsor of this year’s Winter Olympics, a huge opportunity for the world’s largest beverage company to promote its brands, its images and its sales. Since March 2015 Coke’s exclusive bottler for Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, Coca-Cola Amatil (“The power behind our region’s favorite brands”), has been busy bashing rights. There should be no place for Zero Rights at the Olympic Games. Please click and join the protest.

 

Prometheus and Pandora XI

Our featured image shows Pandora trying to undo, based on a etching by F.S. Church

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Prometheus and Pandora hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.

ANNIVERSARIES OF 2018

With each new year,  history offers a fresh list of memorable occasions ideally suited to be remembered. In a previous issue, we marked the centennial of the birth of the great American musician Leonard Bernstein. For a list of the top 10 scientific anniversaries, see Science News.

A CENTENNIAL OF A SCIENTIST

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Let us continue with the centennial of the birth of the Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman. He was an American theoretical physicist who was widely regarded as the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-World War II era.  He revised and essentially recreated the field of quantum electrodynamics, for which he shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics.  Feynman took a leading role in the Manhattan Project during the war, after which he continued his brilliant career, mostly at CalTech.  He is celebrated, inter alia, for the introduction of the famous Feynman diagrams that gave a concrete expression to esoteric calculations and a quantum mechanical theory for superfluidity.  The link above connects to a detailed biography in the Britannica.

 A DOUBLE CENTENNIAL OF A SCIENTIST

James Prescott Joule (200th birthday)

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James Joule was born into a family of brewers on December 24, 1818. The brewery provided a laboratory where he developed exceptional experimental skills. Despite no formal scientific training and no academic job, he still became one of England’s leading scientists. His experimental skill led him to establish precisely  the amount of work needed to produce a quantity of heat and the relationship between heat and electricity.

The results of his experiments were fully described in his famous 1845 paper “On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat” and they established that heat and mechanical work are both forms of energy. His efforts became the cornerstone of the theory of conservation of energy (the First Law of Thermodynamics).   Read more here.

A CENTENNIAL FOR DEMOCRACY

Women’s right to vote

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A major anniversary in the history of democracy in Great Britain and Ireland is set to take place in February: the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. The introduction of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 meant that women, who were over the age of 30, property owners and graduates from British universities, were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time. The same Act gave the vote to all men over the age of 21. The law was later extended ten years later, in June 1928, to include all women over the age of 21.

 

IN MEMORIAM

Aharon Appelfeld (February 16, 1932-January 4, 2018)

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Aharon Appelfeld credit Arik Sultan

Israeli writer and Israel Prize laureate Aharon Appelfeld died on Thursday January 4 at age 85.  He was a prolific author whose works were translated into a number of languages and who had a wide following in the English-speaking world. The last of his 45 books, “Timahon” (“Astonishment”), was published in Hebrew in 2017. His most recent book in English, “The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping: A Novel,” was published a year ago.

, writing in the New Yorker  calls him one of the subtlest, most unorthodox, and most exactingly perceptive novelists to make the memory of the Holocaust his abiding project. He was born in Romania, and was eight when the war became his life. His mother was killed. He was deported with his father to Trans-Dniester, in Ukraine. He escaped alone from a concentration camp there. He sustained himself for three years as a vagabond farm-laborer. He wound up for a while as a kitchen boy in the Soviet Army. He fetched up next in a refugee camp, then on a kibbutz in Palestine, then fighting in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. At that point he was just sixteen, and felt totally inhabited by overwhelming memories, yet at the same time unable to summon anything like a complete or precise account of any part of his lost boyhood or his odyssey through hell. So he began, over the ensuing decade, to write stories. “I remember something, but not too much,” he told Gourevich. “Therefore I’m writing fiction, because I understood immediately that my memory is weak and I must fill it with imagination.”

His biography is well known, boyhood spent surviving in Nazi-held Europe, coming alone to Israel at age 12 and his subsequent education and entrance into writing in the late 1950’s. writing in Haaretz gives a fascinating and revealing interview with him.

Full obituaries can be found in Haaretz and in the NYTimes.

 

John Watts Young (September 24, 1930 – January 5, 2018)

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Mr. Young moving across the surface during the Apollo 16 mission, April 1972. Credit Charles M. Duke Jr./NASA

John Young, NASA’s longest-serving astronaut, who walked on the moon and flew on the first Gemini and space shuttle missions, has died. The first person to fly six times into space — seven, if you count his launch off  the moon in 1972 —and the first astronaut to command four different types of spacecraft. Young died on Friday (Jan. 5) following complications from pneumonia. He was 87.

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John Young, training for Apollo 16 in December 1971 (NASA)

Mr. Young joined NASA in the early years of manned spaceflight and was still flying, at age 53, in the era of space shuttles. He was the only astronaut to fly in the Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs. He was also chief of NASA’s astronaut office for 13 years and a leading executive at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Mr. Young  retired in 2004. A detailed obituary can be found in the NYTimes     and in SpaceCollect.

THE RANTS

There is much to rant about as the new year gets underway.  Pandora and Prometheus will throw a few at you and hope that your blood pressure reacts  as it should.

A MAJOR RANT ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL

Climate change aka global warming is real and is happening. The various deniers can spew out all the pernicious nonsense they want, e.g. “Chinese hoax” according to the idiot in the White House, who was placed there by a nation of idiots.  The pernicious nature of the denial has been working for a long time and now, whether we accept it or not, climate change is here and affecting us every day. For example, let us look at a recent article in the Los Angeles Times entitled Wildfires, sea level rise, coral bleaching: Climate change is already here.  If we consider wildfires we find that over the last 30 years, the American West has seen a dramatic increase in their incidence.

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Scientists recently determined that human-caused warming has greatly increased the area of land that has burned since the 1980s. That amounts to 16,000 additional square miles (0ver 44,000 square kilometers), or the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined . The cost is huge.

 

The same article provides a chilling (or sweating) account of sea level rise, ocean acidification, coral bleaching–part of what we have been inflicting upon ourselves for decades with our political heads in the sand. What is even more frightening is the continuation of denial caused by a combination of economic interests focused on short term profit and a natural inclination of people to chose to avoid unpleasant reality. This is analogous to the European Jews in the writing of Aharon Applefeld (obituary in this blog) who fled from one place to another in Europe but never understood until it was too late that the game was over. We, Prometheus and Pandora recommend strongly that all take a look at the Web site Skeptical Science which deals with climate change denial and confronts the mythical arguments of the deniers with solid scientific fact.

For Example: Warmest year on record in the oceans

More than 90% of the heat trapped by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations ends up going into the Earth’s oceans. While surface temperatures fluctuate a bit from year to year due to natural variability, ocean heat content increases much more smoothly and is, in many ways, a more reliable indicator of the warming of the Earth, albeit one with a shorter historical record.

2017 set a clear record for the highest ocean heat content since records began in 1958, according to the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences(IAP-CAS), which maintains an up-to-date ocean heat content database.

The figures below shows ocean heat content for each year in the region of the ocean between the surface and 2,000 meters in depth (comprising the bulk of the world’s oceans), as well as a map of 2017 anomalies.

The upper figure shows changes in ocean heat content since 1958, while the lower map shows ocean heat content in 2017 relative to the average ocean heat content between 1981 and 2010, with red areas showing warmer ocean heat content than over the past few decades and blue areas showing cooler.

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A RANT ABOUT ABUSE OF WOMEN AND GIRLS

Since the original disclosure of the sexual abuse of women in the film industry, more women have come out and the hashtag #MeToo is expanding. Ronan Farrow in a series of articles in the New Yorker provides us with a detailed chronicle and description of what is involved in a woman coming forward to accuse powerful men, in particular Harvey Weinstein and the likes of him who can crush women who dare to accuse. In addition, the perpetrators are surrounded by high-powered lawyers and colleagues who over the decades chose to look aside, while the women were offered bribes for silence.
Pandora points out that all this anguish is real but these women are educated professionals who could go elsewhere and rebuild their lives. Women who fall victim to the use of rape as a weapon of warfare have no such avenue of protest and demand for redress. The UN Security Council has declared rape a war crime. In the resolution, passed 19 June, the Security Council noted that “women and girls are particularly targeted by the use of sexual violence, including as a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instill fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.”
The resolution demanded the “immediate and complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence against civilians.”

Rape has been a dishonorable camp follower of war for as long as armies have marched into battle. In the 20th century, perceptions of rape in war have moved from something that is inevitable when men are deprived of female companionship for prolonged periods to an actual tactic in conflict. The lasting psychological harm that rape inflicts on its victims has also been recognized: Rape is always torture, says Manfred Nowak,
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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More than half a million Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar and crossed over to Bangladesh since August 25 [Annette Ekin/Al Jazeera]

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Christian Caryl gives a fierce indictment of the use of rape as a means of destroying a community. Human Rights Watch
has come out with a harrowing report on sexual abuse of Rohingya women by the Burmese military. This is by no means an isolated case. Thousands of women have fallen victim to rape in South Sudan’s civil war. The reign of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has resulted in the wholesale sexual abuse of young women from the ancient religious community of the Yezidis. Women were also raped during the recent ethnic unrest in Burundi.

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It is indeed worthy that the Weinsteins of the world be called to account and that Dr. Larry Nassar, the predatory physician of the US Olympic gymnastics team, has been sentenced to a long jail term. . It is equally important that the world community makes the rapists in combat zones accountable for their crimes as well.

A RANT ABOUT DEPORTATION OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS

In a previous blog Prometheus and Pandora pointed an accusing finger at Norway which deports asylum seekers to Afghanistan despite the civil war raging there. Now they join the outcry much closer to home, the cruel deportation of thousands of African asylum seekers from Israel to “third countries.” The government had claimed that Rwanda and Uganda had agreed to take the refugees, which is apparently false. An editorial in Haaretz called on the government to stop lying and to adopt a reasonable policy towards these unfortunate asylum seekers who are fleeing war and genocide. The foul way the government has acted despite court orders is a shame to all of us. Instead of keeping the 37,000 asylum-seekers in Israel who were deported, allowing them to work and live with dignity, and dispersing them throughout the country so as not to burden long-time residents of south Tel Aviv, Israel — a state of refugees — insists on betraying the dictates of justice and undermining its own moral right to exist.
A movement of protest against these policies is rising. Hundreds of professionals including flight crews, school principals and psychologists have called on Israel to
halt deportations of asylum seekers or announced they would not cooperate with expulsions. For example, a letter by educators reads in part-  “We teach tens of thousands of students about our past as refugees, persecuted people and asylum seekers during the darkest periods of human history, out of a personal and professional commitment to ensure ‘never again” the principals wrote. “We believe that asylum seekers, like all people, are entitled to have their natural rights protected, by virtue of their being human beings, by
virtue of conventions that Israel has signed, and by virtue of the Declaration of Independence and Israel’s Jewish and human values.”
As Noa Yachot writes in 972-“Even as it invokes the Holocaust at every turn, Israel is feeding the people who most need its protection to a brutal human smuggling industry. In doing so, it becomes an active player in the worst migration crisis since the Jewish people’s near-extinction.”

Israeli progressives must continue the protest and hope that progressive Jews in the US will join in support. Already the plan for deporting tens of thousands of asylum seekers, most of them from Eritrea or Ethiopia, seems to have gone agley as happens to the best laid plans of mice and men. Of course, the pressure must be maintained. The only thing that will deter the likes of Netanyahu and Der’i is bad PR, especially abroad.

A FEW RANTS IN THE WAKE OF THE PENCE VISIT

When the US VP addressed the Knesset, the Arab members were evicted. It is a shame to admit that members of the left wing opposition sat quietly while this was happening. Prometheus and Pandora, both loyal supporters of Meretz (as well as their imaginary playmates, YandA) were appalled. They even sent Ms Tamar Zandberg, a Knesset member from Meretz, who is running for the leadership of the party, a tweet of protest that was neither acknowledged nor answered. Haaretz took them to task severely in an editorial with full justification.

Mr. Pence’s speech was a combination of bullshit, humbug and platitudes, but the audience, Israelis whose knowledge of Christian evangelical ideology is essentially zero, failed to understand the main point.  Amit Gevaryahu writing in Haaretz points out most correctly that as an evangelical Pence was making it clear that Israel is only a pawn in the process of bringing about the second coming of Christ. Gevaryahu sums up the essence of Pence’s speech-“…Regardless, per Pence, the tribulations and successes of the Jews are valuable only as pre-figurations and theological models for Christians. But the Jewish state is also necessary for his eschatology. Evangelicals like Pence see the urgent need to literally encourage Jews to return to Zion and to sovereignty as a critical step towards Christ’s second coming.”

The U.S. Vice President stood before the assembled delegates of the Jewish state and told them, right after talking about the Holocaust, that Abraham was not their father but that Abraham was his father.
…”And this too is the level to which Israel’s Knesset has stooped. Its overwhelming right-wing and religious majority obsequiously traded the historical Jewish claim to Abraham, the Torah, and redemption according to the Jewish narrative, for the lentil stew of American “recognition” of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the city where, Pence and others hope, Christian dreams may still come true.”

TIDBITS FROM SCIENCE

 New Egyptian dinosaur reveals ancient link between Africa and Europe

Mansourasaurus shahinae helps fill in gaps of African dinosaurs of Late Cretaceous

A new dinosaur fossil discovered in the Egyptian Sahara is contributing to our knowledge of dinosaur evolution.  As reported in Science Daily “When it comes to the final days of the dinosaurs, Africa is something of a blank page. Fossils found in Africa from the Late Cretaceous, the time period from 100 to 66 million years ago, are few and far between. That means that the course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Egyptian Sahara Desert, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in those gaps. “

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Skeletal reconstruction of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae from the Late Cretaceous of the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt. Bones shown in color are those that are preserved in the original fossil; other bones are based on those of closely related dinosaurs.
Credit: Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

 

SUCCESSFUL CLONING OF PRIMATES

A group of scientists led by Zhen Liu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has succeeded in cloning twin macaque monkeys. The work required years of experimentation by means of a method called somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT. This method was used twenty years ago to create Dolly, the first cloned sheep. Adapting the method to primates was by no means a trivial task. The effort finally delivered two twin monkeys, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. The scientific paper was published in Cell.

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Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua

RANT ON POLISH REWRITING OF HISTORY

The Polish parliament has approved a controversial law forbidding any mention of participation of the “Polish nation” in crimes committed during the Holocaust. The law also forbids use of the term “Polish death camp” to describe the death camps where Jews and others were murdered in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. Anyone who violates the new law, including non-Polish citizens, will be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.
This law has drawn criticism from around the world and especially from Israel and Jews. PM Netanyahu for once got it right “The law is baseless. I strongly oppose it. History cannot be changed and it is forbidden to deny the Holocaust. I ordered the Israeli embassy in Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister and express my firm stand against the law,” Netanyahu said.
Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, also condemned  the proposed law.  Yad Vashem noted, however, that Poland is right in its objection to the term “Polish death camps,” explaining that “there is no doubt that the term is a distortion of history. The death camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland with the intention of murdering Jews as part of the final solution. “

Indeed there were Poles who helped Jews and hid them, but  in truth  more than 200,000 Jews were killed, directly or indirectly, by Poles in World War II, says historian Jan Grabowski, who studied the brutal persecution of the victims. His conclusion: There were no bystanders in the Holocaust.

We  must,however, note that according to Yad Vashem the citizens of Poland have the world’s highest count of individuals who have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews from extermination during the Holocaust in World War II. There are 6,706 Polish men and women recognized as Righteous to this day, over a quarter of the total number of 26,513[ awards.

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Righteous Among the Nations medals and diplomas handed over during a ceremony in the Polish Senate on 17th April 2012

Nonetheless, Prometheus and Pandora strongly condemn this attempt to obscure the role played by Poland, a nation with a long history of antisemitism. They agree with Ofer Aderet who calls in Haaretz to leave the judgement of Poland’s role in WWII  to future historians.

BOOK REVIEW

The Politics of Opera: A History from Monteverdi to Mozart
Image of The Politics of Opera: A History from Monteverdi to Mozart
Author(s):
Mitchell Cohen
Release Date:
September 4, 2017
Publisher/Imprint:
Princeton University Press

This book has all the appearances of a fascinating read. To quote the review in the New York Review of Books by Larry Wolff (for subscribers only alas)  the above book has boldly placed Machiavelli and early modern political theory at the center of the early history of opera, reflecting creatively on the ways in which the reverberations of the great Florentine realist reached even into the musical realm. For just as The Prince
was presented as a precious gift precisely because it described and prescribed the conduct of princes, so the operas of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries placed princes on the stage and let them sing their political circumstances. The book gets a full open review by Lew Whittington in the New York Journal of Books. A less favorable review is given by Mark Berry in Times of Higher Education.

In the author’s discussion of the work of Mozart including the Marriage of Figaro, in which the aristocracy is ridiculed by Figaro’s defiance, we see an example of something subversive:

“Se vuol ballare, signor contino,
Il chitarrino le suonerò.”
[If you want to dance, little count,
I’ll play my little guitar.]
Nonetheless, it is clear that while the foundations of the old regime were tottering, Mozart was no real revolutionary. Cohen attributes the Contessa’s nostalgia in

“Dove sono i bei momenti di dolcezza e di piacer?”(“Where have they gone, the beautiful moments of sweetness and pleasure?”).
not only to her once happy marriage, but also to a feeling of loss as the times change.

Kiri Te Kanawa lets us hear it.

Recall this opera had its  premier in 1786, only three years before the fall of the Bastille. The censors allowed it to premier in Prague rather than Vienna. Riccardo Panela the operatic baritone who has played the role of the lecherous Count has written an interesting analysis of how shrewd self censorship by De Ponte and Mozart enabled the opera to reach the stage.

SILLY TIME

What If

Which has a greater gravitational pull on me: the Sun, or spiders? Granted, the Sun is much bigger, but it is also much further away, and as I learned in high school physics, the gravitational force is proportional to the square of the distance.

—Marina Fleming

Interesting for us geeks.

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A LANGUAGE LESSON OF SORTS AT THE SOUP KITCHEN

WE AGREE

Darwin  would have loved this:

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Find a cool WUMO here.

 

 

THE MIRIAM SHLESINGER HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION UPDATE JANUARY 18-24

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Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

Our featured image above shows the commitment of our featured charity to the issue of access to clean water everywhere.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

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Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

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CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the  Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. The stated mission is: “To advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.”

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is theft of their land. Raise your voice in protest.

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Damiana Cavanha, leader of the Apy Ka’y community, has seen the deaths of three of her children and her husband. She is determinedly planning a reoccupation of their ancestral land where they are buried.
© Paul Patrick Borhaug/Survival

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

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utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to  stop forced labor of prisoners in the USA.

us-detention-page-header

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action: Execution Set For Crime Man Cannot Remember

Vernon Madison is scheduled to be executed in Alabama on 25 January. His lawyers maintain that he lacks a rational understanding of the reason for his execution as a result of severe strokes which have left him with dementia and unable to remember the crime.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Urgent Action: Two Indigenous Activists Face Life Imprisonment

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Adivasi activists Judhishtira Jena and Babula Samal have been arrested for their role in the resistance to forced acquisition of land for a steel plant. Both men also face numerous other cases, some of which are with regard to alleged actions ten years ago. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

TAKE ACTION

UZBEKISTAN

Urgent Action Update: Independent Journalist Must Be Immediately Released

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On 10 January, the family of Uzbekistani independent journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev, held since 27 September 2017 in an Uzbekistani National Security Service (SNB) detention center, was allowed to see him for the first time in three months. While the family saw no visible signs of torture, concerns for his well being remain. He has had no access to independent legal representation since December 2017.

TAKE ACTION

IRAN

Esmail Abdi back in prison – free him now

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Tehran teacher union leader Esmail Abdi was taken back to the Evin prison on Saturday 20 January. Esmail Abdi had been released on furlough on 9 January. A temporary reprieve from his six-year sentence started in 2016. Iranian authorities denied extending his furlough, despite his poor health resulting from harsh detention conditions. Please join the protest.

Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update January 11-18

miriam

Miriam, Human Rights Defender, 1947-2012

Our featured image above shows a montage of human rights defenders. Women human rights defenders are women who raise their voices, risking their own safety to continue to protect and preserve human rights for all.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the Global Fund for Women. The mission statement:

“The Global Fund for Women is a global champion for the human rights of women and girls. We use our powerful networks to find, fund, and amplify the courageous work of women who are building social movements and challenging the status quo. We are committed to getting money and attention where it will make the biggest difference in the fight for gender equality. Since 1987, Global Fund for Women has invested in nearly 5,000 grassroots organizations in 175 countries, helping to win rights for millions of women and girls.”

This charity is highly rated by Charity Navigator.

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is land theft. Help oppose it by calling out the responsible governments.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to free girls and women from trafficking.

GOOD NEWS

Iranian education union leader Esmail Abdi released on furlough

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Esmail Abdi

Education International has been notified that Tehran teacher union leader Esmail Abdi was released on furlough from Evin prison on 9 January, a temporary reprieve from his six-year sentence.  Eric Lee has been pushing this case for a long time and has called for help from all of us. We shall continue to watch Esmail’s status.

URGENT ACTION CASES

KENYA

Urgent Action: Indigenous Community Forcibly Evicted

Kenyan authorities are forcibly evicting the Sengwer Indigenous community from their ancestral home, the Embobut forest. The evictions have been carried out by the authorities in violation of the Constitution, a High Court injunction and international human rights law, through a conservation project funded by the European Union.

TAKE ACTION

ECUADOR

Urgent Action: Attack Against Indigenous Defender

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Patricia Gualinga, Indigenous human rights defender, reported that on 5 January an unknown man attacked her home in Puyo, Pastaza province, throwing stones at the windows while yelling death threats against her.

TAKE ACTION

 

MYANMAR

Urgent Action: Two Journalists Face Up to 14 Years in Prison

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There were emotional scenes outside the Yangon courthouse

Two Reuters journalists have been formally charged with offenses under the Official Secrets Act in Myanmar. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on 12 December after meeting police. Both men must be immediately and unconditionally released and the charges against them dropped.

TAKE ACTION

FIJI

Hundreds march in support of Nadi airport workers

Workers at Fiji’s international airport have been locked out since before Christmas because they dared to challenge management.  Labourstart calls for continued support-please join the protest.

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People march in Nadi in support of ATS workers who claim they were locked out Photo: FTUC