The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update, June 7-13

Our featured image above shows our beloved Miriam, a great human rights defender.

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 Jane Godall Institute. The mission:

“We are a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.”

 

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.

This week we call your attention to the people who chose to live in isolation from the outside world on North Sentinal Island, one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They vigorously reject all contact with outsiders. View this video of a contact attempt.

https://assets.survivalinternational.org/films/71/embed

It is vital that their wish to remain uncontacted is respected – if not, the entire tribe could be wiped out by diseases to which they have no immunity. Contact imposed upon other Andaman tribes has had a devastating impact.

Following a campaign by Survival and local organizations, the Indian government abandoned plans to contact the Sentinelese.

Survival is campaigning to ensure that their current position – to not make further attempts to contact the tribe – is maintained.  Please join this campaign.

 

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 question who picked my tea?  

RANT ABOUT RAQQA

damage_children_sh2-750x422

This picture speaks for itself

The city of Raqqa in Syria was subjected to a major set of attacks by the US-led coalition. The attack was supposed to drive Daesh out ofits self-declared capital. The attack killed hundreds of civilians who had no way of escaping the city. Someone must be held accountable for this massive atrocity. Please open the link, read the devastating account and sign the letter to the US Secretary of Defense demanding an accounting for the killings.

In the end, Daesh was granted safe passage out of the town so the civilian deaths were for naught.

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action Victory! – Texas Court Issues Stay of Execution

On 5 June, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution for Clifton Williams, who was due to be executed in Texas on 21 June. The stay is so that there can be a hearing into the claim that Clifton Williams has intellectual disability.

Clifton Williams was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Cecilia Schneider during a burglary of her home in July 2005. At trial and on appeal, his lawyers claimed that he has intellectual disability, and that his execution would violate Atkins v. Virginia, the 2002 US Supreme Court ruling banning the death penalty on individuals with such disabilities. The Atkins ruling left it to states to determine how to meet the constitutional ban. In the absence of a law passed by the legislature, in 2004 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) created a framework for the assessment of claims of intellectual disability in capital cases (known as the ‘Briseño factors’). From the outset there was concern that this framework was non-scientific and that it under-protected individuals Atkins intended to exempt from execution. It was not until Moore v. Texas in 2017 that the US Supreme Court found the Briseño factors to be “an invention of the CCA untied to any acknowledged source” and contravened its rule, articulated in Hall v. Florida in 2014, that adjudications of intellectual disability must be “informed by the views of medical experts”.

By then, Texas courts had already determined that Clifton Williams did not have intellectual disability and the federal courts had affirmed that under the deferential standards for federal review of state court decisions. With an execution date of 21 June 2018 set, Clifton Williams’s lawyers sought to bring a new challenge in the courts in light of the Moore v. Texas decision in order to reopen their claim that he has intellectual disability. On 5 June, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay: “In light of the Moore decision and the facts presented in applicant’s application, we find that applicant has satisfied the requirements of [Texas law]. We remand his application to the convicting court for a live hearing to further develop evidence and make a new recommendation to this Court on the issue of intellectual disability.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally. Today there are 142 countries that are abolitionist in law or practice. There have been 1,476 executions in the USA since 1976 when the US Supreme Court approved new capital statutes. Texas accounts for 551 of these executions, or 37 per cent of the national total. There have been 11 executions in the USA this year, six of them in Texas.

Many thanks to all who sent appeals. No further action is requested at present.

 EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Urgent Action Victory! – Cartoonist and Activist Able to Leave the Country

Equatorial Guinean cartoonist and activist Ramón Esono Ebalé was finally able to leave Equatorial Guinea on 28 May after he was issued a passport by the authorities.

Equatorial Guinea authorities issued cartoonist and activist Ramón Esono Ebalé with a passport on 23 May. This enabled him to finally leave the country on 28 May, more than two months after his release from prison. He will be reunited with his wife and daughter whom he has not seen since his arrest.

Ramón Esono Ebalé was released from Malabo prison of Black Beach on 7 March. Eight days before his release, the state dropped the charge of ‘counterfeiting money’ against Ramón after the state’s main witness retracted his testimony and admitted that he had been asked to falsely accuse Ramón of counterfeiting activities.

Ramón was arrested and detained on 16 September 2017 in the capital of the country, Malabo and questioned over his cartoons, which criticised Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang and his government. During his detention, Amnesty International considered Ramón Esono Ebalé to be a prisoner of conscience who had been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression through art.

On behalf of Ramón, his family and his friends, we express thanks to all those who took action. Without your support, Ramón’s release and reunion with his family would have not been possible.

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

 

ZAMBIA

Urgent Action Update: ACTIVIST RELEASED ON BAIL, SET TO STAND TRIAL

Image result for pilato

Fumba Chama, affectionately known as Pilato, was released on a US$3000  bail on 21 May. His trial will begin on 25 June. Pilato was arrested on 16 May on arrival at Kenneth Kaunda Airport in Lusaka. He had been forced to flee the country on 5 January after receiving threats on his life from members of the ruling Party, Patriotic Front.

TAKE ACTION 

TURKEY

Urgent Action: Detained Rapper Accused Of Promoting Drugs

Image result for ezhel

Rapper, Ezhel, was remanded on pre-trial detention on 23 May accused of ‘publicly promoting drug use’ in his lyrics, music videos and social media posts. He faces up to 10 years imprisonment if he is found guilty.

TAKE ACTION

GUATEMALA

Urgent Action Update: TWO MORE LAND DEFENDERS KILLED

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Human rights defenders Florencio Pérez Nájera and Alejandro Hernández García from the Campesino Development Committee (Comité de Desarrollo Campesino, CODECA) were violently murdered on 4 June. Authorities must end this wave of killings, which add up to 6 human rights defenders killed in Guatemala in less than a month.

TAKE ACTION

Turkey

After nearly a year on the picket lines, it’s time for DPDHL to negotiate with the union

TÜMTIS members have been on the picket line for more than 300 days (since 17 July 2017), protesting against DPDHL Express’ denial of their right to a collective bargaining agreement.

We urge DHL Express Turkey to move swiftly to negotiations. Please lend your support to these workers.

INDIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-union harassment and victimization escalate at AB InBev Sonepat India. Please support the protesting workers. Management at global brewer AB InBev’s plant in Sonepat, India is escalating its attacks on trade union rights.  Please click and join the protesting workers.

USA DISNEYLAND

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Disneyland’s workers are undervalued, disrespected and underpaid

A survey by the LATimes shows that while Disneyland is a happy place to visit, it is by no means a happy place to work. Disneyland employees report that they struggle to make ends meet and pay for basic necessities as a result of pay cuts and low wages; two-thirds don’t have enough food to eat and 1 in 10 have recently been homeless. Meanwhile, Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, reportedly made over $36 million in 2017 alone, and over the next four years will make the same as 6,178 of his employees. Where is the justice?  Please sign the petition on behalf of these struggling workers.

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 24-30

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012) a dear friend and a great human rights defender

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 Fistula Foundation. Fistula is a childbirth injury largely eradicated in the developed world, but still devastating women in the poorest countries. It leaves the woman incontinent with catastrophic results for her family and social life.
It’s treatable with life-transforming surgery.

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.

The Kawahiva

In the Brazilian Amazon, a tiny group of uncontacted Indians teeters on the brink of extinction. Survival’s global campaign is pushing Brazil’s government to protect their land – the only way they can survive. Please open the link to see the video about them.

The tribe is forced to live on the run, fleeing violence from outsiders. Attacks and disease have killed their relatives.

The loggers are getting closer.

These are the Last of the Kawahiva. And their genocide will be complete unless their land is protected.

You can help us secure it for them: Together, we can give the Kawahiva a future.

 

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 ensure freedom and safety for girls.

Pledge to join the fight for Freedom For Girls

This is a video for girls day, which comes in October. Relevant every day.

 

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

COLOMBIA

Urgent Action Update: Attack Causes Forced Displacement

https://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2018/3/10/904e0efb64d64dbaa3639f35a2b8b137_18.jpg

An elder Yukpa woman is braiding a basket that are sold to help support the community [Bram Ebus/Al Jazeera]

The binational Indigenous Yukpa people living in Cúcuta, in the east of Colombia, suffered an armed attack on 17 May followed by their forced displacement.

TAKE ACTION

MEXICO

Urgent Action: Indigenous Defender Killed, Others at Risk

Manuel-Gaspar-puebla-activista1
Indigenous environmental rights defender Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez was found dead on 14 May in Cuetzalan, Puebla state. He was one of a number of defenders facing criminal investigation for their opposition to the construction of a high-voltage power line. These defenders are at grave risk and have recently been subject to attacks and intimidation.

TAKE ACTION

NIGERIA

Urgent Action: Displaced Women, Children Denied Right to Food

Displaced-North-east-Women-Protest

A group of approximately 230 internally displaced women (known as the Knifar movement) and their children risk starvation as authorities have stopped supplying food to the IDP camp they have been living in since 2017. Food was last delivered to the camp on 18 April and it did not even last one week. There has been no communication from camp authorities on why the supply stopped. Women and their children have been left with no alternative means of getting food.

TAKE ACTION

ECUADOR

Oil giant Chevron dumped billions of gallons of deadly chemicals in the Ecuadorian Amazon, leaving behind rivers full of toxic waste, decimating wildlife and spreading cancer and death in indigenous communities.

They’ve never cleaned it up! But Chevron’s impunity could finally end if we persuade just one man to do the right thing.

Chevron’s top stockholder is a US retirement fund whose chair has challenged corporate abuse before, and his customers are part of this community! If we flood him with support in the next 24 hours he could tip a historic vote — at Chevron’s shareholder meeting tomorrow. Add your name now!

RUSSIA/SYRIA

Sign the petition to all World Cup 2018 leaders and teams:

“As citizens from around the world, we urge you not to attend Russia’s World Cup unless it stops dropping bombs on children in Syria. No country, team or player should condone these crimes against humanity by lauding the Russian regime at the games. We call on you to make sure sport is used for peace, not to sponsor war.”

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 17-23

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great human rights defender

 

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 call your attention to Labourstart, who are a nonprofit offering help and support to working people around the globe. As you know, we use their web site to look for human rights issues in the world of labor. Please donate to support their work.

lsistanbul2011

 

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.

This week we look at the the Dongria Kondh tribe that inspired millions when they won a ‘David and Goliath’ battle against mining giant Vedanta Resources. The tribe vowed to save their Niyamgiri Hills and their self-sufficient way of life.

Now their lands and lives are under threat again. Their leaders are being harassed by police and imprisoned under false charges. The Dongria feel the government is trying to destroy their community in order to allow mining.  Please post their story on all your social media and help generate pressure on the Indian government. Please open the link to hear from the people themselves.

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 help end slavery in the supply chain of the soft drink business in the US.

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

SUDAN

Urgent Action: 19-year-old Noura sentenced to death for killing her rapist.

Nineteen year old, Noura Hussein Hamad Daoud, was sentenced to death on 10 May for killing her husband in self-defense after he tried to rape her for a second time. A Court in Sudan, on 29 April, found her guilty of the murder of her husband Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad. Noura’s case highlights the failure of the Sudan government to tackle the tragedy of early and forced marriage as well as marital rape.

TAKE ACTION

GUATEMALA

Urgent Action: Three Land Defenders Killed, Others at Risk

Image result for Guatemala land defenders

Luis Marroquin, José Can Xol and Mateo Chamám Paau, three land and territory defenders from different communities in Guatemala were killed in less than a week. Guatemalan authorities must take action to fully investigate these crimes and ensure that other defenders can carry out their work without fear for their safety.

TAKE ACTION

VIETNAM

Urgent Action: Serious Health Concerns For Prisoner of Conscience

Image result for trần anh kim

Trần Anh Kim was convicted and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the Peoples’ administration” in 2016. At 69 years of age, his health is deteriorating and according to his wife, “may not survive his lengthy imprisonment” as authorities have denied him adequate medical care. A prisoner of conscience, Trần Anh Kim must be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

MALDIVES

Urgent Action: Up to 20 Years in Prison on Trumped-Up Charges

Ahmed Mahloof faces charges of “terrorism” and “obstruction of police duty” for taking part in peaceful protests, along with charges of “false reporting” for two tweets about the police service. If found guilty of the trumped-up and politically motivated charges, the independent Maldivian politician could face nearly 20 years in prison.

TAKE ACTION

FRANCE

Rail unions fight against privatization

 

 

 

 
The French railway workers have expressed their strong disapproval of the proposed reform of the railway system leading towards privatization.
Please show your support by sending your message to the French government. If it comes up with my data, simply erase and put in your own.

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 4-16

Our featured image shows Miriam, (1947-2012) our great human rights defender.

Holiday greetings and good wishes for

  • Shavuot Jews
  • Ramadan Muslims
  • Pentecost Christians
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”.

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

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the work of the Mercy Corps who are active worldwide. We focus on their work in Venezuela which is rapidly becoming a failed state. The humanitarian crisis there is such that a newborn in Syria has a better chance of survival than a newborn in Venezuela. Please click and donate.

Once people had good jobs, now they struggle to survive from day to day

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. This week we focus our attention on the so-called Pygmies of Central Africa and their abuse.

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 join over 2,000,000 people who’ve taken action to fight against modern slavery. You can make a difference under 30 seconds.

URGENT ACTION CASES

SOUTH KOREA

Urgent Action Victory! – Activist’s Not-Guilty Verdict Upheld on Appeal

Lee Jin-young, operator of the online library ‘Labour Books’, was found not guilty of charges under the National Security Law at the Seoul High Court on 11 April 2018. This verdict was made following an appeal by the prosecution to a ruling on 20 July 2017 which found Lee Jin-young not guilty.

Lee Jin-young, labour activist and owner of the online library ‘Labour Books’, was arrested and detained on 5 January 2017, and officially charged on 3 February, for violating Article 7 of the National Security Law (NSL) after distributing materials that allegedly benefit “anti-government organizations”. Held in detention since his arrest, including periods of solitary confinement, he was finally released on 20 July 2017 after the Seoul Southern District Court ruled that he was not guilty.

Following an appeal to the verdict by the prosecution, a second trial was held at the Seoul High Court and the ruling of not-guilty was upheld on 11 April 2018. While the prosecution can appeal one more time, the risk of the ruling being overturned is considered to be small, and the likelihood that Lee Jin-young may again be detained for exercising his right to freedom of expression is rather low.

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

Israel/OPT

Urgent Action Victory! – Israeli Government Stops Forced Deportations

The Israeli government has declared that it will not pursue forcible deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to third countries under the Israeli ‘Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries’. This follows the release of 280 asylum-seekers who had been detained as a result of the policy, after an order by the High Court of Justice.

Israeli authorities have now declared that they will not forcibly deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers from Israel to an African “third country”. They will no longer be issuing deportation notices and conducting deportation hearings. However, the government has declared that Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers, considered by Israel to be “infiltrators”, will still be encouraged to “voluntarily” leave Israel.

The Israeli authorities should ensure that Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers are provided with documentation allowing them to live and work regularly in Israel and protecting them from unlawful detention and deportation. The authorities should under no circumstance pressure African asylum-seekers to “voluntarily” leave Israel when the time comes to renew their visas, in accordance with their international obligations not to transfer anyone to a country where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations, or where they would not be protected against such transfer.

From 4 February 2018, 280 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers who were already held in Holot detention centre, located in the Negev/Naqab desert, were issued deportation notices under Israel’s new ‘Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries’. Having refused to leave Israel, they were then detained in the Saharonim prison while awaiting deportation. All the 280 asylum-seekers were released between 2 and 15 April 2018, as ordered by the High Court of Justice, in the context of a case on the legality of Israel’s deportations to unspecified “third countries” in Africa, widely believed to be Uganda and Rwanda. The High Court ordered the government to stop the deportations after it failed to provide additional information on the deportation agreements. However, the 280 asylum-seekers were only granted one-month visas, which forbid them from working and living in the seven largest cities in Israel.

Those released included “Tesfai” (not his real name), a 29-year-old Eritrean asylum-seeker who had his asylum claim rejected without explanation. He was arrested in November 2017 for not having a valid visa. After 100 days in detention, he was told to leave Israel to go to Rwanda. When he refused, he was detained under the new policy introduced by the Israeli Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) for not cooperating with his removal.

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

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Poet Under Illegal House Arrest ‘Prepared to Die’

Liu Xia, widow of late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, kept crying during a recent recorded telephone conversation and said that she is prepared to die. Diagnosed as clinically depressed, Liu Xia’s well-being is the subject of serious concern after repeated empty promises by the Chinese authorities to allow her to leave China.

TAKE ACTION

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action: Peaceful Protester in Pre-Trial Detention

Image result for Mikhail Tsakunov

On 7 May, Dzerzhinsky District Court in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, remanded Mikhail Tsakunov in pre-trial detention until 4 July for alleged use of violence against a police officer. If found guilty, Mikhail Tsakunov could face 10 years in prison. However, the charges against him contravene publicly available video footage.

TAKE ACTION

COLOMBIA

Urgent Action Update: Yet Another Environmental Defender Killed

Image result for Hugo Albeiro George Pérez and Luis Alberto Torres Montoya

In less than a week, two members of the Ríos Vivos (Living Rivers) Movement have been killed in Antioquia, Colombia. The lives of other Ríos Vivos members are at risk as they continue demonstrating against the Hidroituango hydroelectric project.

TAKE ACTION

SUDAN

Urgent Action 19-year-old Noura sentenced to death for killing her rapist.

Demand justice for Noura >

Noura Hussein had already endured rape by the man she was forced to marry. Her husband and rapist, Hammad, got his two brothers and a male cousin to pin her down while he did it. When he tried to rape her again, she used a kitchen knife to protect herself. In the ensuing struggle, Hammad sustained fatal knife wounds. Now, at just 19 years old, Noura has been charged with murder and sentenced to death. We can’t allow this injustice to happen – please help and send an urgent email now to try and get justice for Noura.

TAKE ACTION

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Urgent Action: Human Rights Activist Unable to Leave Country

Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist and human rights activist who spent almost five months in prison after being falsely accused of counterfeiting money, remains unable to leave Equatorial Guinea due to authorities failing to provide him with a passport.

TAKE ACTION

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 3-9

Our Featured Image above shows Miriam, 1947-2012, a great human rights defender

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 feature the International Rescue Committee aka IRC.

The mission, in part:
The IRC will put in place high-impact, cost-effective solutions that help people affected by crisis. We’ll also use our learning and experience to shape humanitarian policy and practice in ways that improve the lives of more people worldwide. And in all of our work we will focus on breaking down each of the barriers faced by women and girls.

The world’s more than 60 million displaced people, the highest number ever recorded, require more than “aid as usual.” Their growing and increasingly complex needs mandate a transformation—a creative rethinking—in the global humanitarian response. The International Rescue Committee has taken on this challenge.

The charity is highly rated by Charity Watch and worthy of your donation.

Education: ultimate empowerment tool

 

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 abuse by so-called conservation organizations that team up with industries to drive out tribal people. Please join the call for a new approach to conservation.

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 steps to end slavery now.

URGENT ACTION CASES

AZERBAIJAN

Urgent Action Victory! Supreme Court Orders Journalist’s Release

 

On 5 April, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court ordered the release of independent journalist and prisoner of conscience, Aziz Orujov on a suspended three-year sentence with three-year probation. On 15 December 2017, Aziz Orujov was found guilty of abusing official powers and illegal entrepreneurship, under Articles 308.2 and 192.2.2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan respectively, and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. The latter charge was quashed while the ‘abuse of official power’ charge was re-qualified for a lesser charge, which carries a maximum three year imprisonment penalty.

Aziz Orujov was arrested on 2 May 2017 while on his way to work and remanded in pre-trial detention under a 30 day administrative detention order for purportedly disobeying a police officer’s legitimate orders. On 2 June 2017, when his administrative detention order was due to expire, new fabricated charges of illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of official powers were brought against him. The charges relate to him being the co-founder of the Caucasus Media Investigations Centre Public Union, an organisation he founded in 2006 with his brother and sister-in-law. The prosecution claims that from 2006 to 2014 the organisation received around AZN 193,000 (US$ 113,000) in grants from various donors, and failed to register the grants and pay AZN 8,000 in tax. Registration and taxing of grants only became mandatory in February 2014 when legislative amendments entered into force, but the authorities have applied these retroactively to intimidate, harass, arrest and prosecute a number of government critics from independent media outlets and NGOs. Amnesty International believes Aziz Orujov’s conviction stems solely from his peaceful work as a journalist.

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

UKRAINE

Urgent Action Victory! – Women’s Rights Activists No Longer at Imminent Risk

Following the attacks that marred International Women’s Day in Ukraine on 8 March, Vitaliana Koval and other women’s and LGBTI rights defenders in Ukraine are no longer considered to be facing an imminent threat of violence. Vitalina Koval has since received adequate protection measures during a public action she staged on 31 March, calling against the impunity of far-right groups in Ukraine.

On 31 March, Uzhgorod police successfully ensured the protection of those who attended a public action calling “For European Uzhgorod! Against impunity of the far-right”, organized by women’s and LGBTI rights defender, Vitalina Koval. The action was held in response to a series of attacks and threats by far-right groups in Uzhgorod, Ukraine, which marred International Women’s Rights Day on 8 March. Many Uzhgorod march participants, including event organiser Vitalina Koval, Ivan Danatsko and Ivan Dyulay, were attacked, while others like Aleksandr Peresolyak were later targeted and threatened with violence. In Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine, attackers threw bricks at a tram car carrying activists who were leaving the march, but despite available video evidence of the attack no one was arrested. Later in the day, another participant in the demonstration suffered from a fractured skull after reportedly being beaten by far-right activists near his home.

In Uzhgorod, the police detained the group of attackers who doused march participants in red paint, only to release them a few hours later. Meanwhile in Kyiv, not only did the police not apprehend the attackers, who also threw paint, they took one of the event organisers to the police station, Olena Shevchenko to submit an administrative protocol for alleged “violation of order to conduct public demonstrations.” On 15 March, Shevchenkivskyi Disctrict Court in Kyiv ruled she had committed no offence and closed the case.

Vitalina Koval told Amnesty International that she credits in large part the steps the police took to protect the 31 March action to the number of appeals the police told her they received. She went on to share her heartfelt thanks to all those who took action on the case. ‘It was very heart-warming to receive support’ she says. ‘When you see that so many people support you, it helps you to calm down, gain confidence in oneself and it gives you strength to move on.’

While Amnesty International welcomes the steps taken by Uzhgorod police to ensure the action on 31 March was held in a safe and enabling environment, and encourages it to provide the same protection measures for future actions and events, an effective investigation into the 8 March attacks has yet to be carried out.

Amnesty International will continue to monitor the situation and calls on both Uzhgorod’s Head of the National Police in Uzhgorod and the Minister of Interior to ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into all attacks perpetrated against activists on and around 8 March by right-wing individuals is carried out, and that those responsible are held to account.

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

BAHRAIN

Urgent Action Victory! – Prisoner of Conscience Released

On 26 March, political activist and prisoner of conscience, Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was released from Jaw prison, in the Bahraini capital, Manama. He served three years in prison on charges of “spreading false information that could damage military operations of Bahrain and its allies and calling for resistance”.

Prisoner of conscience and political activist Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was released on 26 March 2018, after having served his three-year prison sentence in Jaw prison, south-eastern Bahrain. He was the former Secretary General of the Unitary National Democratic Assemblage, an opposition party also known as al-Wahdawi party.

Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed, was arrested on 26 March 2015, the day his party issued a statement denouncing the airstrikes in Yemen. The same day, the Ministry of Interior announced Bahrain’s support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen and issued a statement warning that the government would take steps against any “attempt to exploit the situation through division or sedition, or issuance of statements against the approach Bahrain has taken”. His trial before the High Criminal Court in Manama started on 27 April 2015. On 28 June 2015, he was sentenced to five years in prison for “spreading false information that could damage military operations of Bahrain and its allies and calling for resistance”. On 26 October 2016, the High Court of Appeals reduced the sentence to three years.

Amnesty International believes that Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was tried and convicted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and has not used or advocated violence.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. Amnesty International will continue to monitor Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed’s case. No further action is requested by the UA Network.

BAHRAIN

Urgent Action Victory! – Prisoner of Conscience Released

On 26 March, political activist and prisoner of conscience, Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was released from Jaw prison, in the Bahraini capital, Manama. He served three years in prison on charges of “spreading false information that could damage military operations of Bahrain and its allies and calling for resistance”.

Prisoner of conscience and political activist Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was released on 26 March 2018, after having served his three-year prison sentence in Jaw prison, south-eastern Bahrain. He was the former Secretary General of the Unitary National Democratic Assemblage, an opposition party also known as al-Wahdawi party.

Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed, was arrested on 26 March 2015, the day his party issued a statement denouncing the airstrikes in Yemen. The same day, the Ministry of Interior announced Bahrain’s support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen and issued a statement warning that the government would take steps against any “attempt to exploit the situation through division or sedition, or issuance of statements against the approach Bahrain has taken”. His trial before the High Criminal Court in Manama started on 27 April 2015. On 28 June 2015, he was sentenced to five years in prison for “spreading false information that could damage military operations of Bahrain and its allies and calling for resistance”. On 26 October 2016, the High Court of Appeals reduced the sentence to three years.

Amnesty International believes that Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed was tried and convicted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and has not used or advocated violence.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. Amnesty International will continue to monitor Fadhel Abbas Mahdi Mohamed’s case. No further action is requested by the UA Network.

USA

Urgent Action: Urge Governor Not to Veto Abolition Bill

A bill abolishing the death penalty in the US state of New Hampshire, passed by its legislature, is due go to the Governor. He has said that he will veto it. He should sign it or allow it to become law and make New Hampshire the 20th abolitionist state in the USA.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Fears for Detained Human Rights Defender’s Life

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Huang Qi, founder and director of Sichuan-based human rights website “64 Tianwang” (64tianwang.com), is seriously ill with no apparent access to adequate medical care at the detention centre. Detained since November 2016, the human rights defender has reported several incidents of torture and other ill-treatment by police officers and beatings by other detainees.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

[Extended Deadline] Urgent Action Update: Former POC Feared To Be In Detention Again

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The whereabouts of Human Rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng remains a mystery after he has been missing for over three months. Conflicting accounts have emerged as to his exact location and current condition. Given his previous treatment in detention, and without access to a lawyer, he is at high risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Urgent Action Update: Administrative Detention Term Extended for Activist

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Human rights defender Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ has been held in administrative detention for over six months and, following a decision by the High Court on 26 April 2018, will continue to be detained without charge until August 2018. Under the National Security Act, he is at risk of being detained for up to 12 months without charge or trial.

TAKE ACTION

Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update April 26-May 2

Our featured image shows Miriam, a human rights defender, 1947-2012

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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”.

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

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CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the issue of domestic violence in Israel. We call your attention to the charity No2Violence, founded in 1977 by Ruth Resnick.

“No2Violence” was established in 1977 in Herzliya, in order to save women and children suffering from domestic violence, enabling them to leave and start a new life by providing them with shelter, professional help, vocational training, legal aid and by raising awareness about domestic violence.

“No2Violence”‘s main activity is the management and operation of 3 shelters for abused women and their children.

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A drawing  by a child in  a shelter–the words are “broken heart.”

 

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 forced “development”. 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.

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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 in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan!

URGENT ACTION CASES

TURKEY

In Turkey today, it’s dangerous to speak your mind.

Since the July 2016 failed coup attempt, more than 100,000 people have faced criminal investigations and possible prosecution, and more than 50,000 people have been imprisoned pending trial. Turkey is also the biggest jailer of journalists, with more than 120 finding themselves behind bars, simply for doing their job.

Those who continue to speak out and stand up for human rights in Turkey are paying a heavy price.

Being exposed to smear campaigns on social media and in pro-government media is often just the beginning. At any moment they might be arrested and find themselves in prison for months on baseless charges. This climate of fear leads to self-censorship. Activists start hesitating to raise their voices, knowing they could be thrown in jail for what they say.

As human rights lawyer Eren Keskin told Amnesty: “I try to express my views freely but I am also acutely aware of thinking twice before speaking or writing.”

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Eren Keskin has been repeatedly prosecuted over several decades. ©Amnesty International

Please click and join the campaign.

IRAN

Urgent Action Update: Iranian Trade Unionist on Hunger Strike

Iranian trade unionist Esmail Abdi started a hunger strike on 24 April,
to protest against the treatment of teachers and workers in Iran, on the
one hand, and the denial of his requests for prison leave, on the other.
Esmail Abdi is a prisoner of conscience serving a six-year sentence in
Tehran’s Evin prison for his peaceful trade union activities.

TAKE ACTION

PAKISTAN

Urgent Action: Disappeared Human Rights Defender at Risk of Torture

Deedar Ali Shabrani, a journalist from Pakistan’s Sindh province, is believed to have been forcibly disappeared and may be at high risk of torture and death. No information about his whereabouts are known since he was taken from his home by armed men in the early hours of 16 December 2017.

TAKE ACTION

NICARAGUA

Urgent Action: State Repressing Demonstrators

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Nicaraguan authorities have responded violently to demonstrations taking place throughout the country by repressing protesters, and violating their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. At least 28 people have been killed in this context since 18 April, including students.

TAKE ACTION
CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Chinese Activist’s 8 Year Sentence Upheld

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Prominent Chinese activist Wu Gan (better known by his pen name Tufu, ‘The Butcher’) continues to face grave risks of torture and other ill-treatment after the Tianjin Municipal High People’s Court rejected his appeal and upheld his sentence of eight years’ imprisonment for subverting state power.

TAKE ACTION

 

Prometheus and Pandora XIV

In our  featured image above, we show Prometheus looking out at the world and wondering if giving fire to humans was such a great idea.

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.

IN MEMORIAM Milos Forman 1932-2018

Born on February 18, 1932, in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia, Milos Forman was a New Wave filmmaker before immigrating to the United States, later earning a directing Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He returned to his homeland to film Amadeus, an acclaimed venture that  won eight Oscars, including another directing prize for Forman. Among his other works are The People vs. Larry Flynt, Valmont and Man on the Moon.

 

Milos Forman

Forman died on April 13, 2018 in Hartford, Connecticut at Danbury Hospital after a brief illness, according to his wife Martina who told CTK, Czech’s news agency. She described his passing as “calm, and he was surrounded the whole time by his family and his closest friends.”

A detailed obituary can be found in the NYTimes.

Rest in Peace–you enriched the lives of all of us.

RANTS OF THE MONTH

This month in Israel is marked by three national secular holidays, Holocaust Memorial Day, National Memorial Day and Independence Day. Prometheus and Pandora will rant about them in this blog.

 

RANT FOR MEMORIAL DAY/INDEPENDENCE DAY/HOPE FOR PEACE

We have a strange custom in Israel, Memorial Day is the day before Independence Day and since Jewish holidays begin and  end at sunset, we have a discontinuity that jars some of us every year. Others approve saying that we should appreciate the cost of independence before we start to celebrate it. After 70 years we have achieved much, even peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but real peace and security are still out of our reach. We may have peace with a few governments, but we do not have real peace yet with the people whom they rule. In truth our government today does not seek true peace with our Palestinian neighbors nor is most of our public willing to make the concessions needed for such a peace. Thus we ride the hobby horse to nowhere as expressed by the late cartoonist Dosh.

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Prometheus and Pandora wish now to turn away from the “big picture” and focus their attention and yours on two bereaved families, Rami and Nurit Elhanan and Bassam and Slawa Aramin. Their bond  is grief for their daughters, Smadar Elhanan who was killed by a suicide bomber at age 14 and Abir Aramin who was shot by an Israeli soldier at age 10. As Avi Oz, the theater director wrote on Facebook–never mind Memorial Day, just look at the eyes of these two lovely girls who fell victims to the blind hatred that pollutes our world and weep.

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Who are we to say anything? We   quote verbatim the Facebook post of Rami Elhanan. We can say no more.

“I do not need a Remembrance Day in order to remember Smadari. I remember her all the time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 60 seconds a minute. Without a pause, without a rest, for 20 long and accursed years now, and time does not heal the wound, and the unbearable lightness of continuing to exist remains a strange and unsolved riddle …

But Israeli society very much needs Remembrance Days  .From year to year, like clockwork, in the week after Passover, it is drawn into the annual ritual: from Holocaust to the Rebirth of the nation, a sea of ceremonies, sirens and songs – an entire people is swept into a whirlpool of addictive sweet sorrow, eyes tearful and shrouded; mutual embraces accompanied by “Occupation songs” and sickle and sword songs (the sword and sickle songs of the singing company of the Nahal (a brigade in the Israeli army)),  against the background of images of lives that were cut short and heart-rending stories … and it is hard to avoid the feeling that this refined concentration of bereavement, fed directly into the vein, is intended to fortify our feeling of victimhood, the justice of our path and our struggle, to remind us of our catastrophes, which God forbid we should forget for a single moment. This is the choice of our lives – to be armed and ready, strong and resolute, lest the sword fall from our grasp and our lives be cut short.

And when all this great sorrow is dispersed with the smoke of the barbecues, (it is customary for Israelis to celebrate with barbecues on Independence Day) when Israelis return to their daily routines, I am left enveloped in great sorrow. I miss the old good Land of Israel that never existed, and I have feelings of alienation and estrangement that keep increasing with the passage of years, from war to war, from election to election, from corruption to corruption.

And I think about the stations of my life, on the long journey that I have taken on my way to a redefinition of myself, of my Israeliness, of my Jewishness and of my humanity. About the light-years that I have traveled, from the young man who 44 years ago fought in a pulverized tank company, on the other side of the Suez Canal, from the young father who 35 years ago walked the streets of bombed Beirut, and it did not at all occur to me that things could be otherwise. I was a pure product of a cultural-educational and political system that brainwashed me, poisoned my consciousness and prepared me and others of my generation for sacrifice on the altar of the homeland, without any superfluous questions, in the innocent belief that if we did not do it, they would throw us – the second generation after the Holocaust– into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nearly 40 years have passed since then, and every year this armor of victimhood continues to crack. The self-righteousness and the feeling of wretchedness keep dissipating, and the wall that separates me from the other side of the story keeps crumbling.

When Yitzhak Frankenthal recruited me to the Bereaved Families Forum 19 years ago, for the first time in my life I was exposed to the very existence of the other side – to this day I am ashamed to say that for the first time in my life (I was 47)  I encountered Palestinians as normal human beings, very much like me, with the same pain, the same tears and the same dreams. For the first time in my life I was exposed to the story, the pain and the anger, and also to the nobility and the humanity of what is called “the other side.”

The climax of that journey was the meeting between me and my brother, the “terrorist” who spent seven years in an Israeli prison, the peace-warrior Bassam Aramin, who wrote to us, among other things, the following moving words:
“…Dear Nurit and Rami. I wanted to express my identification with you
as a brother on this sad day, the anniversary of the death of your
beautiful and pure daughter, Smadar. There is no doubt that this is
one of the saddest days, and from the moment we met I did not have
the courage to write to you about it, for fear of adding more
sorrow and pain to your hearts. I thought that time would likely
heal that deep wound. But after I myself drank from that same
bitter cup that you drank from before me, when my daughter Abir was
murdered on 16 January 2007, I understood that parents never forget
for a moment. We live our lives in a special way that others do not
know, and I hope that no other human beings, Palestinians or
Israelis, will not be forced to know …”

Today my perception of the two sides is completely different from what it was 40 years ago. For me, the line that separates the two sides today is not between Arabs and Israelis or Jews and Muslims. Today the line is between those who want peace and are ready to pay the price for it, and all the rest. They are the other side! And today, that other side, to
my dismay, is the corrupt group of politicians and generals that leads us and behaves like a bunch of mafia dons, war criminals, who play ping-pong in blood among themselves, who sow hatred and reap death.”

Let us add the speech of another bereaved father,  David Grossman, the famous writer. He speaks in Hebrew with English subtitles:

INDEPENDENCE–AFTER 70 YEARS

Back to the big picture. For 70 years we have lived here as the State of Israel and we are still not integrated politically into the region. Most of us in the peace camp have supported the idea of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and economic partnership. The continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank has probably voided any chance of success of this vision. The writer A. B. Yehoshua proposes an alternative solution, which some may regard as visionary or deluded. Read his essay and think for yourself.

NATALIE PORTMAN AND BOYCOTT

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The actress Natalie Portman who was chosen as the 2018 Genesis Laureate has announced that she will not come to Israel to accept it from the Prime Minister Netanyahu. The reaction from the establishment in Israel borders on the hysterical. even calling her antisemitic. She also has her supporters, such as Gideon Levy in Haaretz and Amy Spiro in the Jerusalem Post. Prometheus and Pandora agree with the sentiments she expressed in her Instagram statement . One might argue that she could have done what the writer Ian McEwan did when he received the Jerusalem Book Prize. He came to Jerusalem and spoke hard truth to power, about the occupation and the wholesale violation of human rights. Nonetheless, she took a positive step and we salute her for it.

We append her statement in which it is clear that she is not a BDS supporter.

“My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others. Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want
to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a  speech at the ceremony. By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power. Please do not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own. This experience has inspired me to support a number of charities in Israel. I will be announcing them soon, and I hope others will join me in supporting  the great work they are doing.”

A RANT ABOUT ASYLUM SEEKERS

The following is a quote from the web site of the UN agency that deals with refugees.

“The world is witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people, who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.”

Israel has tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from African countries. It has been trying to get rid of them by whatever means. A deal was set to stop the forced deportation to Africa from Israel of asylum seekers, resettle 16,000 of them in
Israel and the same number in Western countries. Netanyahu hours later decided to suspend the deal, even though he had already signed it, following pressure from within his party and from coalition members.

Netanyahu announced the cancellation of the deal at the start of a meeting he held with residents of south Tel Aviv.“I listened closely to many comments about the agreement,” Netanyahu said. “After reevaluating the advantages and disadvantages [of the deal], I decided to cancel the deal.”

Bradley Burston, writing in Haaretz in English deplores the cancellation and takes issue with the racism involved in the actions of the government. There was popular protest against the mass deportation plan and now all seems to be back at square one, alas.

Israeli protest against the expulsion of African asylum seekers, in March 2018. Israeli protest against the expulsion of African asylum seekers, in March 2018. credit-Meged Gozani

 

A BIT MORE ON LIES FROM HIGH PLACES

In a previous blog Pandora and Prometheus ranted loud and clear about mendacity in the public sphere. They traced the history of the imperial lie from King Shalmaneser III of Assyria in the ninth century BCE down to Kellyann Conway and her “alternative facts”  in our time. We somehow overlooked the comments on the Pentagon Papers by Hannah Arendt in the New York Review of Books. She raises an interesting point, that the lies emanating from high places may be caused by the fact that many leaders live in a delusional world of their own making or created for them by their underlings.  We   strongly recommend that you read her article–it is as relevant today as it was in 1971. If the NYRB proves inaccessible, you can find the article here.

 

BOOK REVIEWS

Pandora and Prometheus  point you at the NYTimes editor’s choice in which Geoffrey Cowles, a Senior Book Editor, recommends 11 books and provides reviews.  The list includes fiction and nonfiction, original English and translations, and should keep you out of mischief for a while.

A BIT OF SCIENCE

Refining the fine-structure constant

The fine-structure constant, α, is a dimensionless constant that characterizes the strength of the electromagnetic interaction between charged elementary particles. Related by four fundamental constants, a precise determination of α allows for a test of the Standard Model of particle physics. Parker et al. used matter-wave interferometry with a cloud of cesium atoms to make the most accurate measurement of α to date. Determining the value of α to an accuracy of better than 1 part per billion provides an independent method for testing the accuracy of quantum electrodynamics and the Standard Model. It may also enable searches of the so-called “dark sector” for explanations of dark matter.

The answer: The fine-structure constant is approximately 1/137.035999046.

If the new measurement disagreed with the earlier one, that might be an indication of new particles. But the two agree reasonably well, which confirms that the electron is probably not composed of smaller particles and disfavors the possibility of dark photons. These hypothetical particles are similar to run-of-the-mill photons, or particles of light, but unlike normal photons would have mass and interact very weakly with known particles. Big news in geekdom/nerdsville–the rest may yawn and skip.

 

Weicheng Zhong

CONSTANT QUANTIFED A team of physicists, including Weicheng Zhong of the University of California, Berkeley (pictured) has performed the most precise measurement yet of the fine-structure constant, which governs the strength of electromagnetic interactions.

 

SILLY TIME

What If–?

If you did fall into Jupiter’s atmosphere in a submarine, what would it actually look like? What would you see before you melted or burned up?

—Ada Munroe

Interesting discussion

Bring up your kids to be ready for the real world:

It leads to this:

NICE TO HAVE A CHOICE