Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update Blog July 26-August 1

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 BRAC, (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (now Building Resources Across Communities) ) an international development organization based in Bangladesh.

It has a high rating from Charity Navigator.

Our Vision

A world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination where everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential.

Our Mission

Our mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our interventions aim to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programes that enable men and women to realise their potential.

Our Values

Integrity.
Innovation.
Inclusiveness.
Effectiveness.

 

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.

Please Help Uncontacted tribes

Uncontacted tribes are the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. They face catastrophe unless their land is protected. We’re doing everything we can to secure their land for them, and to give them the chance to determine their own futures.

Email the governments of Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and India, to allow uncontacted tribes to survive.

Sign the global declaration for uncontacted tribes.

Say NO to funding cuts which could wipe out uncontacted Indians in Brazil.

Help the Yanomami Indians of Venezuela and Brazil who are dying from a devastating measles epidemic.

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 end forced labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekhistan.

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action Victory! – OHIO GOVERNOR COMMUTES DEATH SENTENCE

On 20 July, the Governor of Ohio commuted the death sentence of Raymond Tibbetts, who was scheduled for execution on 17 October. In so doing, the governor rejected the parole board’s 8-1 recommendation against clemency.

On 8 February 2018, five days before Raymond Tibbetts was due to be executed for the 1997 murder of Fred Hicks, the Ohio Governor issued an eight-month reprieve and sent the case back to the parole board after he received a letter in favour of clemency from a man who had served as a juror on the case and had since learned of the mitigation evidence not presented at the 1998 trial. The juror wrote that “[b]ased on what I know today I would not have recommended the death penalty.” In 2011, a federal judge described the trial lawyer’s “failure to engage in basic preparation” of evidence about Raymond Tibbetts’ traumatic upbringing, and wrote that evidence revealed since showed “a much more chaotic and abusive environment” in parental and foster care than the jurors heard about. These “shocking” and “utterly disturbing” details would have given jurors “compelling” reasons to vote for life. Under Ohio law, just one juror voting against the death penalty would have made resulted in life imprisonment.

The parole board, which had recommended against clemency in January 2017, reconsidered the case at a supplementary hearing on 14 June 2018. On 22 June, it again recommended against clemency, by eight votes to one. The majority said they doubted that the juror, who had told them it was an “almost absolute certainty” that he would have voted for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if he had known what he knows now, would have made a different decision at the trial if the jury had been presented with the mitigation evidence in question. The juror also told the Board that he was “troubled by the prosecution’s response to the defense’s presentation and feels that it was misleading”, and that the “prosecution implied going into foster care was a good thing for Tibbetts”, even though records the defence possessed at the time showed otherwise.

On 20 July, Governor John Kasich announced that he was commuting the death sentence. He explained that “Tibbets’s commutation is being granted as a result of fundamental flaws in sentencing phase of his trial. Specifically, the defense’s failure to present sufficient mitigating evidence, coupled with an inaccurate description of Tibbetts’s childhood by the prosecution, essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.”

There have been 1,479 executions in the USA since they resumed in 1977 under new capital laws approved by the Supreme Court in 1976. Ohio accounts for 56 of these executions. There have been 14 executions in the USA this year. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty, unconditionally. Today 142 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

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

BELARUS

Urgent Action: IRANIAN IN BELARUS AT RISK OF IMMINENT DEPORTATION

Iranian citizen Mehrdad Jamshidian, who suffers from acute ill-health, was detained on 14 June in Belarus. He is at imminent risk of deportation to Iran, where he may be subjected to torture and the death penalty for ‘apostasy’ and murder accusations.

TAKE ACTION

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action Update: Russia Must Release Ukrainian Film Director

Sentsov-photo-3

 

Ukrainian film director, Oleg Sentsov started a hunger strike on 14 May, calling for the release of ‘all Ukrainian political prisoners’ who are currently being held by the Russian Federation. Oleg Sentsov is serving a 20-year prison sentence following an unfair trial on politically-motivated charges. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate release.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: HANDS AND FEET OF LAWYER CUFFED TO IRON CHAIR

Jiang-Tianyong-resized

Jailed human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong continues to endure deplorable prison conditions, resulting in a further deterioration of his physical and mental health. Denied access to the verdict against him, Jiang’s family and lawyers cannot verify his release date. He remains imminent risk of torture and other ill-treatments.

TAKE ACTION

MYANMAR

Urgent Action: FORMER CHILD SOLDIER JAILED AFTER MEDIA INTERVIEW

Image result for aung ko htwe

Former child solider Aung Ko Htwe is serving two years and six months in prison in connection with a media interview he gave about his experiences in the Myanmar military. He faces a further three years in prison after he protested his conviction. He should be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

TURKEY

Stop the attack on rights at Cargill Turkey – Reinstate #TheCargill14 now!

cargillturkey2

Fourteen union activists have been continually protesting after being unfairly dismissed from their jobs on April 17, 2018 while organizing a union at Cargill-Turkey’s corn-milling facility in Bursa-Orhangazi.  Please join the protest.

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update July 5-11

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012), the 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 ‘Pygmies’

Displacement and discrimination devastating forest dwellers

Across the forests of central Africa, forest peoples have lived by hunting and gathering for millennia. But in the past few decades their homelands have been devastated by logging, war and encroachment from farmers.

With expansion of protected areas in response to these problems, their livelihoods have become increasingly impossible and their strong ties to their forests are under strain

pygmes-42_460_landscape

Act now to help the ‘Pygmies’

Write to the director of WWF and ask for the organization to stop funding the abuses committed by anti-poaching squads against Baka and Bayaka “Pygmies.”

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 for freedom for girls.

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

NIGERIA

URGENT ACTION VICTORY

DISPLACED WOMEN, CHILDREN RECEIVE FOOD SUPPLY

Approximately 230 internally displaced women (known as the Knifar movement) and their children who had previously been denied access to food are now able to access food supplies . A group of approximately 230 internally displaced women (known as the Knifar movement) and their children were at risk of starvation after state authorities stopped supplying food to the women on 18 April in an internally displaced ( IDP ) camp they have been living in since 2017. However, food supply to the women by humanitarian agencies has resumed and the women and their children now have access to food. The decision by Borno State authorities to stop food supply to the women is believed to have been a strategy to silence the women for their activism and to return them and their children to Bama . They previously lived in Bama, but had to flee for security reasons .

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

USA  DEATH SENTENCE ABOUT TO BE CARRIED OUT

AIUK has put out a UA calling for action re the  execution of Christopher Young scheduled for July 17 in Texas.

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Here is the link to the full PDF.

Please act and give this case priority.

EGYPT

URGENT ACTION ARBITRARILY DETAINED PRISONER ON HUNGER STRIKE

Image result for Ola al Qaradawi

Ola al Qaradawi has started a hunger strike in custody on 27 June, demanding the end of her arbitrary detention and abusive prison conditions . Ola al Qaradawi has been in solitary confinement since her arrest on 3 July 2017. Hossam Khalaf, her husband, faces the same arbitrary detention. The prosecution is denying their lawyer s access to the case file . Prosecutors also failed to present any evidence to justify their detention on the charges brought against them

TAKE ACTION

COLOMBIA

SEVEN PEOPLE KILLED IN CAUCA

Seven bodies, all male, were found piled on a road of the municipality of Argelia, in the southwest region of Cauca, Colombia. The bodies are being identified by authorities as they were presumably not from the municipality. In the past few weeks, paramilitary groups have been circulating pamphlets threatening to kill certain groups of people.

TAKE ACTION

OMAN

Urgent Action

FIVE PEOPLE HELD INCOMMUNICADO


Since 6 April, Omani authorities have launched a series of arbitrary detentions of individuals from Musandam province. The security forces are currently holding five persons incommunicado and without charges. They are believed to be in the custody of the Internal Security Service in the capital Muscat.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Urgent Action: PROTESTERS BEING HELD IN ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

Five protesters have been held under administrative detention since 10 June after participating in protests demanding the closure of a copper plant in southern India. Under the repressive National Security Act (NSA), people can be detained for up to 12 months on loosely defined grounds of maintenance of public order. The NSA has been used to target protesters and human rights defenders in India.

TAKE ACTION

NIGERIA AND ELSEWHERE

Shell – Stop cheating contract workers!

 

 

 

 

 

This week Shell is holding its annual green-washing event, #makethefuture Live, in London to try and persuade the public it cares about our future.

And yet, thanks to Shell’s unfair employment policies, near 200,000 contract workers at Shell have #gotnofuture – working in temporary, insecure jobs.

Contract workers outnumber permanent workers more than two to one at Shell, and as the company freely admits, do the most dangerous jobs. In Nigeria unions say subcontractors working for Shell “pay whatever they like and sack at will.”

USA

Two tobacco farm workers fired for speaking out:

Image result for Blalock tobacco farm

Two farm workers were harassed, abused and later fired unjustly after speaking out about violations on Randy Blalock’s tobacco farm in North Carolina.

TAKE ACTION

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update June 28-July 4

Our featured image shows our beloved 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 turn our attention to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their stated goal is to put rigorous independent science to work to solve the most pressing problems of our planet.

Map showing highest level of heat stress for the 29 World Heritage reefs during the third global coral bleaching event, Image: NOAA Coral Reef Watch/UNESCO

 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 lend your voice to the call to stop the use of forced labor in detention centers in the United States.

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action Update – GOVERNOR – ACT FOR JUSTICE, STOP EXECUTION

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.
The Ohio parole board has recommended against clemency for Raymond Tibbetts despite a juror telling them that he would have voted for life if the jury had heard mitigation evidence revealed since the trial. The Governor can still grant clemency.

TAKE ACTION

EGYPT

Urgent Action Update: AMAL FATHY REMAINS IN JAIL FOR CHARGES IN ONE CASE

Amal-Fathy-Amnesty-Edit

 

On 21 June, Egyptian authorities upheld the decision to release woman human rights defender Amal Fathy on bail in one of the two cases against her. However, she remains detained in the second case for 15 more days. The prosecutor has two weeks to decide whether to renew Amal’s detention on the second case or release her.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Urgent Action Update: ACTIVIST MADE TO SIGN FALSE WRITTEN STATEMENT

Image result for Pavitri Manjhi

Human rights defender Pavitri Manjhi says that on 13 June 2018, a police officer visited her home in Benghari village, Chhattisgarh state and compelled her to sign a false written statement. Despite her filing official complaints about the ongoing threats, intimidation and harassment Pavitri Manjhi faces, police have not yet registered her case for investigation.

TAKE ACTION

IRAN

Urgent Action Update: Human Rights Defender Needs Urgent Cancer Test

Arash-Sadeghi

 

Iranian human rights defender Arash Sadeghi has been diagnosed with a bone tumour that may be cancerous. The authorities are disregarding medical advice which recommends his immediate transfer to a facility specializing in cancer treatment.

TAKE ACTION

NORWAY

Sekkingstad and Sund, stop union busting!


After a 35 days strike last autumn, Norse Production finally signed a collective bargaining agreement for the fish processing sector. Norse Production was a subcontractor of Sekkingstad AS, a large company that exports salmon to more than 100 retailers and processing companies all over the world. The company had a turnover of more than 2 billion Norwegian kroner (0,21 billion Euros) in 2017.

Then the owners bankrupted Norse Production. A few days later, Sekkingstad AS established a new subcontractor, Sund Laksepakkeri, in the same place and with almost exactly the same management. None of the organized workers from Norse Production were hired in the new company and the collective agreement is gone. The bankruptcy of Norse Production and the establishment of a new company was a planned action from Sekkingstad AS to get rid of the organized workers and the collective agreement. This is union busting, and we cannot accept this. Send your protests to the owners and managers of Sekkingstad and Sund Laksepakkeri. Please raise your voice in protest.

INDIA

That’s terrible, that’s Tetley! – tea workers denied their human right to safe drinking water.

For the past two years workers, mainly women, on plantations in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal which supply tea giant Tetley have been organizing to demand decent water and sanitation – a fundamental human right. Please join the protest.

 

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:

 

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 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 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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)

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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 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:

 

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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 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.

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CHINA

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

huang-qi

 

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.

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CHINA

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

gao-zhisheng

 

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.

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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.

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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.

dosh_srulik

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.

abir

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

natalie

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