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Poor People’s Campaign Rallies on Capitol Hill

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/06/2022 - 9:22pm in

Demographically, there were more oldsters than youngsters.  Children were few and far between.  They were about evenly split between Black and white, with a heavy sprinkling of Hispanics.  ...

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March for Our Lives Rallies on DC Mall

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 12:35pm in

Photo credit: Jo Freeman Twenty thousand people rallied on the DC Mall on June 12 to denounce gun violence. Organized...

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Bans Off Our Bodies All Over the Country

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/05/2022 - 3:29am in

Photo credit: Jo Freeman Roughly 20,000 people rallied and marched in Washington, D.C. for abortion rights.  It was one of...

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Cartoon: Susan Collins's concerns

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 14/05/2022 - 7:50am in

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How the Russian Public Sees Events in Ukraine Today

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2022 - 10:00pm in

People who give interviews and speak about a catastrophe in Russia project something into the future, and do not describe what is happening right now. The situation is very different in different cities and even different institutions. In Saint Petersburg and Moscow, you have more freedom than, for example, in Kazan....

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The Riot on New Zealand’s Front Lawn

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 11:00pm in

Ardern’s words might have comforted those New Zealanders taken aback by the protest, but it fails to seriously engage with the complexity of the occupation, which intermingled transnational far-right tactics with homegrown white supremacy, wellness misinformation, and indigenous disenfranchisement. The protest, and Ardern’s response, has wide implications for parsing both local and transnational politics....

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The Russian Resistance to Putin Has Just Begun

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/03/2022 - 7:42am in

Since President Putin launched the war on Ukraine on February 24, thousands of people in more than 65 Russian cities have taken to the streets for anti-war protests. ...

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Meet ‘Lock the Gate’ Alliance: Australia's grassroots environmental campaigners

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/02/2022 - 4:43pm in

No campaign is too small or adversary too powerful

Originally published on Global Voices

Lock the Gate - New South Wales 2020

New South Wales 2020 – Photo courtesy Lock the Gate Flickr account (CC BY 2.0)

It is rare to encounter a nationwide environmental group as active and successful as Australia’s Lock the Gate Alliance (LTG).  The grassroots organisation brings together “farmers, traditional custodians, conservationists and urban residents”, working to defend the environment.

The movement campaigns against “risky coal mining and coal seam gas and fracking” and has taken on some of Australia's biggest polluters and environmental aggressors.

The name, “Lock the Gate”, comes from its launch in 2010:

…when farmers from south-east Queensland gathered in Brisbane around a farm gate, vowing to take a stand to protect their farms and communities from inappropriate mining.

LTG is one of the largest grassroots groups in Australia, with over 120,000 supporters and 450 local branches. Its annual budget is AUD 2 million (USD 1.4 million) and it has approximately 20 staff and contractors.

No campaign seems too small, or adversary too large and powerful. The group has tackled issues of global significance such as a campaign to stop Adani’s huge coal mine in central Queensland and one to prevent fracking in Australia's Northern Territories.

At the same time LTG energetically supports local efforts to stop mining such as the Baralaba South coal project:

Their allies include the Knitting Nannas Against Gas who use their own unique tactics:

we get together at politicians’ offices, work sites, rallys and anywhere else we please to show a mild mannered yet stubborn front, where we get out our camp chairs, table (with lace tablecloth if possible), our knitting (of course!) and have a little tea party.

This was a recent example:

Global Voices interviewed LTG spokesperson Georgina Woods about their work and learned about one of Australia's most successful local environmental efforts.

Global Voices: Lock the Gate has been campaigning since 2010. What was the initial catalyst for its formation?

Georgina Woods: Lock the Gate was formed in two places at once, southern Queensland to tackle coal seam gas, and the Hunter Valley to tackle coal mining. In both places, these resources industries were undergoing significant expansion and putting agricultural livelihoods and communities at risk. Farmers, landholders, and environmentalists teamed up to make common cause to protect land and water from degradation by those industries.

GV: What factors have contributed to the spread of the organisation?

GW: Lock the Gate is unique because it draws people together from very different walks of life, united by their common love of the land and the bush, their reliance on water and their commitment to community. As a grassroots network, Lock the Gate remains committed to supporting local communities and undertakes its work with creativity and heart.

GV: What are the main priorities for action? 

GW: The gas industry is looming as a huge threat over three large, beautiful and remote parts of the country — the Channel Country in Queensland's Lake Eyre Basin, the Beetaloo Basin and Roper Gulf in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in the far north of Western Australia. Opening these basins to sprawling industrial gasfields would severely deplete and compromise water resources, harm local communities and unleash huge volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. In New South Wales, the north west of the state still faces the threat of coal seam gas and large and expanding coal mining, as does central and southern Queensland.

GV: What are some of your proudest moments and successful campaigns, and your most frustrating setbacks?

GW: Lock the Gate's successes really belong to the local communities that we support. Rural communities across large swathes of New South Wales saw off the threat of unconventional gas from the Northern Rivers, Illawarra, Hunter Valley and Gloucester and the area available for coal seam gas in the north west of the state has been severely restricted. Together we have stopped several damaging coal mining developments from going ahead in Queensland and New South Wales and achieved significant new laws dealing with the social impacts of mining and mine rehabilitation.

Our most frustrating setbacks follow a pattern around the country: politicians prioritising the interests of big mining companies over the needs and desires of local communities. This has led to terrible harm being done to local communities, bushland and waterways in places like Maules Creek, Wollar and Bulga.

GV: What criteria do you use in deciding if LTG will support a particular issue or campaign?

GW: Lock the Gate works with local communities, fighting for the things that matter to them, so our work is always guided by the people that have the most to lose from mining developments.

GV: What tactics do you employ given your peaceful principles?

GW: We support local and regional communities to form groups and alliances to front up to the power and vested interests of the mining industry. We also use research, regulatory processes, films and photography, music and other creative avenues to amplify these local campaigns. We support local groups to survey their own community, road by road and block by block, to give the community a direct voice, to record every view and then to make a formal declaration about their stance on projects threatening their region.

GV: A final message of your readers?

GW: It's always worth fighting for what you love.

A couple of current campaigns highlight LTG’s approach. As mentioned in the interview, they are involved nationally in the fight to protect the Channel Country, Northern Territory and the Kimberley from gas development.

At a more local level, they are supporting the Hunter Jobs Alliance, which is bringing environmentalists and unions together to advocate for a positive future for the country's largest thermal coal-producing region.

The Hunter Valley of New South Wales is one of Australia’s major coal exporting regions, employing 14,000 people. It is the centre of intense political debate about the future of the industry.

No doubt Lock the Gate will continue to be at the centre of such debates.

Police violently break up Afghan refugee protest in Indonesia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/01/2022 - 7:45pm in

The refugees would like either citizenship or resettlement

Originally published on Global Voices


Afgan refugees in Indoneisa have been meeting to protest perceived inaction from the UNHCR. Refugees are calling for either Indonesian citizenship, or resettlement elsewhere. Image via YouTube.

Content notice: This article contains mention of depression, suicide, and police violence.

A peaceful protest of Afghan refugees was violently broken up by police on January 17 in Pekanbaru, Indonesia, a city on the island of Sumatra. The refugees were attempting to draw international attention to their years of displacement, mistreatment, and neglect by the Indonesian government and the international community. Police dispersed the protest by beating attendees and striking them with batons. Several attendees were reportedly injured. 

The protest emerged outside of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office because an Afghan refugee community member committed suicide on January 16. They were the 15th person to die from suicide in the community. Veronica Koman, an Amnesty International representative tweeted a video of the clash [content notice: some viewers may find the following video disturbing]: 

Some Afghan refugees have been living in limbo in Indonesia for over a decade, waiting to either receive citizenship from the Indonesian government or get approval and documents to move to another country. 

Mohammad Juma Mohseni was forced to leave Afghanistan in 2011 and has been living in Indonesia for nearly a decade. He told Gandhara news, a branch of Radio Free Europe, “[Fifteen] people have committed suicide and 10 have been prevented from committing suicide.” He added, “neither Indonesia nor the UNHCR has had a positive message for us.”

The Indonesian government is not party to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the 1967 protocol intended to eliminate restrictions on who can be considered a refugee. It does not have any official asylum laws and delegates all oversight to the UNHCR office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There are over 13,700 Afghani refugees in Indonesia who have been there for over 10 years. 

According to the SUAKA, an Indonesian civil society organization for refugee rights, asylum seekers in Indonesia are not permitted to work, receive social benefits from the Government of Indonesia, ​​own a car or motorbike, travel outside city limits, or go to university.

The IOM covers basic living costs while they await repatriation or resettlement. 

International inattention and tragedy


Some Afghan refugees in Indonesia have been camping outside of the UNHCR building for months. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

Monday’s incident is the latest in a number of heartbreaking incidents in recent months as Afghan refugees desperately try to call attention to their plight in Indonesia. Some refugees have been continuously camping out outside UNHCR offices waiting for news about their resettlement and attempting to raise awareness about their situations.

A group of Afghan refugees staged a 24-hour protest outside the IOM office in Medanon on November 30, 2021. One attendee, Ahmad Shah, 22, set himself on fire in front of the building. He had been in Indonesia awaiting permanent resettlement, separated from his family and loved ones, and unable to leave the country since 2016. 

He suffered third-degree burns and was reportedly taken to a nearby private hospital until he was moved to a public one on the same day. 

UNHCR Indonesia spokesperson Dwi Prafitria Juma told The Jakarta Post the agency was “deeply concerned about” and investigating the incident.

At least two dozen Afghan refugees had previously set themselves on fire. Six survived. 

“This is the seventh person we saved who was experiencing undue stress and fighting depression from living in limbo for around seven years,” said Juma in a press conference in front of the UNHCR office.

In recent months numerous refugees in Indonesia have sewn their mouths shut as a form of civil disobedience and protest.

In an interview with the Voice of America news agency the founder of Solidarity Indoenisa for Refugees (SIR), Ali Yusef, explained that Indonesia's refugees feel forced to take such extreme measures because they feel silenced and unheard. He worries for their mental health and urged UNHCR representatives to take immediate action.

The facts on the ground are that the UNHCR is less responsive to the fate of refugees in Indonesia. The proof is that they are not able to communicate with UNHCR when they want. … Don't let their delay mean the refugees who are sewing their mouths can injure themselves or even take their own lives. In the name of humanity UNHCR, please meet them. Explain that UNHCR is looking for a solution for them.

He added, “The world will judge Indonesia to be indifferent to international citizens.”

Both the UNHCR and IOM are responsible for managing refugees in Indonesia until they can be moved to another more permanent location. Both have been accused of neglecting and mishandling refugee affairs in the past. 

Before the Taliban came to power in August 2021, Indonesia housed the fourth-largest number of Afghan refugees in the world — behind Iran, Pakistan, and India. Most of these refugees intended to stop in Indonesia only temporarily until they could reach Australia. However, in 2013, Australia closed its borders to refugees and asylum seekers. Many were left stateless and stranded in Indonesia without recourse.

The situation has worsened since Kabul fell in August 2021. Experts say the situation in Afghanistan is likely exasperating feelings of helplessness that many Afghan refugees already deal with. It has also crushed their slim hopes of potentially returning to their home country and made it even more unlikely they will get rehoused, due to added influx of new refugees who have fled the Taliban.

Additionally, many countries have lowered the number of refugees they accept in recent years, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of resettled refugees has reached a 20-year low, according to the UNHCR. The organization found that 160 countries had closed their borders at some point during the pandemic in 2020, with 99 states making no exceptions for people seeking protection.

As a result, many refugees are finding it impossible to relocate to a third country or attain stability.

For years, refugee advocacy organizations have been calling for improved conditions in Indonesia, though those calls have not received much traction. In the meantime, citizens are doing what they can and using the hashtag #HelpRefugees_Indonesia on Twitter and social media, as a rallying call to support refugees. 

In a change.org petition, discussing the situation Afghan refugees face in Indonesia, Musa Zafar wrote:

Their most basic fundamental rights, which are emphasized in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are systematically infringed on a daily basis. Their freedom of movement, education, employment, and political and social rights have been ignored. These people have been forgotten and the world has turned a blind eye to their crisis.

On Coming to Terms

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/01/2022 - 12:00am in

BlackLivesMatter” world, it won’t be one where the current constellation of movement organizations simply disappear or become ineffective in their attempts to bring Black people closer to liberation....

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