Nonviolence Charter: Progress Report 10 (Apr 2017)
Dear fellow signatories of the Nonviolence Charter,
How are you all? And welcome to our most recent signatories and organizations!
This is the latest six-monthly report on progress in relation to ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ together with a sample of news about Charter signatories and organizations.
Our collective effort to build a worldwide consensus against the use of violence in all contexts continues to make progress, even against rather overwhelming odds!
Since our last report on 18 October 2016 – which Antonio C. S. Rosa kindly published in the TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest – we have gained our first individual signatories in another five countries – Azerbaijan (Nigar Rasulzade), Paraguay (Fernando Juan Cabrera Tarragó), Vietnam (Greg Kleven), Iran (Professor Manijeh Navidnia) and Venezuela (Antonio Gutiérrez Rodero) – a total of 101 countries now. We also have 109 organizations/networks from 35 countries. If you wish, you can see the list of organizational endorsements on the Charter website.
If you wish to see individual signatories, click on the ‘View signatures’ item in the sidebar. You can use the search facility if you want to look for a specific name.
The latest progress report article ‘International Collaboration to End Violence’ was recently distributed to many progressive news websites: it was published by a number of outlets in 14 countries, thanks to very supportive editors (several of whom are Charter signatories: special thanks to Antonio Rosa at TRANSCEND, Gifty Ayim-Korankye at ‘Ghana web Online’, Korsi Senyo at ‘Awake Africa’ and Pía Figueroa at ‘Pressenza’). If you like, you can read the article in English and Spanish, the latter translated by signatory Antonio G. Rodero in Venezuela, on ‘TRANSCEND’.
If you feel inclined to do so, you are welcome to help raise awareness of the Nonviolence Charter using whatever means are easiest for you: email, articles, Facebook, Twitter…. Thanks to Anahata, the Nonviolence Charter is on Facebook and it has links to some useful articles.
You may remember that in previous Charter progress reports we have reiterated our promise to report on those of you about whom we know less by asking you to send us some information about yourself and the reminder that you don’t have to be world famous to be valued here. Well, the good news is that, once again, a number of people responded and, in addition, we did some more research ourselves. However, as we continue to find, extraordinary people seem to invariably consider themselves ‘ordinary’. So, irrespective of how you consider yourself, we would love to hear about you for the next report!
In addition to those signatories mentioned in the article ‘International Collaboration to End Violence’ cited above, here is another (inadequate) sample of reports of the activities of ‘ordinary’ people and organizations who are your fellow Charter signatories.
So first: A couple of recent websites for those of you who are interested in nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle (and now with photos of several Charter signatories):
If any of you have high quality photos of nonviolent actions that you are willing to have published on these sites, please send them to Robert <email@example.com> All photos will be acknowledged where published. Many thanks to Kathy Kelly, Mike Ferner, and Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa for sending excellent photos in response to our request last time.
And this article might stimulate your interest in considering nonviolent action. ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.
Sadly, Professor Glenn D. Paige, inspirational founder of the Center for Global Nonkilling in Honolulu passed away, after a struggle with declining health, on 22 January 2017. Communications with Glenn and Glenda in the final days revealed a man at peace with himself after a lifetime of effort to end killing. Rather than publishing a tribute written by someone else, you are welcome to read the text of Glenn’s acceptance speech when receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Jagran Lakecity University in Bhopal, India in December. Your inspirational example will not be forgotten Glenn.
Our first signatory in Iran is Professor Manijeh Navidnia, professor of sociology at the Islamic Azad University in Teheran. The focus of much of Manijeh’s research is security studies. You can read a little about her and some of her research articles here. Welcome Manijeh!
Antonio Gutiérrez Rodero is our first signatory in Venezuela. Born in Madrid, Spain, he emigrated to Venezuela in 1957, at the age of 9. ‘Since then, after understanding that he was not accountable for the atrocities committed, in colonial times, by those who are NOT his ancestors, he became one Venezuelan more.’ He studied in Venezuela, and after working for 7 years from the age of 15 in the film industry, and in civil aviation for another 16 years, he became an American English and modern Spanish teacher for 6 more years. Today he works as a translator and producer of radio content, as well as an instructor in techniques for radio program production. Antonio is the son of a Spanish Republican mother and proudly working class. His ideology is left wing and he spent time as a union leader. He is an activist in favor of eradicating violence and human exploitation off the face of the earth. ‘In Venezuela we are now living a very hard time. I think we are really paying the price for having rebelled against the American-Zionist Empire interests and we are “guilty” of possessing and wanting to preserve for our people the largest oil reserve on earth, in addition to other mineral resources, water, climate, landscapes and biodiversity. Violence harasses us on all fronts, particularly the media. The opposition, in defense of the interests of US corporations, violently fights against the pro-socialist government of Nicolas Maduro.’ Antonio is currently attending a meeting of Congreso de los Pueblos and Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos. In addition, he is very kindly translating the Nonviolence Charter into Spanish to enhance our capacity to attract Spanish-speaking signatories. Muchas gracias Antonio. It is much appreciated.
Sovannarun Tay has almost completed the Khmer translation of the Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy website as part of his effort to raise awareness of the potential of nonviolent strategy to liberate Cambodia from its dictatorship. If you fancy your Khmer, you can see his translation here.
Dr Teck Young Wee, better known to us as Hakim, together with his colleagues in the Afghan Peace Volunteers, continues to work for an end to the US war on Afghanistan, now in its 16th year. One of their many evocative presentations can be seen on this short video: ‘I had forgotten the Afghan mountain spirit’.
But most recently, Hakim and fellow Charter signatory Kathy Kelly feature in this video interview conducted by Amy Goodman in response to the US military dropping ‘The Mother of All Bombs’ (the most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever released, unleashing an explosion equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, leaving a blast radius one mile wide) on Afghanistan on 13 April 2017.
Drawing attention to the war and the catastrophic nature of the famine it is causing in Yemen, which still lacks profile in the corporate media, Kathy has also written recently about ‘Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen’ on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website. You can read a little about the recent ‘Fast For Yemen’ on their website too.
Since 1991 Australian Jason MacLeod has worked in solidarity with West Papuans struggling to liberate their country from Indonesian occupation. He has a particular interest in helping this struggle get onto a more strategic basis and, as one contribution to this effort, wrote the book ‘Merdeka and the Morning Star: civil resistance in West Papua’ which carefully describes the evolution of the West Papuan resistance to three successive occupying countries over more than a century. He works in close collaboration with the leadership of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). An evocative excerpt from Jason’s book ‘West Papuans Testify’ was widely published and can be read here.
There is a wonderful interview of Dr John Scales Avery of Denmark, ‘One of the Greatest Living Intellectuals on Earth’, by Binu Mathew here. ‘The battle to save the earth from human greed and folly has to be fought in the alternative media…. We need a new economic system, a new society, a new social contract, a new way of life. Here are the great tasks that history has given to our generation: We must achieve a steady-state economic system. We must restore democracy. We must decrease economic inequality. We must break the power of corporate greed. We must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We must stabilize and ultimately reduce the global population. We must eliminate the institution of war. And finally, we must develop a more mature ethical system to match our new technology.’ In appreciation of your phenomenal efforts John: truly inspirational!
Always looking for a novel way to raise awareness of humanity’s plight, Tess Burrows in the UK recently did something unusual in the French Alps. Posing the questions ‘Can we reverse the destruction of our glaciers and our environment? Can we go against the flow?’ as she did so, you can read a very brief account of her latest effort ‘Glacial Melt’ on her website.
Dr Laxman Shakya of World Without Anger in Nepal has advised that the report from their 2016 conference ‘Peace through Emotional Literacy’ can be read/downloaded here and that the 7th International Conference titled ‘World Peace through Emotional Literacy in Education and Management Psychology’ will be held in November 2017. You are heartily welcome to participate in this conference and if you wish to do so you are welcome to contact Laxman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Zakia Haddouch is from a northern Mediterranean region in Morocco called Rif. Her ancestors and parents ‘were great freedom fighters, whether against colonialism or the regime. We continue their fight. Of course, we paid the price… napalm bombing, exile, detention, illegal death penalties, harassment…’ Zakia worked at the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication (HACA) – the TV and radio regulator in Morocco – where she was in charge of translation (Arabic, French, English, Spanish and Amazigh which is her mother tongue). However, she had been fired ‘because I said we are all sons and daughters of this country!’ Remarkably, her case in the Administrative Court resulted in a decision in her favour: ‘The Court decided I’m to reintegrate my job and keep my position.’ In a widely celebrated result, ‘The media here are jubilating because it’s a legal battle between a simple citizen (me) and the State. Besides there’s the son of a King’s councillor involved. Now I’m on the front of media, human rights NGOs, trade unions and the Parliament.’ The most disappointing aspect about all this was ‘that those people (the president and D.G. of the High Authority) were activists before getting to power. A very bad example for our generation and the next.’ For the Arabic speakers among you, updates on Zakia’s case can be read here. Zakia has also reported widespread demonstrations, in which she participated, after a fisherman was killed. Good on you Zakia!
After some cajoling, Wade Stone in Canada advised that ‘I’m a writer, author, and above all else, a “truth” warrior who has spent the better part of his 60 years reading, studying and contemplating the growing tip of information in just about every field imaginable: psychology, transpersonal psychology, theoretical physics, particle physics, both eastern and western philosophies, anthropology, cosmology, sociology, chaos and complexity theories, systems theories, consciousness theories, world religions past to present, history, biology, bio-energetics, and of course geopolitics.’ Notably, however, he adds that he is ‘deeply committed to the “care and compassion for all sentient beings” :)’ Having read a little more about Wade than is mentioned here, we can vouch for the latter!
We asked Greg Kleven, our first signatory in Vietnam, for some information about himself. Continuing the tradition of great people signing the Nonviolence Charter, here is what Greg wrote:
‘My name is Greg Kleven and I am a 68 year-old American living and teaching English in Viet Nam. I was 18 years old when I was here as a soldier in 1967 and thought that what I was doing was right. But after a few months in country I realized that I had made a huge mistake. The war was wrong and I should never have participated. After I went home I had a hard time adjusting back into society. I couldn’t get the war out of my mind. In 1988 I came back to Viet Nam as a tourist and realized I had a chance to make up for what I had done. For the next two years I helped organize return trips for veterans who wanted to go back and see Viet Nam as a country, not a war. In 1990 I started teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City and have been doing it ever since. I admire your work in trying to establish a nonviolence charter that can some day put an end to all wars and violence in the world. I have forwarded your website to some friends and hope that they will sign. Keep up the good work. Hoa binh (peace), Greg’. In genuine appreciation of your efforts Greg.
Ruth Phillips is the central figure in the initiative to create ‘an ecological, co-housing village here on a fully restored, 17th century chateau estate in rural France. The property lies in the heart of 30 acres of parklands and forests in the midst of quiet, deep-green nature, surrounded by hills and mountains, forests and lakes. It is set in the eastern Dordogne, one of most unspoilt regions of France. This is a unique development and is ready to launch. Outline planning permission is in place to create a permaculture village around the chateau for residential and/or holiday use, with twenty-three houses, blended into the natural and historic landscape. Plans include the chateau “hub” offering education, leisure and cultural activities for both visitors and residents; a small restaurant; a multi-functional workshop space; the swimming pool (existing); a sauna and a communal space, as well as large, individual garden plots and access to acres of forest and fields on the property. The whole site aims to be a showcase for permaculture and sustainable living.’ Too good to be true? Check out the website and email Ruth if you want to go there to stay for a while and help make their vision a more complete reality.
And while in France, Rene Wadlow added his thoughtful voice to those deeply concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. You can read his fine article ‘Reaffirming humanitarian law. Syria: Chemical Weapon Use, Destruction of Children, The Ethical Vacuum’ here.
Working in extraordinarily difficult circumstances in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Christophe Nyambatsi Mutaka is the key figure at the Groupe Martin Luther King. The group, based in Goma in the east of the country in Central Africa, promotes active nonviolence, human rights and peace. They particularly work on reducing sexual and other violence against women.
Also based in Goma, the Association de Jeunes Visionnaires pour le Développement du Congo headed by Leon Simweragi is a youth peace group that works to rehabilitate child soldiers as well as offer meaningful opportunities for the sustainable involvement of young people in matters that affect their lives and those of their community.
Given the phenomenal suffering in the DRC, which has experienced the loss of six million lives and the displacement of eight million people due to the long war driven by Western corporations keen to exploit the country’s mineral wealth, Christophe, Leon and their colleagues are testimony to the fact that committed people strive in the most adverse of circumstances.
Tess Ramiro, Director of Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan – Center for Active Non-Violence (AKKAPKA-CANV) in the Philippines, reports that ‘we took part in the “Walk for Life” called by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, held last February 18, 2017, by walking around the entire Luneta Park, to demand the end to extrajudicial killings (currently, 7,000 have already been killed due to the government’s war against illegal drugs) and the revival of the death penalty. During that event, H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, in his talk, emphasized the importance of responding to violence with Active Non-Violence.
‘Since then and now, we have been providing support for our base groups who have been undergoing economic difficulties as well as reeling over the effects of past typhoons.
‘(And now more earthquakes! God help us!)
‘Come April 22, we will be taking part in the #Mercy2Earth which is a global initiative organized by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), of which Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, is a co-founder, and is the one extending the invitation to everyone to join in the said activity.
‘”The purpose of the event is to educate the public on the recently ratified Paris Agreement and the commitment of the Philippine government — its relationship of the daily living of the Filipino citizens…” and to act locally “to build a healthier climate for future generations by witnessing to what Pope Francis calls ‘the Gospel of Creation’.”
‘Truly there is a need to care for our one and only home, Planet Earth.
‘We need to be constantly reminded to be non-violent to ourselves, our families, communities, our nation, our environment and our planet.’ Beautifully expressed Tess.
David Swanson continues to work for a world beyond war. In yet another eloquent and deeply-informed presentation, he offered these remarks to a recent gathering in Cambridge, USA: ‘Never-Ending War in the Time of Trump and How to Stop It’.
John McKenna is an eminent advocate of the rights of those with disabilities in Australia. He has recently written another thoughtful article. This one is designed to challenge disability service providers to be more creative when communicating with individuals who are non-verbal or communicate in different ways. You can read his superb article here: ‘Are We Listening to Words or Behaviours?’
Kristin Christman, author of ‘The Taxonomy of Peace: A Comprehensive Classification of the Roots and Escalators of Violence and 650 Solutions for Peace’ continues to bring enormous insight to bear on underlying drivers of international relations. Her latest article is another classic example. You can read ‘U.S., Russia must repel greed, fear’ here.
Mahad Wasuge is a key figure at the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Somalia. The Institute has recently published a shocking report on ‘Somalia’s Drought Induced Crises: Immediate Action and Change of Strategy Needed’ in response to the ongoing drought in Somalia, which threatens millions of people. ‘The ongoing drought in Somalia – referred to in the Somali language as Sima, which means the leveler, ubiquitous or pervasive – has enveloped the entire country. If rain does not arrive by mid April, and if a massive humanitarian campaign is not mounted swiftly, the drought could morph into an insidious famine that could devastate the country. Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable men, women and children could starve to death. Though awareness of the ongoing suffering and the potential famine has been high, the response of the international community and the mitigation strategy by Somalia has been wholly inadequate. Across the country, the majority of the population is not receiving basic necessities despite UN agencies raising over US$300 million. Many pastoral communities have also lost 80 percent of their livestock, escalating their vulnerability to an alarming and perilous level.’ Another recent report discusses ‘Land Matters in Mogadishu: Settlement, ownership and displacement in a contested city’.
Dr Katharina Bitzker in Germany continues her research into the relationship between peace and love. In a recent visit to Israel, she spent time with the women of Isha L’Isha. We asked for a report of this visit and she responded as follows: ‘In March I presented some of my research findings at Isha L’Isha in Haifa/Israel. Isha L’Isha is the oldest feminist grassroot organization in Israel and I had interviewed one of the activists for my research project. We had kept in touch and I felt it would be great to return to Haifa and share some of the research process and findings. What made this presentation memorable and special for me that it was happening in a spirit of true conversation and learning. I often feel that the conventional academic conference settings (where I normally present) would make Paulo Freire turn in his grave – one person imparts her/his ‘wisdom’ and the audience gets 5 minutes afterwards to ask questions and that’s it…#bankingstyle. So at Isha L’Isha I briefly spoke about what my research project is about (and no boring power point either :-)) and then this group of passionate, intelligent and critical women asked me lots of questions… Of course when you are dabbling in “love & peace” answers don’t abound, rather more questions are generated. Among the many topics we touched upon I just want to highlight two: one is the great potential for love being hijacked to exclude others and create lovable in-groups and demonize out-groups. The second topic was a question that I have been grappling with for my research project and still have no definitive answer to – who is a peacebuilder? Who is a peace activist? I know it sounds straightforward and easy to answer, but I think that depending on how a person defines peace, their understanding of what counts as peacebuilding could be potentially very different from mainstream ideas of peacebuilding. In any case, this lively conversation gave me lots to think about and actually inspired me to do further “research check-ins” of this kind with some of my co-researchers I’ve interviewed.’
Further to our report last time, Pakistani Canadian Dr Mahboob A. Khawaja, a scholar of global affairs, has recently advised that his son, Mohmmad Momin Khawaja, the first victim in Canada of Bush’s fraudulent ‘war on terrorism’ who has been a prisoner of conscience for nearly 13 years, still awaits ‘a new timeline to have Momin’s application and appeal for transfer [to less difficult prison circumstances] to be heard by the concerned authorities’. Mahboob writes: ‘In our weekly visits, he continues to complain and show observable marks of on-going torture at the prison. Previously, we wrote to the two federal ministers and commissioner of the correctional services (prison system), but as usual, they deny the existing practices of in-prison torture to him. Such denials do not change the facts on the ground. Momin’s health (physical and spiritual) is adversely affected by this experience. He is still waiting to know the next timeline for hearing of his long overdue parole submission and appeal.’ Mahboob further noted: ‘Unless, one is politically connected, official apparatus show no sign of any responsibility, at least in this case. Almost, for 13 yrs, we the family, have been subjected to illegal surveillance, denial of our basic freedom and human rights and equal opportuntiies to participate in socio-economic affairs of life. However, we continue to breathe the air and survive. This is nothing unusual as it has happened to countless human beings in history across the globe.’ You can read a brief account of Momin’s ordeal in the article by Sami Ullah Malik ‘Canadian Prisoner Seeks Justice: Wrongfully Convicted Momin Khawaja Persecuted under Terrorism’.
Rajesh Makwana is the key figure at Share the World’s Resources based in the UK. ‘STWR is an independent civil society organisation campaigning for a fairer sharing of wealth, power and resources within and between nations.’ Through research and activities, STWR makes the case ‘for integrating the principle of sharing into world affairs as a pragmatic solution to a broad range of interconnected crises that governments are currently failing to address – including hunger, poverty, climate change, environmental degradation, and conflict over the world’s natural resources.’ For an overview of STWR’s perspective on strengthening and scaling up all genuine forms of economic sharing, you can check out their website which boasts an excellent series of hardhitting reports that, for example, expose the lie in the efforts of Bill Gates to contribute towards a fairer economic world.
President of the Global Harmony Association, Professor Subhash Chandra in India, and the worldwide network of the Global Harmony Association, founded in Russia, continue their unrelenting efforts to encourage world leaders and others to appreciate the unique contribution that Global Peace Science can play in preventing nuclear war and establishing a lasting basis for world peace. If you haven’t seen it, the recently published GHA book ‘Global Peace Science’, to which many Charter signatories – including Prof Ayo Ayoola-Amale in Ghana, Prof Bishnu Pathak in Nepal, Delasnieve Daspet in Brazil, Ime Bisassoni in Argentina, Kae Morii in Japan, Dr Leo Semashko in Russia, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire in Northern Ireland and Zaure Khizatolla in Kazakhstan – contributed, can be read and downloaded here.
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese are heavily involved in raising awareness of ‘The People’s Plan For Transformation’ on their excellent news website ‘Popular Resistance’. Why? ‘We are in a critical juncture of history and it is important to understand how we got here. The movements of the 60s and 70s, which built on decades of work that came before them, scared the power elites because they were successfully changing the political culture and economic system. The elites responded with a clear plan, outlined in the Powell Memo in 1971, that was put into action and is responsible in large part for the crises and insecurity that we experience today.’ Working to help crystallise this movement of movements, now taking shape around the world, their article offers insight into key issues and offers ways forward.
In Aotearoa (New Zealand), Professor Kevin Clements probably speaks for many of us in his article ‘Dear America’ written in response to the election of Donald Trump as president.
Among other issues that capture his attention, Dr Gary G. Kohls MD continues to highlight the phenomenal damage (in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and financial cost) inflicted by the pharmaceutical industry through the mainstream medical system including psychiatry. One of his recent articles was titled ‘Duty to Warn: A Response to a Radio Interview’ and discussed ‘The high incidence of long-lasting sadness and behavioral dysfunction among girls is actually very old news and the fact that it is getting worse should come as no surprise. 99% of our celebrity-worshipping and excessively fashion-conscious American girls are trying to survive in a junk culture while simultaneously being mal-nourished, sleep-deprived, over-stressed, over-drugged, over-vaccinated, sexually-harassed, sexually-abused, and screen time- and pornography-toxified all the while trying to pretend to be happy and not emotional[ly] distressed! Impossible!’ You can read this searing exposure and critique of the phenomenal damage inflicted by pharmaceutical psychiatry here.
Among other Charter signatories who work on this vital issue, Gordon Rowland in Australia has reported a tragic personal loss to prescription pharmaceutical drugs. ‘We’ve lost our son Daniel (10 November 1976 – 6 August 2014, R.I.P.) to prescription pharmaceutical drugs. Dan leaves a widow and two children in Newcastle, the reason for our planned move. I attach my recent letter, following my initial December 2015 letter to the Prime Minister, that may interest you.’ This very thoughtfully-worded and detailed six-page letter, sent to Dr Larry Kelly, spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), included the following words: ‘Thank you for your response to my registered letter of 25 May 2016 to the Prime Minister, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP. My family and I would also like to thank you for your personal response to the loss of our son Daniel (10 November 1976 – 6 August 2014, R.I.P). We miss him every single day. As you may be aware, Mr Turnbull did not acknowledge my letter; he forwarded it instead to the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, who also didn’t acknowledge it. It came as a surprise to receive your response to my letter, because the Prime Minister is the only person who can initiate a royal commission. Many of the 653 co-signatories to my original letter of 16 December 2015 and I myself feel dismissed, if not insulted by Mr Turnbull’s failure to act on, or even acknowledge a matter of vital importance to Australia’s health budget and the health of the Australian community. In your letter you state, “The Government has no plans to establish a royal commission into the pharmaceutical industry…” We are well aware of that, which is precisely why – in light of the overwhelming prima facie evidence of pharmaceutical industry bribery and corruption, as outlined in my 16 December 2015 letter – victims of pharmaceutical industry fraud and misinformation, requested the Prime Minister to initiate one. We remain unconvinced by your assertion that “the TGA has a strong governance framework and track record of impartiality in protecting public health and safety through the regulation of therapeutic goods.” The facts suggest otherwise; I could cite numerous examples. Here’s one: The TGA Consumer Medicines Information leaflet on Zyprexa, falsely claims: “It helps to correct chemical imbalances in the brain, which may cause mental illness.” Prof. Peter Gøtzsche, co-founder of The Cochrane Collaboration, the global network of independent research scientists, exposes this falsehood in his 2013 book, “Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare”. Further incriminating evidence appears in his 2015 book, “Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial”‘ [outlined in the article ‘Prescription pills are Britain’s third biggest killer’.]
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held its 25th annual space organizing protest and conference in Huntsville, Alabama, USA on 7-9 April. According to the account of Network coordinator Bruce Gagnon, ‘it turned out to be a long hard trip’ which serious disruptions caused by adverse weather interfering with many flights not to mention Homeland Security playing its part by ensuring that Bruce’s suitcase with info and banners got lost! Still, this didn’t stop their conference nor their protest at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal. You can read all about it and see photos here.
Kathleen Macferran has done two exceptional TEDx talks, which we only recently discovered. Posing the question ‘Are we really safer when we put those who harm others behind bars and forget about them?’ she explores the idea of ‘turning our prisons into houses of healing and creating connections that lead to greater safety for our communities’ in this presentation at the Monroe Correctional Complex in the USA. In the second video ‘The art of listening’ she explores Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication: Well worth watching!
Paul Buchheit’s thought-provoking book, ‘Disposable Americans’, has just been published. All royalties will go to progressive causes. You can obtain it here.
Leonard Eiger talks brilliantly about Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and its work since 1977 to protest the Trident submarines housed at the Bangor Naval Base in Kitsap, the bigger picture of U.S. foreign policy as regards the use of nuclear weapons, ongoing international tension, and the agreement between Congress and the Obama administration to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to rebuild the entire U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons in this radio interview.
The latest (April 2017) Ground Zero newsletter, always worth reading, can be read/downloaded here.
With expert assistance from his daughter Jenny, international foreign affairs columnist Jonathan Power (who ‘has interviewed over 60 of of the world’s most famous political icons including Ignacio Lula Da Silva, Indira Gandhi, Willy Brandt, Julius Nyerere, Jimmy Carter, Olusegan Obasanjo, Dilma Rousseff, Olof Palme, Manmohan Singh and Zbigniew Brzezinski’ over the past 35 years) now has much of his work on a personal website. You can check out his articles, books, films and more, from long ago and more recently, here.
Philip Farruggio, ‘son and grandson of Brooklyn longshoremen’, continues to critique US policy, foreign and domestic. His article ‘2017 Amerika: A new Reich?’ was recently published here.
Burmese scholar and activist, Dr Maung Zarni has been indefatigable in his efforts to raise awareness of the Burmese government’s genocidal assault on the Rohingya Muslim population in Burma. He has also not shied away from drawing attention to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s complicity in this genocidal assault. While he has written many articles on the subject, this two-minute video will give you a clearer sense of Zarni, the compassionate scholar/activist: ‘Multiple Denials of Myanmar’s Atrocity Crimes against Rohingyas prevent a peaceful resolution’. For more, check out his website.
On a more personal note, on Christmas Day 2016 Zarni ‘wrote this poem as a holiday season’s gift to myself’. Titled ‘An Irreverent Activist and His Year’s End Gift’, it reads:
‘I can’t be taken down.
For my feet have always been firmly on the ground.
My career can’t be destroyed.
For I have never pursued one.
My image can’t be tarnished.
For it has never been manufactured.
I am unafraid to fall.
For I have never attempted to climb.
I can’t be ostracised.
For I seek no external acceptance.
I am not given into applauses or flattery. .
For I know I am always less than the person that is being lauded or flattered.
I don’t hold on to anything, applauses or condemnations, achievements
Nothing belongs to me.
And I am nothing beyond my present deeds.
For Nothingness reigns supreme inside.
I have no soul to corrupt;
nor is there a “core” to hold up as “incorruptible”.
I am only a stream of deeds and thoughts held together by memory.
Not even that memory.
No regrets nor jubilations.
I too will pass
like another dust on this earth.’
Your passion and compassion are wonderful to behold Zarni!
Professor Emerita Sandy Oestreich, founder-president of the US National Equal Rights Amendment Alliance, recently advised progress in relation to the Equal Rights Amendment which simply guarantees that sex discrimination against male and female becomes a violation of the US Constitution. With Nevada recently voting to ratify the ERA amendment to the Constitution, which becomes law when it is approved by 75% of the 50 states (that is, 38 states), Sandy advises that there are now just 15 states that have not yet ratified the ERA: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. When just two more of these states ratify the amendment, it will become law. You can read the details of the phenomenal efforts of Sandy and her colleagues on their website.
In India, Professor and Gandhian R.P. (Rameshwar) Misra (former Vice Chancellor, University of Allahabad; former Director and Chairman, Center for Gandhian Studies and Peace Research at the University of Delhi and First National Mahatma Gandhi Fellow, Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India), who is now 87 and despite some indifferent health in recent times, continues to work on his monumental ‘Rediscovering Gandhi’ series. The most recent volumes in this series are 8. ‘Gandhian Economics and its Contemporary Relevance’ by R P Misra and D Gopal, 9. ‘Conflict Resolution and Peace Building: The Gandhian Way’ by R P Misra and D Gopal, and 10. ‘Mahatma Gandhi: The man, His vision and Mission’ by R P Misra.
In Melbourne, Australia, Anahata Giri has set up the Love in Action series, an eight week facilitated group process that explores love as a powerful force for personal and social change. ‘We explore love as action and what steps each participant can take to help create a nonviolent world. We explore how to practise the skills of self-love, the importance of listening to self, the wisdom of embodiment, the intelligence of our emotions, how to listen to others and the world and nonviolent action as an empowered expression of love in the world. The Love in Action series will run throughout the year and is open to anyone who wants to act to build a nonviolent world.’ Contact Anahata Giri <email@example.com> if you are interested to join.
Chris Moore-Backman is author of the recently published ‘The Gandhian Iceberg: A Nonviolence Manifesto for the Age of the Great Turning’ and producer of ‘Bringing Down the New Jim Crow: A Radio Documentary Series’. Fellow Charter signatory Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence has this to say about Chris’ book: ‘An engrossing manifesto…. From the rare perspective of an author who is equal parts writer, nonviolence scholar, and frontlines practitioner, “The Gandhian Iceberg” approaches radical social transformation and its realistic requirements, with a blend of personal testimony, artistic creativity, and compelling vision. Written from the heart, the book poses a timely, powerful, and fascinating challenge.’
You can read some of Greg Garbulinski’s poetry ‘God is [our] higher self, All in One’ and political commentary on his website.
Vijay Mehta has recently reported the outcome of the Uniting for Peace conference on ‘Global Terrorism – The Peace Movement Response’ held in London. Vijay’s own speech was titled ‘Responding to Terrorism – Building a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence’, and included a terrific section on ‘Ten Ways to Stop Terrorism’. A photo gallery of the conference can be viewed here.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar, president of the International Movement for a JUST World, based in Malaysia, recently wrote the article ‘Apartheid Israel’ which was published here. ‘Using international human rights law as a basis’ Chandra explains, ‘the report provides ample evidence to show why Israel practises apartheid in various facets of governance. Land policy is one example. Land occupied by Israel between 1948 and 1967 can only be owned and used by Jews and by law excludes non-Jews some of whom have documentary claims to the land that go back a few centuries…. An even more insidious mechanism employed by the Israeli regime to exercise control and domination is the fragmentation of the Palestinian population into various categories. The authors of the report call them “domains”.’ Chandra’s compelling conclusion: ‘That the media has given so little attention to the contents of the report on apartheid Israel is an indication of the power and influence of the states and vested interests that do not want the truth about Israel to be known to the world. This is what we have to struggle against in order to ensure that truth triumphs and justice is done to the people of Palestine.’
And while we are in Palestine, so to speak, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh has recently issued the following announcement: ‘We opened the Palestine Museum of Natural History and our botanical gardens (part of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University) to the public after an official ceremony on Wednesday [12 April 2017] attended by University officials and dignitaries. Brother Peter Bray pledged the university’s continued support. Eng. Adalah Ateerah gave an important speech about the relationship with the Environmental Quality Authority and suggested the need to enlarge this to become truly a national monument. Below I included my speech at the opening where I summarized progress and laid out plans going forward. There was a big team of volunteers and staff who worked very hard to see this day. Words of thanks are too small to do justice to all who contributed to making this day possible. Many of you receiving this message who were not there have contributed (some in time and efforts, others financially). We welcome and appreciate all support. We are very grateful for that and invite you to come visit us.’ Mazin posted selected photos here, a video of the opening here and a video about their work before the opening here.
And Sami Awad, Director of the Holy Land Trust in Palestine reports an ongoing initiative: ‘As reports of violence, of religious extremism, continue to dominate our news cycles, we must remember that we can make real change by tangible contributions to the lives of others. Holy Land Trust partners with Amos Trust to help re-build Palestinians homes that have been demolished as a result of Israel’s policy of home demolitions.’
Buddy Bell writes an evocative account of what happened when ‘a group of US veterans who were deported to Mexico, in some cases after having fought in U.S. wars, congregated in Plaza Ochoa, Nogales, Sonora [and] were joined by members of Dreamer Moms International, which advocates for women deported while their children stayed in the U.S., by the Mesoamerica Migrants’ Movement, and by other solidarity activists from both sides of the border’ in his article on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website: ‘Policies of Exclusion Challenged Across the Board and Across the Border’. Great article Buddy!
Burt Berlowe has advised that the anthology ‘Turning Points: Discovering Meaning and Passion in Turbulent Times’, containing the stories of people who became activists in response to a significant turning point in their life, has now been published by Changing Times Press. The book includes the story of Burt himself, as well as that of fellow Charter signatory Marianne Perez de Fransius, who founded Peace is Sexy and is currently based in Mozambique.
Steve Varatha Rajan reports that the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), based in Malaysia, has formed a 201 seat Diplomatic Commission which, in time, will become the IAEWP General Assembly. The intention is to use the internet to vote on global issues and declarations as a world body. You can see the IAEWP website, which details the fine work of this long-standing organization, and to which some other Charter signatories contribute, here.
Roger Copple’s latest article ‘World Betterment Begins with Workplace Democracy’ can be read on his website ‘Now Save the World’.
In a thoughtful reflection on the right-wing resurgence globally, Peter van Els in the Netherlands wrote this article ‘Sorry folks, nicer and better i can not make’. ‘The rise of populism poses a profound threat to our rights and democracy. Trump and several politicians in Europe seek power by recourse to racism, xenophobia, misogyny. They all claim that the public accepts the violations against human rights when it is necessary to secure jobs, to prevent cultural change, or to prevent terrorist attacks. In fact, lack of respect for human rights provides the most likely route to tyranny.’
Dr Sohan Lal Gandhi, International President of Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA) in India, has sent advice announcing the 9th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action (9th ICPNA) on the theme ‘Science, Spirituality and Universal Peace’ to be held Adhyatma Sadhana Kendra, New Delhi from 17-21 December 2017. Participants at the conference will reflect on the question of whether science and spirituality need to be pursued simultaneously. ‘No one can deny that science has transformed the planet…. On the one hand science has given us unprecedented materialistic comforts but at the same time it has also given us weapons of mass destruction which include atom bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear weapons to distant parts of the world. Humanity has already witnessed the catastrophe of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…. Only spiritually elevated persons will not use science for wars and for the gratification of their selfish ends. So, it is time we concentrated on preparing spiritual-cum-scientific human beings.’ Dr Gandhi and his colleagues are inviting ‘spiritual leaders, eminent scientists and social leaders of eminence who have been crusading against violence, hatred and human propensities for vengeance.’ The conference proposes to issue a declaration at its end which will be a blueprint for creating a world without violence by reconciling science and spirituality. If you are interested in learning more about this conference with a view to possibly attending it, you can contact Dr Gandhi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lastly, if you haven’t checked out ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ in which you are welcome to participate in response to the accelerating environmental crises, you can do so here. Anita’s ‘The Flame Tree Song’ can be heard here. Her other ‘Songs of Nonviolence’ are on her website too.
Well, as indicated above, an inadequate summary but it gives you some idea of our shared efforts.
Finally, if you or someone you know has the means and inclination to do so, any financial support for Anita and Robert to help us do this work will be much appreciated. You can see how here.
In appreciation of all of your efforts (including all of those not mentioned above)…
And don’t forget to write to us with a report on what you do!
For a world without violence; Robert, Anita and Anahata
P.S. This Charter progress report is being emailed, in a sequence of emails, to all signatories of the Nonviolence Charter for whom we have a current email address. It will also be published on the next TRANSCEND Media Service weekly digest.
Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone & Anahata Giri are cofounders of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and can be contacted at email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 8 May 2017.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Nonviolence Charter: Progress Report 10 (Apr 2017), is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.
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