Tag Archives: Human spirit

The True Meaning of Christmas

Occupy World Writes is encouraging you to spend time with family and friends this holiday. If you are alone, please go to a place where others are gathered to observe something meaningful about this day. Our deepest wishes to you and your family for a joyous holiday and the best for the New Year.

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Criminalizing Dissent: Trump Inauguration Protest Trial Enters Fourth Week

Published 12-9-2017 by Unicorn Riot

Scene from J20 protest. Photo: It’s Going Down

 

Washington, DC – Several weeks into the first trial of the individuals who were mass arrested during President Trump’s inauguration in DC on January 20 (J20), the prosecution is almost ready to rest its case. The arrests occurred at 12th & L streets when police chased, trapped, and surrounded the ‘anti-capitalist and anti-fascist’ protest march.

The first trial group comprises those who insisted on their right to a speedy trial. Jury selection began on November 15, and the trial itself started with opening arguments on November 20. The next group of defendants exercising their right to speedy trial is set for trial later this month but may be delayed to January; many other trials for the remaining defendants are scattered throughout 2018. Continue reading

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What Democracy Looks Like When You Have to Disagree With Your Neighbors

As much as I dislike and distrust our current national administration, I also deeply value community harmony.

By . Published 6-8-2017 by YES! Magazine

Protestors gather outside the hotel where Republican Rep. John Faso is scheduled to speak in Schoharie, New York. Congressman Faso has an 89.7% track record for voting “Yes” on Trump initiatives. Photo by Reggie Harris.

I’m leafing through a stack of protest signs in the corner of the mudroom, reading the markered letters, looking to see what can be recycled for tonight. The subjects we’ve collected thus far are about human rights and the environment. It looks like we’ll need to draft something fresh and new for tonight, because the topic is health care. Our Republican congressman, John Faso, has an 89.7 percent track record for voting “Yes” on Trump initiatives. He hasn’t been holding town meetings with constituents, he and his staff have stopped responding to letters, I’ve never had a phone call even answered, and his recent vote to repeal ObamaCare in the House has sparked this last minute protest down in the village of Schoharie, New York, where he’s the keynote speaker at a countywide Republican fundraiser. Continue reading

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Nadia Murad recognized by Occupy World Writes on IWD

“I have met young girls who were raped at an age when they didn’t even know what the word meant. I met people who lost their entire families; whole families were wiped out.”

Written by Carol Benedict

In 2014, ISIS advanced on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq (also known as Şengal in Kurdish), capturing or killing thousands of Yezidi (Ezidi) people. Many of the women were taken as sex slaves into the ISIS barbaric practices. Nadia Murad Bassee was one of those women. She survived long enough to escape.

Driven to end the suffering for her community in captivity and to stop an enemy bent on genocide of the Yezidi people, Nadia began to tell her story. Again and again. It became a burden of reliving those moments of hell so others would not have to. It meant revealing the most horrific details of her ordeal to get people to understand and listen. It is easier to hide than to step out of the shadows. Nadia did that, knowing full well what it meant.

In an interview from October of 2016, Nadia commented, “I was not raised to give speeches. Neither was I born to meet world leaders, nor to represent a cause so heavy, so difficult,” she said.

But she would continue “so that one day we can look our abusers in the eye in a court in The Hague and tell the world what they have done to us,” she said. “So my community can heal. So I can be the last girl to come before you.”

Murad was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, was named a United Nations good-will ambassador on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and she was widely mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2016.

NADIA’S MESSAGE

Being a survivor of genocide comes with great responsibility –for I am the lucky one.  Having lost my brothers, mother and many more family members and friends it is a responsibility I embrace fully and take very seriously.  My role as an activist is not just about my suffering  — it is about a collective suffering.  Telling my story and reliving the horrors I encountered is no easy task, but the world must know.  The world must feel a moral responsibility to act and if my story can influence world leaders to act then it must be told.

After the Holocaust, the world decried, “never again” but yet Genocide occurs with haunting frequency.  What’s puzzling to me is that it occurs in full view of the world community.  When ISIS trapped the Yazidi community on Sinjar Mountains, the world watched and world leaders chose not to act.  In fact, we still find ourselves begging the United Nations to act – to stop ISIS – to hold ISIS accountable for all the horrific crimes committed. A fundamental goal for me is to fight impunity for crimes committed against all margined communities devastated by global terrorism.

I am committed to leading a campaign to prompt peace through de-radicalization. I will focus my power to deliver a message to the Muslim world to condemn extremism, particularly against children and women, carried out in the name of Islam.  We must work together to counter terrorism and deter the youth  from joining or supporting radical groups and united to teach all youth the importance of tolerance towards the beliefs of others.

Recent terrorism brought sufferings beyond our any understanding, and women and children have become the population mostly affected, notable, human trafficking and mass  enslavement have become a tool used by terrorists to humiliate societies and humanity at large, I am committed to fight human trafficking and mass enslavement.

We cannot depend solely on the actions of the United Nations and world leaders.  Individuals can contribute to the fight as well.  If we all do our small part, in every corner of the world, I believe we can end genocide and mass atrocities against women and children.  If we have the courage to stand up and fight for those we don’t know – who live thousands of miles away – we can make a difference.   The world is one community and we need to act as such.

I ask you as a survivor and a friend, to join my Initiative and help all victims in the conflict zones, especially those targeted for their identify .  ISIS must be stopped.  Please contribute to this important cause, for we all humans that deserve to live peacefully.

With much gratitude,

Nadia Murad Bassee

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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Women’s March Against Trump Turns Into Global Day of Action

Over 600 marches will take place in 57 countries around the world

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-19-2017

Shepard Fairey’s “Defend Dignity” protest art, designed for the Women’s March and other inaugural weekend actions. (Image: Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant)

The Women’s March on Washington on January 21 has gone global, with over 600 “sister marches” planned in 57 countries that same day, as an international display of opposition to the far-right populism embodied by President-elect Donald Trump.

A map on the Women’s March Global site shows the hundreds of events worldwide:

A map of the "sister marches" around the world

With protests planned in Berlin, Oslo, Toronto, Nairobi, and other cities around the world, many organizers cite the threat to human and civil rights posed by Trump’s election.

“The recent elections in the United States have shown how real the threat is to our collective rights and liberties. We march together for the protection of our rights, our safety, our families, our health and the health of our planet—recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our society,” write organizers of the march in Nairobi, Kenya, on Facebook.

“We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.”
—Women’s March in Berlin
“Nationalist, racist and misogynistic trends are growing worldwide and threaten the most marginalized groups in our societies including women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQIA community, and people with disabilities,” states the Facebook page for the march in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The violence of the global capitalist system only upholds and strengthens these dangerous trends.”

In Berlin, Germany, organizers declared: “This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.”

And in Sydney, Australia, organizers write that they are marching “to raise our voices in defense of women’s rights and against hatred and bigotry.”

Artist Shepard Fairey, famous for the 2008 “HOPE” poster of Barack Obama, has also designed along with other artists a new series of downloadable protest art for the march called “We The People.” The posters, featuring only images of women, call on observers to “defend dignity,” “protect each other,” and be “greater than fear.”

Huffington Post reported last week that organizers are hoping the global day of action will result in new coalitions and a worldwide movement to fight the rise of hate, xenophobia, and the far-right around the world.

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Standing Rock: A Moment of Clarity for Progressive Activists

By Rev. Billy Talen. Published 11-26-2016 by Common Dreams

"The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight," writes Talen. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)

“The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight,” writes Talen. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)

Earth-force meets money-force at Standing Rock. I’m so relieved I’m here. It scares me to think that I might have missed this.

We get up at dawn. Four hundred people walk slowly in a light snow to the river by the camp. A teacher is talking. His headdress is a crisscrossing of long, narrow feathers. He is of the Havasupai, the people who live by the blue-green waterfalls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He calls out across the river. “Water is life! Take me! My heart beats with you!”

It’s cold at 7am. The children don’t seem cold though. They run around in the mud and ice. There are 80 tribes here. Some say many more. As we stand on the shore with a slow drum beating, the people shout “water” in many languages.  Continue reading

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From Rio, Olympic Refugee Team Urges Compassion for Displaced People

“It’s only a name to be a refugee”

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-3-2016

Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer on the Refugee Olympic Team.. Photo via Wikimedia commons

Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer on the Refugee Olympic Team.. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to imagine good news emerging from environmental chaos in Brazil and warfare around the globe, but a team of refugees competing at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this month stood in the spotlight on Tuesday, and took the opportunity to urge compassion for displaced people worldwide.

The 10 athletes on the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) were given a standing ovation as they joined the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“We are ambassadors for the other refugees. We cannot forget this chance that you gave us,” said Yiech Pur Biel, a track and field athlete originally from South Sudan. “We are not bad people. It’s only a name to be a refugee.” Continue reading

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IWD: Pledge For Parity

Today, March 8, 2016, is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is “Pledge for Parity” and will be recognized around the world as women gather in discussion, workshops, rallies and through outreach programs to not only celebrate the achievements of women in the past, but to also encourage future endeavors and accomplishments.

Pledge For Parity. We thought throughout the last year about who, while aligning with the mission and values we hold to, best represented the struggle of fighting for equality, be it gender, nationality, economic or ethnic in orientation. The goal with this year’s theme is to raise global awareness and bring women center-front in roles of governance, leadership, employment and opportunities in education. Efforts are also being made to eliminate gender-specific issues such as child brides, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other forms of female oppression and dehumanization to exert control.

Women have led the way in activism as well. If it were not for Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Michigan, the world might still not know of the lead-poisioned water crisis still unfolding there. Without Jane Kleib and her efforts with Bold Nebraska, there would most likely be a really ugly pipeline being installed in Nebraska. If it were not for the life of Rozerin Chukar, we might not have a full understanding of the tragedy unfolding in Turkey’s SE region. All these women are considered worthy of the honor of our International Woman of the Year award.

Unfortunately, something occurred last Thursday that simplified our task, leading to our first and hopefully last posthumous nomination for International Woman of the Year.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Our 2016 International Woman of the Year award goes to Berta Cáceres, the co-founder of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). An internationally known indigenous and environmental activist and organizer, Berta was assassinated in her home last Thursday. Democracy Now! ran an excellent piece on her the morning after she was assassinated; we’ve taken the liberty of republishing it here:

Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras.

In 1993 she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). For years the group faced a series of threats and repression.

According to Global Witness, Honduras has become the deadliest country in the world for environmentalists. Between 2010 and 2014, 101 environmental campaigners were killed in the country.

In 2015 Berta Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s leading environmental award. In awarding the prize, the Goldman Prize committee said, “In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Berta Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.”

Statement from SOA Watch:

HONDURAS–At approximately 11:45pm last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.

Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources.

Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.

Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20, 2016, Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. As a result of COPINH’s work supporting the Rio Blanco struggle, Berta Cáceres had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights. On February 25, 2016, another Lenca community supported by COPINH in Guise, Intibuca was violently evicted and destroyed.

Since the 2009 military coup, that was carried out by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country’s land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities. Repression of social movements and targeted assassinations are rampant. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate. Honduran human rights organizations report there have been over 10,000 human rights violations by state security forces and impunity is the norm–most murders go unpunished. The Associated Press has repeatedly exposed ties between the Honduran police and death squads, while U.S. military training and aid for the Honduran security forces continues.

The Democracy Now! article was republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

 

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Where do women belong in Indian cities?

While men can be seen hanging around, women are expected to have a purpose for being outdoors. This question must be addressed.

By Asiya Islam. Published 2-26-2016 at openDemocracy

A woman sits in front of her shop near Aligarh. Evonne/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

A woman sits in front of her shop near Aligarh. Evonne/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Every time I go back to Aligarh, my hometown in India, I see a new eating spot. McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s and Café Coffee Day are very recent additions to the city. Aligarh, pretty much like Oxford and Cambridge, is primarily a university city although it is also known for lock making and some handicrafts. When I went to the Women’s College, Aligarh Muslim University for my Bachelor’s almost a decade ago, I hung out mostly at the canteens in the college and university and went for lunch to local restaurants. The big city offerings of coffee, fried chicken and burgers were not around then (the closest we got to international cuisine was spicy chowmein which was probably more Indian than Chinese); those were the temptations of Delhi, the metropolis nearest to us. Continue reading

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Breaking the Silence: What Rape Feels Like

The investigator leaned across his desk.

“What were you wearing?” He asked as if that made a difference. When my answer didn’t satisfy him, he asked the next one.

“Had you been drinking/”

Questions like these not only signaled to me that somehow this person felt it necessary to place partial blame on me for the crime I was victim to.

By U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what really happened.

It was 11:30 pm.

I left my job and walked to my car. Jolted by the cold wind, I unlocked the door and slipped inside as quickly as I could.

Before I could insert the key into the ignition, I felt his arm around my neck. I smelled the stench of his breath and felt its heat on the back of my neck as every hair raised in a cold chill. His other hand came from the side, showing me the gun it held.

He somehow pulled me into the back seat and held the gun to my head as he demanded I remove my slacks. His assault was brutal, each thrust a pain like a knife as my body rejected him despite the gun. By the time he was done I was swallowing my own vomit to prevent him from pulling the trigger.

After relieving my stomach and finding what was left of my clothing, I drove to my apartment and stumbled up the flight of steps. Without thinking, I ignored my roommates and went immediately to the bathroom, where I threw up again and began filling the bathtub. I wanted the smell, feel and memory of him gone.

It took four days for close friends to talk me into reporting the incident.

After picking the person out of a photo identification process, I was told to go home and I would hear something soon. I’m still waiting. This happened in 1980.

I still carry the scars today. From the PTSD diagnosis to just not feeling at ease around strangers, daily reminders of my nightmare creep into my current world.

We have gained little since then – in how we handle rape victims and in how we punish the rapist. 68% of rapes are never reported to the police. 98% of rapists will never spend a day in jail or prison.

The most offensive are the men that take it upon themselves to discuss rape like they are an authority on the subject; unless they are a rapist or a victim, they are not. I hear politicians say things that not only are insulting, they continue to place blame on the victim. Our justice system will be more lenient on a rapist than any other charge – because they think it is a “he said, she said” argument.

And now – to make everything even worse – we are hearing discussions about the rights of the father and how a raped woman should not be allowed to abort the unwanted pregnancy. Forced indenturehood has a name in our country, it is called slavery.

This is no longer a women’s issue. This is a national crisis. We have all the money in the world to pour into a military budget, so men can go blow things up somewhere, but we will not spend an additional dime to protect our own mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. We expect them to protect themselves, and if that plan fails, we blame them by asking what they were wearing, if they had been drinking, or did they ever smile at the person.

What are you going to do to help change this?

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