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Index November 2007

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NATIONALISM AND THE LEFT IN SRI LANKA

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Linked with Rohini Hensman – Sri Lanka.

Published on Lines Magazine, by Rohini Hensman, February 2003.

Often we use one word to describe a complex historical process involving diverse social forces that converge at a certain point in time; at that point, it seems appropriate to use the word, yet as soon as the convergence unravels, we are in trouble. Nationalism is such a word. Any alliance between the classes constituting the ‘nation’ is bound to be fragile and ephemeral. The fundamental premise of nationalism – that all those who constitute the nation have a community of interest greater than the common interest any segment of that nation may have with others outside it – is an illusion which only those in power have an interest in fostering.

As Max Adler pointed out, ‘imperialism and its World War’ grew organically out of the nationalism of the industrialised nations. Each state, in order to secure the interests of its bourgeoisie, strove to control larger and larger areas of the globe, and at first the prosperity arising from imperialist expansion gave workers in these countries a stake in it: ‘there arises on the ground of national politics a sudden community of interest between capital and the proletariat, which finds expression in an identical inclination of both classes to imperialism’.

But what about the nationalism of the colonies and oppressed nations? It was Rosa Luxemburg who argued most passionately that ‘the famous “right of self-determination of nations” is nothing but hollow, petty bourgeois phraseology and humbug’. How could she reconcile this position with her own declaration that ‘socialism opposes every form of oppression, including also that of one nation by another’?

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Playing Lions and Tigers

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Linked with Rohini Hensman – Sri Lanka.

Published on Lines Magazine, by Rohini Hensman, November 2003.

Excerpt from a short story: … Sarath slipped into his new job like a duckling into water. Having spent so much time first observing and then assisting his father, there was not much he could learn from anyone else. He was based at the main union office in Colombo, but soon started being sent out to set up a new office in the fledgling industrial area north of the capital. This was a different type of industry, with a large proportion of women workers and fierce opposition to trade unions from employers. He had only one colleague to help him, a young woman called Ranmali who was even newer than he was. Together they struggled to make inroads in this tough and unfamiliar territory.

All Sarath’s skills were called into play soon after he started work, when the union was rocked by an earthquake that split it down the middle. Sarath merely saw this as a challenge, but his father, who had nursed the union from its infancy, was shattered. ‘It’s not the end of the world, Thaththa,’ Sarath tried to comfort him.

‘Nearly half the workers have come with us, and maybe we’re better off without those rotten Sinhala chauvinist elements. I don’t agree that there shouldn’t have been a split over this issue. After all, the whole rationale of a union is to build workers’ unity; how can we compromise with people who want to divide workers along ethnic and linguistic lines?’

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Leaderless and clueless America heads for the trash can of history

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Published on Online Journal, by Paul Craig Roberts, Guest Writer, Nov 28, 2007.

an experpt: … Americans are unable to connect their dissatisfaction with the current political leadership with their choice of new leaders. All polls show that Hillary Clinton is far in the lead for the Democratic presidential nomination and Rudy Giuliani is far in the lead for the Republican nomination These are the only two candidates guaranteed to be worse than Bush/Cheney.

Both Hillary and Rudy are committed to the war. Both refuse to rule out expanding the war to Iran and beyond. Both are totally in the pocket of the Israel Lobby. Indeed, practically every Giuliani advisor is a member of the Lobby. Both defend the police state measures that “protect us from terrorism.” And neither gives a hoot for the US Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees. The Republican Giuliani is likely to overturn the Second Amendment even quicker than the Democrat Hillary.

Both Hillary and Rudy are creatures of ambition, not of principle. Both are one up on Karl Marx. Marx said truth serves class interests. For Hillary and Rudy, truth is what serves their individual interests. They both wear black hats, and the horse they ride is called power.

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Let’s Reclaim Our Rights

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Missed Opportunities? Conspiracy? Vested interests? Or just plain stupidity?

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Gunther Ostermann, 27 November, 2007.

What are human beings fundamental birthrights? We need to know – and claim it, especially for the disenfranchised and future generations, who cannot speak for themselves.

Many people are concerned about injustice, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, drug addicts, healthcare, crime, war, terrorism, globalization, species extinction, natural resource depletion, pollution, climate change, and many other miseries that are destroying our beautiful planet.

The late scientist Buckminster Fuller researched those problems and came to the following conclusion, in his book CRITICAL PATH in 1982:

Gallipoli for Dummies

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Linked with Adam Engel – USA, and with Strike the Root STR.

Published on strike-the-root.com, by Adam Engel, November 1, 2004.

Hello, Boobus Americanus. It’s been almost two years since we last spoke. You’ve gotten yourself into all sorts of mischief since then. War, environmental meltdown, economic distress. You’re a mess. All because you follow THE MAN, even though THE MAN, in HIS current incarnation, is a coterie of fanatics, Chicken Hawks, religious zealots, liars, dual-loyalists and outright traitors.

The first order of business really should be that $400 Billion of YOUR tax money HE and his Congressional YESMEN are spending on a military that exists not to defend your home, but attack HIS enemies. In this case, all those nukes, at least 5,000 stored away complete with missiles to deliver them, might serve you well. For a couple of billion dollars, keep ‘em oiled and shiny and ready to launch and I guarantee you no one – except those pesky terrorists – would bother to attack you. If you pulled your $400 Billion military out of all the places in the world it shouldn’t be present and stopped giving away military “gift packages” to countries like Israel and Columbia , you might even find that even the terrorists wouldn’t bother you. Then all you’d need is a coast guard and the organized militias they talk about in the Constitution …

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Rudd to apologise to Aborigines

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Published on BBCnews, November 26, 2007.

Australia’s new government will issue a formal apology to Aborigines for the abuses they suffered in the past, prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd has promised. Mr Rudd, whose Labor Party swept to power in an election on Saturday, said the apology would come early in his first parliamentary term. Outgoing Prime Minister John Howard had repeatedly refused to say sorry.

Votes are still being counted in Mr Howard’s constituency, where he faces losing his seat to a former TV host.

‘Humiliating’ defeat: Indigenous Australians remain an impoverished minority, with a much lower life expectancy than the rest of the population. Thousands of Aboriginal children were handed over to white families under Australian government assimilation policies from 1915 to 1969. The issue continues to be a controversial one among Australians … (full text).

Oh Gott! Atheisten argumentieren …

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Fünf Radio-Sendungen können Sie hier im WDR3 als Podcast

http://www.wdr.de/radio/wdr3/sendung.phtml?sendung=TagesZeichen&termineid=399438
herunterladen. Klicken Sie auf eine der unterstehenden Links:

Teil 1: Der Religionssoziologe Günter Kehrer über die Geschichte der Gesetzestafeln des Mannes Moses, 4.11 minuten;

Teil 2: Der Neurologe Thomas Metzinger bewertet die Glaubensentscheidung als Verdrängung, 4.11 minuten;

Teil 3: Peter Riedesser züchtigt die alttestamentarische Erziehung, 4.11 minuten;
(Ok, auch Links können einen Murks haben: hier erscheint die Message: ‘RealMedia File Format, Invalid Data Header in file “ram7CD.ram”. The file is unreadable.’ Schade, gerade dieser Hinweis auf Erziehung interessiert mich am meisten);

Teil 4: Der Evolutionsbiologe Thomas Junker entdeckt Murks im “Intelligent Design”, 4.53 minuten;

Teil 5: Michael Schmidt-Salomon über die ganz normale Gottlosigkeit, 4.11 minuten.

Wyoming Conference bishop calls for troop withdrawal

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Published on Press & Sun-Bulletin, by William Moyer, November 24, 2007.

ENDICOTT – Bishop Susan W. Hassinger of the local Wyoming Conference has joined the United Methodist Church’s highest-ranking spiritual and administrative leaders in demanding an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The anti-war message carries significance in the religious community because it comes from the leaders of the country’s and the Southern Tier’s largest mainline Protestant church, and the denomination of which President George W. Bush is a member.

The action is aimed directly at Bush, said Donald Perry, director of communications at the Wyoming Conference office in Endicott. “War is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ,” said Perry. “It’s a reminder to the president of what his church is saying and has said about war” …

… Hassinger said the call for an immediate “safe and full withdrawal” of troops from Iraq is based on the bishops’ collective understanding of the Gospel, including Jesus’ role as peacemaker. Hassinger noted a provision calling for the healing of wounds to everyone affected by the war — troops and civilians — was essential to her support of the resolution … (full text).

Tier bishop joins call for Iraq exit, Plea comes from leaders of Bush’s denomination, by William Moyer, November 25, 2007 – Bishop Susan W. Hassinger of the local Wyoming Conference has joined the United Methodist Church’s highest-ranking spiritual and administrative leaders in demanding an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq … (full text);

Links:

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UN: Special Rapporteur on torture …

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Published on OHCHR.

Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment:

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1985/33, decided to appoint an expert, a special rapporteur, to examine questions relevant to torture. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The mandate comprises three main activities: transmitting urgent appeals to States with regard to individuals reported to be at risk of torture, as well as communications on past alleged cases of torture; undertaking fact-finding country visits; and submitting annual reports on activities, the mandate and methods of work to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

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Human Rights-, good practice citizenship- and tolerance-education

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Received by mail:

From: hr-education, the Global Human Rights Education
Date: November 23, 2007

Final call FINAL CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, Deadline: December 1, 2007:

Compendium of good practices in human rights education in the school system, including citizenship education and education for mutual respect and understanding

We cordially invite you to submit examples of good practice in the area of human rights education, civics, and education for mutual respect and understanding (tolerance education).

HREA is assisting the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR), the Council of Europe, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in compiling a compendium of good practices in school systems.

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Haiti – Survival And Poverty In Carrefour

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Published on Countercurrents.org, by Nazaire St Fort, 21 November, 2007.

Carrefour is one of the most impoverished and populous districts of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. It is located several miles from downtown Port-au-Prince, flanked on the west by the bay of La Gonave and to the east by the bay of Hospital Mountain. Among Carrefour’s many slums Souray is the most impoverished, amazingly given the wealth generating potential of its beaches.

How did beaches become slums?

Massive migration from the countryside since the second half of the 20th century has vastly outpaced the willingness and capacity of the public and private sector to provide jobs, education and housing. The poor quickly occupy the few abandoned buildings in Carrefour.

Squatters take up property on the beaches, as did those who migrated to other poor communities such as Site Soley, Lasalin, Site de Letenel and Site de Dye. Souray residents are often reduced to using large rags to divide their shacks up into rooms. They subsist as best they can. Old men gather excitingly to play dominos, a popular past time amongst the poor.

Relentless population pressure forces people to use the sea as a dump so that the slum can expand. Old men try to eke out a living by fishing in the polluted sea. These fishermen have no technical or economic assistance from the state Agriculture department … (full text).

Le TPIR a ordonné le renvoi …

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… devant la justice française de Wenceslas Munyeshyaka et Laurent Bucyibaruta.

Publié par LDH la ligue des droits de l’homme, le novembre 22, 2007.

La Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme (FIDH), la Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH), le Collectif des parties civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), et Survie:

Paris, le 22 novembre 2007 – La Chambre de première instance du Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda (TPIR) vient d’annoncer qu’elle confiait à la Justice française le soin de juger Wenceslas MUNYESHYAKA et Laurent BUCYIBARUTA (1).

Nos organisations expriment leur satisfaction devant cette décision qui va permettre de juger ceux qui vivent en France depuis des années sans avoir à répondre de leurs actes. Pour rappel, la demande du TPIR intervient alors que des informations judiciaires sont ouvertes en France contre Wenceslas MUNYESHYAKA et Laurent BUCYIBARUTA depuis douze et huit ans. Présents sur le territoire français, ces deux présumés génocidaires rwandais ont, en effet, été mis en examen par des juges d’instruction français suite aux plaintes des associations signataires et de victimes rwandaises.

Elles appellent la Justice française à se saisir sans délai des dossiers de Wenceslas MUNYESHYAKA et Laurent BUCYIBARUTA et demandent à ce que ne se renouvellent pas les errements qui ont conduit à la condamnation de la France par la Cour européenne des droits de l’Homme pour la lenteur de sa justice dans l’examen de la plainte contre MUNYESHYAKA (2).

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Life After Colonialism

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Linked with Mandisi Majavu – South Africa.

Published on Znet, by Mandisi Majavu, September 19, 2007.

3 excerpts: … Many decolonisation projects in Africa did not produce the results we fought, dreamt and hoped for simply because, among other things, we did not have a clearly articulated and liberatory alternative system to replace the old colonial order. I use the word ‘liberatory’ in a ‘Bakuninian’ sense. According to Bakunin (1998), liberty is the only context in which people’s intellect, dignity and happiness can increase and grow, as opposed to the formal liberty doled out, measured and regulated by the State. Further, Bakunin reminds us, it is important to keep in mind that the State, as we know it, represents and is there to serve the interests of the privileged few in reality.

Post-colonial thinkers have yet to conceptualise a liberatory State structure that does not facilitate a mere replacement of the old colonial ruling class with the new post-colonial ruling elite. We have yet to come up with a political and economic vision of life after colonialism. In many post-colonial countries, economic life became slightly different in the sense that the ownership of workplaces and resource was transferred from the hands of colonial masters to the hands of a new black elite. Old bosses were chased away, but new bosses emerged. The same pattern can be seen taking shape in post-apartheid South Africa …

… Self-management:

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30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

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Published on ICRC.

The 30th International Conference grouping the National Societies, their International Federation, the ICRC and the 194 States party to the Geneva Conventions, will take place on 26 to 30 November 2007, in Geneva, at the International Conference Center (CICG).

The 30th International Conference will be preceded by the Council of Delegates (23-24 November 2007) and by the General Assembly of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (20-22 November 2007).

Provisional Agenda; working docs (also available in French, Spanish and Arabic); Register; e-mail.

International Telecommunication Union

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Press Release published on ITU, Geneva 16 November 2007.

ITU World Radiocommunication Conference concludes after four weeks
International treaty sets future course for wireless

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 (WRC-07) concluded its deliberations with the adoption of an international treaty to meet the global demand for radio-frequency spectrum.

Over 2800 delegates representing 164 Member States and 104 Observers attended the four-week Conference, marked by intense negotiations on the future of wireless communications. Rapid technological developments and growth in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector have fuelled the demand for spectrum.

The international treaty, known as Radio Regulations governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits were revised and updated by WRC-07 to achieve the global connectivity goals of the 21st Century.

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The South Asian Citizens Web SACW.net

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SACW.net is an independent space on the internet to promote exchange of information between and about citizens initiatives from South Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and its diasporic communities.

They write about themes like:

Initiated and managed since 1996 by Harsh Kapoor, now operating under the aegis of Social Change Communications (A registered non profit in France).

Many articles about Development, Freedom, Human Rights etc.

Mail-contact.

Thoughts from a tired, but joyous activist

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Published on Emergency, by iFaqeer, 15 November 2007.

Folks I need to get some sleep. I have installed Picasa and will get more functional on the Wiki and lists and so on tomorrow. Promise.

Shab Bakhair, as the traditional greeting goes; a good night to all–and may the Subha, the morning, be even brighter. I am not kidding when I say that my pride and joy in all the activism and engagement we are seeing today far, far outweighs my pessimism over where our country and our communities (South Asian, Progressive, Muslim, …) find themselves today. At least for this one moment in time, it is good to be part of something.

I haven’t yet gone to a gathering where I can open up and just scream some naa’ray, but that might change this weekend. I leave you with something that’s a work in progress and an attempt to update the chant of the late 70s when the people borrowed Bhutto’s “Jamhuriyath kay theen nishaan; Talba, Mazdhoor aur Kisan” [Democracy (has its) three symbols; The Students, The Workers and The Peasant] and chanted:
(full text).

Death Penalty Resolution Adopted

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because of concerns about Human Rights says EU President

Linked with call for halt to executions, Nov. 7, 2007.

Published on UN.org, Radio News Service, by Gail Walker, November 16, 2007.

Ambassador Joao Manuel Guerra Salgueiro, President of the European Union, says member states of the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly voted to adopt a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty in part because of their concerns about human rights. The Ambassador rejected claims that the resolution sought to impose values on all member states and noted the broad support for the resolution. Now that the third committee — which addresses social, humanitarian and cultural issues – has approved the resolution, the matter can be discussed in the full General Assembly sometime after mid-December. Gail Walker reports. Full briefing and cuts below.

Download the short audio, or listen on UN’s website to the short raw audio.

More cuts on UN.org.

INSIDERS EXPOSE REASONS FOR UFO SECRECY

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Received by mail:

From: Disclosure Project.org
Date: 14/11/2007

Disclosure Project Director Dr. Steven M. Greer reports that government insiders have revealed the existence of a shadowy, highly classified program related to UFOs.

(For all information or for an interview with Dr. Greer contact us by e-mail, or look at our website ‘contact‘).

The reasons for the secrecy are simple: The inertia of highly classified programs, embarrassment over past illegal actions taken to enforce secrecy, and the fact that the energy and propulsion systems behind the mysterious UFO objects have been studied and fully understood. This disclosure would spell the end for oil, gas, coal and other conventional forms of power – and with that, the end of the current oil-based geopolitical order and economy. The truth is our tax dollars have been used to investigate this matter for decades and it is time for a dividend on that investment. The full disclosure of the facts will enable humanity to attain a sustainable civilization without global warming or the need for oil.

Recent calls for a US government investigation into UFOs have not taken into account the fact that such investigations are on-going, highly compartmented and top-secret.

Dr. Greer states, “As early as 1993, when I personally briefed CIA Director James Woolsey on the UFO matter, we knew of on-going, secret projects to which President Clinton and Mr. Woolsey were denied access. The senior counsel for the Senate Appropriations Committee, then headed by Senator Byrd (D-WV) told me directly that upwards of $100 billion per year was going into so-called ‘black’ projects, including UFO programs, but that with a top-secret clearance and a subpoena power, he could not penetrate the veil of secrecy.”

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Burmese’s struggle

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Published by Associate Press, by MICK ELMORE, November 16, 2007

Myanmar Rubies Have Dealers Seeing Red.

2 excerpts: BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — The rich red hue of Myanmar’s prized rubies is a reminder to many gem dealers of the military government’s bloody crackdown on democracy advocates, and talk of a boycott is increasing.

“There is a growing awareness that it is a fascist regime,” said Brian Leber, a third generation American gem dealer.

“Considering what this regime has done to its own people, we’re troubled to see that a precious stone is offering such a great source of cash for them,” he said in a telephone interview from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs, Ill.

“Trade in these stones supports human rights abuses,” New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement this week. “The sale of these gems gives Burma’s military rulers quick cash to stay in power.” Myanmar is also called Burma.

But a successful boycott of what activists call “blood rubies” will prove difficult. More than 1,500 people from more than 20 countries registered for a gems auction that opened Wednesday, despite the boycott calls. While some rubies are exported legally, many also are smuggled out of Myanmar …

… American companies stopped buying rubies in 2003, when the United States banned imports of all Myanmar products under a law enacted in reaction to the ruling generals’ human rights abuses.

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Leaked rules detail rewards and penalties at Guantánamo

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Published on The Guardian, by Ewen MacAskill in Washington, November 16, 2007.

2 excerpts: The inner workings of the Guantánamo detention camp, ranging from items allowed in cells to how many witnesses should be present for cavity searches, have been revealed in a Pentagon manual leaked on the internet.

The manual covers almost every aspect of life at the base, from arrival to burial – with a graphic showing how Muslims should be buried.

Although the manual dates from 2003, the year after the camp at the US navy base in Cuba opened and before some changes in its running were implemented, it offers a rare glimpse of life in the high-security camp. The 238 pages list the rules governing the daily life of the prisoners but also provide insights into how the US guards and interrogators view the inmates …

… Main points:

  • Behaviour management plan to “enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganisation felt by a newly arrived detainee”;
  • A reward system to encourage cooperation;
  • Access to Red Cross denied to some prisoners;
  • Guards told line to take with media: “We are making progress in global war on terror through a concerted effort with coalition partners”.

(full text).

Awareness Is Overrated

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Published on Countercurrents.org, by Mickey Z., 12 November, 2007.

Analysis brings no curative powers in its train; it merely makes us conscious of the existence of an evil, which, oddly enough, is consciousness” (-Henry Miller).

Everywhere I hear about the need to raise “awareness.” So much so, that awareness and consciousness appear to have become the goals: ends in and of themselves. If only we were conscious of “what’s going in Darfur” or aware of how “prevalent cancer has become” or whatever else we need to recognize, it seems most folks would be mighty satisfied.

My question: When exactly does all this goddamned awareness translate into productive action and tangible change?

“I expected to die,” Black Panther Huey Newton said back in the day. “At no time before the trial did I expect to escape with my life. Yet being executed in the gas chamber did not necessarily mean defeat. It could be one more step to bring the community to a higher level of consciousness.”

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UN Human Rights Council’s Information Note to NGOs

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Published on OHCHR.

Information note for NGOs regarding the Universal Periodic Review mechanism (as of 16 October 2007)

(Info note available also in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish)

This preliminary note aims at informing NGOs and providing them with some guidance on the way they may contribute to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the new review mechanism established by the Human Rights Council in Resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007. Further suggested guidelines on NGO participation in the UPR will be provided by the OHCHR Civil Society Unit.

General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which created the Human Rights Council, decided that the Council shall “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialogue, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs; such a mechanism shall complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies (…)”. (article 5 (e)). (full text).

Link: UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW.

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste

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Published on UNMIT.org, 32 pages.

Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section, Report on human rights developments in Timor-Leste, August 2006 – August 2007.

An excerpt, page 10 ff: … HRTJS recognizes the intention of the Timor-Leste Government to make determined efforts to combat poverty and youth unemployment, as expressed in the Government’s Program and the International Compact for Timor-Leste.10 The situation shows a clear link between poverty, frustration and instability. There is an urgent need to develop social safety nets for support to the poor and vulnerable. Public works and cash transfer programs would be some of the measures that could safeguard economic and social rights and stimulate the economy.11 The lack of access to basic services, however, is profoundly affected by the absence of a regulatory and legal framework through which citizens can claim their rights. A draft labour code has not been approved to date, while more efforts need to be undertaken to discuss and adopt a comprehensive framework on land and property rights. The displacement of at least 10% of the population during the 2006 crisis underlines the critical socio-economic conditions in Timor-Leste, and further aggravated the situation by igniting new conflicts between IDPs who are receiving services, and poor communities that are not benefiting from humanitarian assistance.

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