Saturday, April 30, 2011

UN body calls for Syria crackdown probe - Al Jazeera & Uganda's Novel Approach To Non-Violence Protests "Walk To Work"

Ugandas Novel Approach to Protesting against their government by merely taking the action of "Walking To Work"
This is a lesson in non-violent mass protests -note there are no protest signs etc. Just people walking.

UN body calls for Syria crackdown probe - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Over 500 protesters have been killed in Syria by its security forces
Syria Governments Brutal crackdown continue

Syria Update: 'Death over Dignity'

 In Uganda citizens protesting about rising prices have chosen a novel way to gain attention for their grievances simply by walking to work  rather than holding massive demonstarions and marches.

The Ugandan "Walk to work" protests should be an example to other nations not just in the Middle East and Africa but also in western nations including the USA.

Imagine if you can millions of Americans walking to work to protest against the US governments austerity plans and its further enrichment of the well to do in America or for the ongoing expense of military expenditure in order to defend America's illegitimate Empire.

But as we know most Americans for example are too apathetic or consider any who protest as being too radical or even UnAmerican as for the rest most Americans do not have the conviction or the individual bravery to stand up for a cause in the way that Ugandans, Syrians, Bahrainis, Iraqi, Egyptians , Saudi Arabians have.

These people much maligned by the US government and the US media should be praised and be recognized for their fearlessness in the face of brutal and deadly force meted out by their own governments.

In Uganda citizens protesting about rising prices have chosen a novel way to gain attention for their grievances simply by walking to work rather than holding massive demonstarions and marches.

The Ugandan's governments response is to arrest hundreds of people just for walking to work.
It is an awesomely simple and direct form of non-violent protest which could possibly used in other countries even in western nations .
What government would receive support for arresting people just for walking to work.
Arresting people taking part in such a simple demonstration of protest would be seen as draconian that is without legitimacy.
Legitimate concerns over national security and the functioning of the state would not have much weight when citizens are merely exercising their right to simply walk to work.
In carrying out such a demonstration the citizens of any country could say they are doing so for their own personal health and to reduce pollution by not using cars or public transit.

   " Being hauled up before courts and jailed just because you have chosen to walk to work as a form of protest is something unimaginable in many countries. But in Uganda it happens.

Security forces are harassing and have been locking up opposition politicians and their supporters who are taking part in a protest against spiralling food and fuel prices by walking to work.

The walk-to-work protest, as it is called, began on April 11. A group calling itself Activists for Change (A4C) organised the demonstration and opposition politicians - keen to show they are concerned about people's discontent over rising prices - heeded the call to take part.

But the protest got off to a stuttering start as the leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, was promptly intercepted by security forces when he was leaving his home in Kasangati near Kampala, the capital. Another politician, Nobert Mao, head of the Democratic Party, and an opposition MP were also picked up.

Besigye, who was arrested for a fourth time on Thursday a day after he was freed on bail on condition that he does not stage more protests, had been given three options: To return to his house or be driven to work in a police vehicle or send for his personal car and drive to work. He chose none.

The tense standoff that ensued and resulted in Besigye getting shot in the right hand - as supporters who were dispersed by police amid plumes of tear gas joined him - shows no sign of easing and has led to more protests.
It is not hard to see the source of the discontent. The government is planning to buy eight fighter jets for $740m when its people cannot afford food. Government officials justify this spending by saying Uganda needs to beef up its defence systems, if it is to protect its newfound oil near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

To add insult to injury, $1.3m will be splashed out on a swearing-in ceremony for President Yoweri Museveni, who won re-election in February. Several heads of state have been invited to grace what promises to be a colourful ceremony.

Sounding ever so defiant, Besigye told a crowd of his supporters shortly after his release that he would stage more walk-to-work protests.
On April 28 security forces resumed their crackdown, smashing the window of Besigye's car as he drove into Kampala and spraying him with pepper before bundling him on the back of a pick-up truck.

The crackdown has so far killed five people, including three in the northern town of Gulu and a two-year-old girl in Masaka, 120km south of Kampala.

"We never knew the government is so threatened to the extent" of shooting innocent civilians, Salaamu Musumba, a former MP and vice-president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the party Besigye heads, told Al Jazeera.
The government blames the violence on the actions of the opposition; the opposition say their right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the constitution. Security forces, they argue, do not have to use brute force to disperse unarmed protesters.

The protesters may be unarmed but Kale Kayihura, the chief of the police, told reporters days after the first protest was dispersed that the opposition were trying to use demonstrators to topple a duly elected government.

That accusation seems to gain credence from the utterances made by Besigye on his campaign trail in the run-up to the February 18 presidential elections that he lost to Museveni. It was his third straight electoral defeat since 2001, when he first had a shot at the presidency"

Al Jazeera reports that Syrian civilians are pleading for international intervention to condemn attocities being committed by Syrian government and its security foces against unarmed protesters. "Where are the international human rights organizations/agencies???"

The south Syrian flashpoint town of Deraa has been hit by fresh shelling and heavy gunfire, as residents bury people killed in Friday's "day of rage" protests against the government, a witness tells Al Jazeera.
The army has been firing at protesters in neighbourhoods in Deraa's old town and at least four houses in the Karak neighbourhood have been damaged by shelling, according to the witness.

The shelling started at 03:00GMT on Saturday, the witness said.

"We are totally besieged. It is a tragedy. Many houses are levelled by shelling from the army. For the past six days we haven’t seen an ambulance," the witness said via telephone, while gunfire rang out in the background.

"We are keeping the bodies of the dead in refrigerator trucks, but many bodies are still lying in the streets. Many of the bodies are bloated and are reeking."
Tanks had been pounding the northern part of Deraa around the Omari Mosque since morning, another witness told Al Jazeera via telephone, the sound of the bombardment audible in the background.
Response so far :
The UN Human Rights Council has endorsed a US call for an investigative mission into the bloodshed in Syria by voting for a resolution that also condemned a violent government crackdown in the country.
The resolution, approved on Friday, "unequivocally condemns the use of lethal violence against peaceful protesters by the Syrian authorities... and urges the Syrian government to immediately put an end to all human rights violations".

It also "requests the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urgently dispatch a mission to the Syrian Arab Republic to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law," according to the text released by the United Nations.

Eileen Donahoe, the US human rights ambassador, said that the fact-finding mission would look into violations committed by Syrian forces.

"The international community strongly condemns the behaviour demonstrated by the Syrian authorities with respect to peaceful protesters in their own country," Donahoe said.

"Opening live fire, sending in snipers and tanks to quell demonstrations is unacceptable."

Although the western resolution was watered down, the vote managed to rally crucial African and Latin American support to overcome Russia and China's powerful opposition to international condemnation of Syria.

Several Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, also abstained or were absent when the vote was called, despite Syria's warnings that the resolution "sent the wrong message" to violent protesters.

Twenty-six countries voted for the text, including some African and Latin American nations that had voiced qualms during the special session on Syria, while nine voted against.

and so it goes,


Michael said...

Every one knows that it is an awesomely simple and direct form of non-violent protest which could possibly used in other countries even in western nations. The Ugandan's governments response is to arrest hundreds of people just for walking to work.

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