Powered by millions of online actions and donations from 75,000 of us, our community is playing a central role in supporting the Syrian people as they persist in peaceful protest against all odds. Together, we’re empowering citizen journalism, smuggling in medical supplies and western journalists, and much more.We’re making a difference, but the staggering bravery of the Syrian people is their gift to the rest of us. Read this email for the full story, or look at this recent media coverage of Avaaz’s work on Syria: BBC, CNN, El Pais,TIME, The Guardian, Der Spiegel,AFP.
This morning, 4 western journalists are home safe with their families, the echoes of the horror and heroism of Baba Amr still ringing in their ears. Over 50 Syrian activists, supported by Avaaz, volunteered to rescue them and scores of wounded civilians from the Syrian army’s killzone. Many of those incredible activists have not survived the week.
Abu Hanin is one of the heroes. He’s 26, a poet, and when his community needed him, he took the lead in organizing the citizen journalists that Avaaz has supported to help the voices of Syrians reach the world. The last contact with Abu Hanin was on Thursday, as regime troops closed in on his location. He read his last will and testament to the Avaaz team in Beirut, and told us where he had buried the bodies of the two western journalists killed in the shelling. Since then, his neighborhood of Baba Amr has been a black hole, and we still don’t know his fate.
It’s easy to despair when seeing Syria today, but to honour the dead, we must carry forward the hope they died with. As Baba Amr went dark and fears of massacre spread, Syrians took to the streets — yet again — across the country, in a peaceful protest that showed staggering bravery.
Their bravery is our lesson, the gift of the Syrian people to the rest of us. Because in their spirit, in their courage to face the worst darkness our world has to offer, a new world is being born.
And in that new world, the Syrian people are not alone. Millions of us from every nation have stood with them time and time again, right from the beginning of their struggle. Nearly 75,000 of us have donated almost $3 million to fund people-powered movements and deliver high-tech communications equipment to help them tell their story, and enable the Avaaz team to help smuggle in over $2 million worth of medical supplies. We’ve taken millions of online actions to push for action from the Security Council and the Arab League and for sanctions from many countries, and delivered those online campaigns in dozens of stunts, media campaigns and high-level advocacy meetings with top world leaders. Together we’ve helped win many of these battles, including for unprecedented action by the Arab League, and oil sanctions from Europe.
Our team in Beirut has also provided a valuable communications hub for brave and skilled activists to coordinate complex smuggling operations and the rescue of the wounded and the journalists. Avaaz does not direct these activities, but we facilitate, support and advise. We have also established safe houses for activists, and supported the outreach and diplomatic engagement of the Syrian National Council — the opposition movement’s fledgling political representative body. Much of the world’s major media have covered Avaaz’s work to help the Syrian people, including features on BBC, CNN, El Pais, TIME, The Guardian, Der Spiegel,AFP and many more, citing our “central role” in the Syrian peaceful protest movement.
Today, a dozen more nightmares like that visited on the city of Homs are unfolding across Syria. The situation will get worse before it gets better. It will be bloody, and complicated, and as some protesters take up arms to defend themselves, the line between right and wrong will blur. But President Assad’s brutal regime will fall, and there will be peace, and elections, and accountability. The Syrian people simply will not stop until that happens — and it may happen sooner than we all think.
Every expert told us at the beginning that an uprising in Syria was unthinkable. But we sent in satellite communications equipment anyway. Because our community knows something that the experts and cynics don’t — that people power and a new spirit of citizenship are sweeping our world today, and they are fearless, and unstoppable, and will bring hope to the darkest places. Marie Colvin, an American journalist covering the violence in Homs, told Avaaz before she died, “I’m not leaving these people.” And neither will we.
With hope, and admiration for the Syrian people and courageous citizens everywhere,
Ricken, Wissam, Stephanie, Alice, David, Antonia, Will, Sam, Emma, Wen-Hua, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team
P.S. If you want to do more, click here to help keep our lifeline of hope into Syria open:
He mentioned in a statement that the Palestine sector prepared a memorandum explaining the sum of Israeli violations on occupied Palestinian territory as well as in the Syrian Golan and what is left of occupied Lebanese lands.
Sobeih said the importance of the memorandum lies in its circulation — after its adoption — to every state and the United Nations. The idea is for the memorandum to become the guide for Arab states in the international organisation to move and issue decisions from the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council and other organisations.
He added that the memorandum explains in detail the state of the peace process and negotiations as well as Palestine’s bid for full UN membership and Arab efforts to urge states not recognising Palestine to do so according to the June 1967 borders.
Sobeih praised the role of the Arab Peace Initiative, which shored up the Palestinian issue whether at the UN or within negotiations and the peace process.
He mentioned that the Arab League Council will discuss a draft resolution concerning occupied Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and refugees, giving support to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Arabs provide much support for UNRWA, said Sobeih, underlining the necessity to hold anyone who voted on the partition of Palestine responsible towards Palestinian refugees.
(english.ahram.org.eg / 07.03.2012)
The week began – Sunday 4th March – with a rally and Film Screening of “Roadmap to Apartheid” at the Red Location Museum, in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. The city’s mayor, and former metalworkers union leader, Zanoxolo Wayile and former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils were scheduled to speak at the rally.
Other well-known academics and human rights activists including Zapiro, Zackie Achmat, Breyten Breytenbach, Professor Steven Friedman, Professor Andrew Nash, and Reverend Allan Boesak will speak at a total of 42 events across the country this week.
The South African events will culminate in the launch of the song “The New Black” at 2pm on Monday 12th March at the Hector Peterson Memorial Centre in Orlando West. South African acoustic folk/jazz band The Mavrix, lead by Jeremy Karodia, have teamed up with Palestinian oud player Mohammed Omar to produce the song, which will be launched simultaneously in Soweto and Gaza via a skype video link.
Naazim Adam, coordinator of South Africa’s Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA), South African-Palestinian professor Haidar Eid and Siphiwe Thusi, South African anti-apartheid activist and the chair of the PSA’s Soweto branch, will be speaking by Skype from Soweto to Gaza.
While the Israeli government has sent out 100 public relations envoys all over the world in an attempt to counter the activities taking place, Eid says this only goes to show that the week has become a growing and successful international phenomenon which cannot be ignored.
Israel, according to the right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper, had to put its envoys – which include militarists and Israeli settlers – through “several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry” before sending them out on their mission.
“We really think that Israel has taken notice of the week; hence, their decision to send 100 delegates to cities including Cape Town and Johannesburg in an attempt to beautify its tarnished image” says Eid, a former lecturer at Vista University’s Soweto campus, member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and an activist in the One Democratic State group, based in Gaza.
The joint Soweto-Gaza event “is a very significant step forward in solidifying the growing idea we have been advocating, namely the apartheid nature of the state of Israel” says Eid.
The event has also received the support of the influential South African Council of Churches, who last week called on its members to remember Israel as “the single supporter of apartheid when the rest of the world implemented economic sanctions, boycotts and divestments to force change in South Africa”.
“Today the Palestinians cry out to the world and to God, saying: How long, O God, will they steal our livelihood? Oppress, imprison and humiliate our people? Deprive our children of their childhood? Indeed how long, God, will the multitudes of Christians of the world ignore the anguish of our Palestinian sisters and brothers and all of the oppressed?” SACC general secretary, Reverend Mautji Pataki and its president, Dr Jo Seoka said.
Calling on churchgoers across the country to “repent of the ignorance and oblivion” they had shown towards Palestinians, Pataki and Seoka said their organization had come to the conclusion that Israel “continues to share a similarity with the old South Africa in implementing apartheid where all non-Jews of Palestine are discriminated against, displaced of their land and homes, and subjected to refugee camps and a permanent state of violent military rule”.
The week has not gone off without a hitch internationally. The University of Paris, France last week cancelled an Israeli Apartheid Week conference after pressure from the Israeli lobby, but officially citing the potential of public disturbances after “strong reactions” to the conference’s theme.
But the sheer diversity of the speakers at this week’s events in South Africa, and the breadth of the events themselves, which include art exhibitions and mass balloon releases in Pretoria, show that the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa has firmly taken root – in South Africa at least. Events are even being held in “dorpies” like Pietermaritzburg, and the University of Stellenbosch, where a simulated Israeli military checkpoint will be set up at the main entrance of the faculty of Theology.
The growing list of academics, many of whom ten years ago were silent on Palestine but who are now willing to speak out, is at the very least a sign that freedom for the Palestinians is not the taboo subject it used to be.
*Majavu is a writer concentrating on the rights of workers, oppressed people, the environment, anti-militarism and what makes a better world.
(www.afrika.no / 07.03.2012)
We are called bigots when we identify those committing atrocities. But when they wipe off whole families…they are called angels!
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The EU contributed 22.5 million euros ($29.57 million) to PA government salaries and pensions in the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, a press statement said.
In its third contribution of the year, the sums will fund payments for 84,000 civil servants and pensioners, the release said.
EU Representative John Gatt-Rutter called on other donors to provide funds to the PA “in a timely and reliable manner,” noting that a meeting of donors later in March would discuss the “severe economic challenges the PA is facing.”
(www.maannews.net / 07.03.2012)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The World Bank has approved a $40 million grant to support Palestinian Authority reforms and improve citizen services, officials said Wednesday.
The grant is part of the World Bank’s efforts to “consolidate and build on a good track-record of reform achievements,” a statement announcing the grant said.
“There has been a real commitment to reform which has indeed delivered some improvements in the daily lives of citizens,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank director for the West Bank and Gaza.
“But reform alone will not drive the growth that is needed. For that to happen the private sector has to be unleashed and measures must be taken to build confidence and remove restrictions which stand in the way of a free flow of commercial activity.”
The World Bank also approved an $8 million grant to rehabilitate Gaza’s electricity network.
(www.maannews.net / 07.03.2012)
Several members of the United States Congress showed their support for the State of Israel on Tuesday.
In meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, political leaders on both sides of the aisle said they stand with the Jewish state in the Iranian crisis.
“The United States Congress will always stand by Israel, and the United States Congress will never allow Israel to stand alone,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said.
“The looming threat of a nuclear Iran cannot be ignored. Ambiguity could lead to serious miscalculations, which is what we collectively hope to avoid,” he said.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is important for Israel, the U.S., and the world.
“So this is about Israel, our relationship with them, our support for their security, preserving and strengthening the qualitative military edge,” Pelosi said.
Netanyahu also met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
Lawmakers want to step up the economic pressure on all Iranian banks to further squeeze the Islamic Republic’s economy to convince the regime to abandon its nuclear program.
During his remarks Monday evening at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference, Netanyahu praised Congress, noting that more than half the members of Congress were in the audience.
“Democrats and Republicans alike, I salute your unwavering support for the Jewish people,” the prime minister said, before asking delegates “to stand up and applaud the representatives of the United States.”
(www.cbn.com / 07.03.2012)
Mogen vrouwen met hoofddoek klanten bedienen in een winkel? En hoe moeten winkeliers omgaan met discriminerende klanten? Zelfstandigenorganisatie Unizo pleit voor een wettelijk kader. Dat schrijven Gazet van Antwerpen en Het Belang van Limburg.
De discussie over het hoofddoekendebat in openbare besturen is geluwd. Maar die over of het toegelaten is om met een hoofddoek in een winkel te staan, woedt sinds gisteren heviger dan ooit.
Aanleiding hiervoor is dat het Centrum voor Gelijkheid van Kansen en voor Racismebestrijding (CGKR) winkelketen Hema dagvaardt omdat die een werkneemster in de Genkse vestiging ontsloeg na klachten van klanten over haar hoofddoek.
De ‘hoofddoekenkwestie’ bij Hema is volgens CGKR-directeur Jozef De Witte geen alleenstaand geval. “Steeds vaker gebruiken commerciële bedrijven het argument ‘neutraliteit’ om een hoofddoek te verbieden.
Bedankt voor uw stem!
Zelfstandigenorganisatie Unizo vindt dat er dringend meer duidelijkheid moet komen.
“Het is aan de werkgever en de werknemer om binnen een wettelijk kader uit te maken of religieuze symbolen toegelaten zijn op de werkvloer”, zegt Bjorn Cuyt van Unizo. “De vrijheid van godsdienst moet het uitgangspunt blijven, maar dat mag in geen geval het werk hinderen.”
(www.gva.be / 07.03.2012)