Tag Archives: United States

[Press Release] BMP demands abrogation of VFA:‘Our people are paying the price of our elitist government’s mendicant foreign policy’

Workers group demands abrogation of VFA:‘Our people are paying the price of our elitist government’s mendicant foreign policy’
THE Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jennifer Laude, and joins the Filipino people in demanding justice for her murder.


The brutal killing of Ms Laude, a 26-year old woman whose head was found shoved right into a toilet bowl, is tragic in itself.

An apparent hate crime, her murder is not just an affront to the LGBT community who have long been exposed and subjected to sexist and patriarchal violence. It is an affront to us all, LGBT or not.

Making Ms Laude’s death even more tragic, however, is that her alleged murderer, a certain Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton of the US Marines, is beyond the reach of our own justice system.

Thanks to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) entered into by our government with the United States, Mr Pemberton could not be treated like any ordinary murder suspect: Under the relevant provision in the VFA, US military personnel accused of committing crimes in Philippine territory shall be held by US—not Filipino—authorities.

Our own government may request the United States to waive the application of this provision but final decision resides with the United States.

In effect, power over those who kill our people rests not with our own government but with the United States.

This is the price our elitist government has decided to pay in exchange for the supposed security that comes with hosting US troops in the country, for the equipment that the US provides as military aid, and for all the supposed benefits that we derive from our relationship with the US: benefits that our government should never have had to acquire from any external power in the first place.

The elites who run our government could have rejected the VFA but they couldn’t or they chose not to because, failing to guarantee real security to our own people, they could only run to and grovel before the United States for protection.

So now our people—people like Jennifer and, before her, Nicole—are paying the price for our own elites’ dependency on the United States. They are paying the price for our servile and obsequious foreign policy.

To ensure justice for Ms Laude—and to prevent this tragedy from being repeated—we therefore could not just call for a thorough investigation and an impartial trial, as if this were just any other murder case, as if this were just another hate crime.

We must also demand that Pfc Pemberton not be given any special treatment and that he not be exempted from the normal processes accorded to murder suspects.

We must also call for the immediate abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the immediate cancellation of all US military deployments to the country.

Only then can we ensure justice for Ms Laude and only then can we prevent this tragedy from being repeated.#

October 15, 2014
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)

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[Press Release] Workers in Region 8 demand employment, people’s participation in Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction plan -PM

Workers in Region 8 demand employment, people’s participation in Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction plan

Declaring they won’t beg and live on relief and aid forever, several associations of workers in the informal sector in Region 8 today launched a campaign demanding employment, social protection and people’s participation as bedrocks of Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction plan to address not just the immediate but also the long term needs of Pepe and Pilar.


The campaign came days after the government announced the US$8.17-billion or P361-B plan under the so-called Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) which will be completed in four years or by 2017.

Held in Tacloban City, the campaign launch was spearheaded by tricycle and trisikad drivers and operators (TODA’s) in Tacloban, Hilongos and Baybay, in coordination with the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM).

After attending a twelve noon mass at the Sto. Nino Church, TODA members held a motorcade around Tacloban City with posters bearing the call, “Make jobs a priority in Yolanda rehab”, wrapped around their trikes. A gathering and small salu-salo followed the motorcade at the Church’s Social Hall where family members and other Yolanda survivors gathered to hear the groups’ manifesto and affirm their commitment to the collective struggle of rebuilding their lives and their communities.

In a joint Manifesto signed by the Tacloban Federation of MCF Drivers and Operators (TAFEMDO), the Hilongos-based Trisikad Operators and Drivers Organization (TODO), and Partido ng Manggagawa-Region 8, the groups explained that prior to the onslaught of Yolanda (Haiyan), they already were living poor, miserable lives since transporting people around the city through motorized and non-motorized cabs for hire was their only source of income.

The Rebolustonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM) in Leyte also signed the manifesto in solidarity with the workers.

“Because income is irregular in this nature of work, we earn less than what we need. This condition likewise explains why many of us, together with other poor people, live in urban poor communities where we face recurrent and extreme vulnerabilities from both man-made and natural calamities. In other words, we are poor, defenceless and were unprepared to face the strongest typhoon in history,” read the manifesto.

Jobs as priority

According to Judy Torres, regional coordinator of Partido ng Manggagawa, this was the main reason why they were urging the government and donor agencies to make jobs a priority in Yolanda rehabilitation and reconstruction plans.

“We want jobs because it is a guarantee to a person’s long-term security and a life of dignity,” said Torres, adding that while everybody was devastated it is the poor that suffered most.

“We want to rebuild our lives. We want to rebuild our communities. Hence, in the rehabilitation and rebuilding process, we do not want to just revert back to where we were before Yolanda. We want a new community – a better community,” added the manifesto.

Torres, who also chairs TAFEMDO, added that aside from providing employment, “the State must also provide victims of Yolanda a broad range of social protection to enable them to live a more secure life in the face of the ‘new normal’ and the worsening climate crisis.”

The workers’ groups also called on the government, both national and local, to put their act together in formulating a new type of rehabilitation and rebuilding plan, saying people at this point in time are not interested in squabbles and personal plans among politicians.

“What you owe us is immediate, climate-resilient, inclusive, and empowering rehabilitation and rebuilding program,” said the groups, stressing further that in the rebuilding process, direct participation by the people is far more important than private consultants and contractors.

International responsibility

The groups likewise urged donor countries and international aid agencies that once the relief and life-saving stage is over, “we enjoin you to help us build a new model community out of the ruins of Yolanda.”

They further stated: “While we clearly understand that it was Nature’s wrath that made our lives more miserable now, we are also aware that today’s extreme weather systems are the awful outcome of climate change caused by unrestrained economic activities of industrial countries. Thus, we believe that more than the humanitarian aspect, developed countries have the historical, moral, and social responsibility to come to our aid.”

Specific demands

The TODA groups in Tacloban have come up with specific demands addressed to concerned government agencies, international donors, as well as the Church and civic groups. These include:

§ Jobs for displaced TODA members and for unemployed Taclobanons.
§ Moratorium on payment of fees, specifically the renewal of business permits for FY 2014.
§ Financial assistance for motor/cab repairs or for acquisition of new units.
§ Fuel subsidy for registered TODA members.
§ Mandatory SSS and Philhealth coverage for TODA members through national government or local government sponsorship programs.
§ In-city relocation and climate-resilient socialized housing program for informal settlers.
§ Participation in the rehabilitation and rebuilding process.

Except for some specific items, the same set of demands will be pursued by workers associations in Hilongos and Baybay.

The groups said they are making this appeal not as mere victims of Yolanda but as Filipino citizens who are entitled to the broadest social protection possible from the State.

“Finally, we believe that everything is possible as long as everyone considers the task of rehabilitation and rebuilding a collective mission and the dream for a new community rising out of Yolanda ruins a common vision,” concluded the manifesto.

Partido ng Manggagawa
30 December 2013
Contact: Judy Torres
Partido ng Manggagawa Coordinator for Region 8
Chairperson, Tacloban Federation of MCH Drivers and Operators (TAFEMDO)
09262389963; 09482495848

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[Blog] The Indian Diplomat’s Arrest: A Barbaric and Despicable Act. By Jose Mario De Vega

The Indian Diplomat’s Arrest: A Barbaric and Despicable Act
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the report of Namrata Brar for NDTV, “Indian diplomat arrested in US for alleged visa fraud, handcuffed in public”, December 13.

Mario De Vega

The report is about a high-ranking Indian diplomat by the name of Devyani Khobragade who was arrested arbitrarily and handcuffed in an utterly humiliating manner in full view of the public in New York “for allegedly lying on the visa application for an Indian national who worked for her for less than four dollars an hour”.

It was reported that Ms Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested on the street while she was dropping her daughter to school.

She was released later when she posted a $250,000 bail for her temporary liberty.

The most despicable aspect of this case is the grim fact that besides all of those inhumane acts that she suffered, she was also subjected to a strip-searched.

The question here is: what does her “tits” got to do to the purported crime that she allegedly committed?

If I may remind those bastard freaks who maltreated and humiliated the woman diplomat, here’s the venerable words of wisdom of the late President Nelson Mandela:

“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity.”

I wholly concur with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he precisely described Ms Khobragade’s treatment as “deplorable” and to Foreign Minister Salman Khursheed when he said that it was his duty to restore the dignity of the diplomat.

As Mr. Khursheed told parliament:

“I think the most important, immediate concern is to ensure that no further indignity is inflicted upon the young officer. And we are taking steps to ensure legally whatever is possible that we implement that immediately…

“In terms of giving a strong, unambiguous, direct message to the United States of America: whatever I believe we were supposed to do, we did immediately…”

I am completely with the Indians in their rant and disgust with regard to this case. This case, in my view is a clear case of discrimination and undeniably an over-kill.

Indeed, no one can blame India, if they viewed the said horrible event as a national outrage.

The worst part of this incident or accident or issue or event is the irrefutable fact that this violation and humiliation was committed by the US to one of its loyal allies on the world stage. What a shame!

As the woman diplomat herself stated from a letter she wrote to her foreign service colleagues:

“Although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride…”

The case of the woman diplomat stems from an allegation that she had presented false documents for her house help.

The order of her arrest was directed by the Indian-born Preet Bharara who is the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

As already noted, the diplomat was arrested on the basis of the charge that she “had presented false documents for the woman who worked as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York from November to June this year.”


I condemn to the highest possible degree the undeniably barbaric act and indescribably despicable means used by the authorities in arresting the woman diplomat.

I am not against her arrest, that is if she indeed committed a grave offense or violated the law; but what I am firmly against is the unjust manner and the horrible means used by the arresting officer in effecting her arrest.

Undeniably, this is a vulgar display of unreasonable power and an utterly despicable exercise of unjust discretion!

Point two:

Do I have to remind those stupid officers that, even if the woman diplomat has a complaint against her, she is entitled to her constitutional rights to be arrested peacefully, honorably, professionally and with courtesy by virtue of her status!

Said woman is entitled to know the nature and the cause of the accusation against her.

She is entitled that her rights must be said to her in a peaceful conduct.

Point two:

Are those idiotic arresting officers aware that the woman subject of the arrest is a diplomat?

Do they know that in cases like this there is an international law that governs?

Did they put into consideration that provision of the Vienna Convention?

Article 41 of the said international law expressly provides that:

Personal inviolability of consular officers

1. Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.

2. Except in the case specified in paragraph 1 of this article, consular officers shall not be committed to prison or be liable to any other form of restriction on their personal freedom save in execution of a judicial decision of final effect.

Article 42 further states that the head of the consular unit or the sending State must be informed in advance of any arrest of an accredited diplomat.

It is sad to say and utterly horrible to state that the United States of America did not follow the protocol and the stipulations lay down by the said law.

By virtue of the fact of the status of Ms. Khobragade, is it beyond dispute that she is covered by diplomatic immunity as mandated by international law.

What is Diplomatic Immunity?

Diplomatic Immunity is “a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are exempt from prosecution under the host country’s laws.”

It was agreed “as international law in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961).”

Further, “under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) a consul is afforded a variation of diplomatic immunity called consular immunity.”

It also guarantees “immunity from the host country’s laws only with respect to acts related to consular duties.”

It was alleged by the prosecutor that the woman, by the name of Sangeeta Richard, had been exploited and made to work for “less than fair” wages.

According further to the prosecutor:

“This type of fraud on the United States and exploitation of an individual will not be tolerated…”

The NDTV further narrated that:

“Ms Khobragade, 39, who has two young daughters, is in charge of Political, Economic, Commercial and Women’s Affairs at the consulate. The charges against her carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.”

While the BBC, Devyani Khobragade: Indian MPs demand action against US, December 18, reported that:

“The US Marshals Service Office of Public Affairs confirmed on Tuesday that she had been strip-searched.

“Ms Khobragade, 39, was arrested last Thursday in New York and later freed on a $250,000 (£153,000) bond after pleading not guilty to the charges.

“Law enforcement authorities in New York say Ms Khobragade “allegedly caused a materially false and fraudulent document to be presented, and materially false and fraudulent statements to be made, to the US Department of State in support of a visa application for an Indian national employed as a babysitter and housekeeper at her home in New York”.

“If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for visa fraud and five years for making false statements.”

I find the request of India to the US to handle this case and settle this matter with “sensivity” absolutely reasonable by virtue of the fact of Ms. Khobragade’s diplomatic status.

I am also in agreement to Ms Khobragade’s lawyers that her arrest on the street, without being given a chance to explain, was “shocking and unprecedented.”

I subscribed to the anger of the people of India in denouncing and condemning this utterly deplorable and unimaginably barbaric and despicable act of the US.

I am also in concurrence with the retaliation and reprisal committed or done so far by India, such as the removal of the barricades outside the US embassy and their direct act of snubbing a visitation from a US delegation.

The US must know that they do not owned the world and that if they can act like bastards; then India and other aggrieved nations can also act equally like them!

The US must apologize for their madness and barbarity before this incident assumes a more frightful forms!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Sciences
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Statement] Human Rights Watch on the $40 million military aid

“The $40 million military aid that US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged to the Philippines is restricted to maritime security assistance and counter-terrorism training for the police in Mindanao. We note that none of it will go to the Philippine Army, a traditional recipient of US foreign military financing – and there’s a reason for that. The US Congress, the Pentagon, and the State Department each agree that the Philippines Army is implicated in abuses, past and even present, and continues to enjoy impunity since the government has not established any significant record of prosecuting human rights violations. This new military aid package reflects that consensus.”

“The Obama administration agrees that the Philippine Army should not get any major assistance. There’s a pending draft legislation in the US Congress that would restrict all major assistance to the army. Aside from that, there’s an existing hold on $3 million of annual financial military assistance to the Philippines as a result of the government’s failure to address these abuses.”

John Sifton
Asia Advocacy Director
Human Rights Watch


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[From the web] Sex, intimacy and the RH law in the time of Yolanda -RAPPLER.com

Sex, intimacy and the RH law in the time of Yolanda
By Ana P. Santos, RAPPLER.com
December 17, 2013

This is Yolanda in numbers: 4 million people displaced, 102,000 people living in evacuation centers or makeshift homes, an estimated 1.1 million homes totally or partially destroyed.


Damage to health care facilities (which includes birthing facilities and hospitals) was estimated to be 50%, in some areas 90%. This means that healthcare facilities were partially or totally destroyed in many of the typhoon affected areas which – even before Yolanda – were among the poorest provinces in the country.

Now, here’s the reality behind those numbers.

With many health facilities totally destroyed and ambulances washed away, it is the worst circumstance to deliver a baby. With many farming crops and fishing boats washed away and coconut trees torn from their roots, there are not many livelihood opportunities, it is the most undesirable time to get pregnant.

Whichever way you look at it, post Yolanda is not the best time to have a baby and or get pregnant.

Read full article @www.rappler.com

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[Blog] Comrade Tata Madiba: A Tribute. By Jose Mario De Vega

Comrade Tata Madiba: A Tribute
By Jose Mario De Vega

Now that the Great One has died so many so-called “world leaders” has come out to offer their prayers and solidarity to this great man, to his family and to his people; yet my question is: where the hell are all these people when Mandela is languishing in jail for 27 years?

Mario De Vega

In the scathing words of Peter Beinart, “Don’t Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He’s Honored Now, But Was Hated Then”, The Daily Beast, December 5:

“If we turn the late South African leader into a nonthreatening moral icon, we’ll forget a key lesson from his life: America isn’t always a force for freedom.

“Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

“In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail. In 2004, after Mandela criticized the Iraq War, an article in the National Review said his “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise, given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.” As late as 2008, the ANC remained on America’s terrorism watch list, thus requiring the 89-year-old Mandela to receive a special waiver from the secretary of State to visit the U.S.”

Such a bloody hypocrisy of this so-called “land of the brave and the free”

The true Mandela is… “like Martin Luther King, who publicly repudiated Lyndon Johnson’s claim that Vietnam was a war for democracy, Mandela rejected George W. Bush’s idealistic rationalizations of the Iraq War. In 2003, when Bush was promising to liberate Iraq’s people, Mandela said, “All that he wants is Iraqi oil.” When Bush declared Iraq’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons a threat to the planet, Mandela had the bad manners to remind Bush that the only country to have actually used nukes was the United States. Mandela’s message to America’s leaders, born from firsthand experience, was clear: Don’t pretend you are pure.

“As with King, it is this subversive aspect of Mandela’s legacy that is most in danger of being erased as he enters America’s pantheon of sanitized moral icons. But it is precisely the aspect that Americans most badly need. American power and human freedom are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they do not. Walking in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps requires being able to tell the difference.”

It is on the same line of reasoning that I also concur with the sharp and direct commentator of Okwonga.com (“Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel”, December 6th) in his categorical and obnoxious remark that:

“Dear revisionists, Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view. Right now, you are anxiously pacing the corridors of your condos and country estates, looking for the right words, the right tributes, the right-wing tributes. You will say that Mandela was not about race. You will say that Mandela was not about politics. You will say that Mandela was about nothing but one love, you will try to reduce him to a lilting reggae tune. “Let’s get together, and feel alright.” Yes, you will do that.”

For the benefit of all, the true and the false ones, the pure and the impure, the noble and the ignoble, the genuine and the bastards, the revolutionaries and the reactionaries, the activists and the good for nothing, the strong and the weak, the legitimate and the pretenders, the radicals and the conservatives, etc. let us call a spade and spade and let us be objective, no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient it is!

Let us give this great man the due recognition and the justice that he justly deserve!

Hence, now let us talk about some serious and in my view, central core principles and beliefs that Madiba believed in which unfortunately most ‘people’, especially from the ‘West’ won’t talk about or perhaps, now that he is safely dead and gone; they may talk about it, but they will try to satinize or cleanse the old man to the absurd point of canonizing him, which at the same time in an ironical sense is downgrading and/or minimizing his “terrorism”, “communism”, “violence” and “radicalism”.

This is a shame!

Madiba is Madiba and there is no kind of propaganda and/or ‘rehabilitation’ that will succeed in changing him for what he is truly was! No amount of disinformation and lies will prosper to hijack his true legacy and the meaning of his life!

On June 26, 1961, he’s what Madiba stated in an official press statement:

“I am informed that a warrant for my arrest has been issued, and that the police are looking for me. The National Action Council has given full and serious consideration to this question, and has sought the advice of many trusted friends and bodies and they have advised me not to surrender myself. I have accepted this advice, and will not give myself up to a government I do not recognise. Any serious politician will realise that under present-day conditions in this country, to seek for cheap martyrdom by handing myself to the police is naive and criminal. We have an important programme before us and it is important to carry it out very seriously and without delay.

“I have chosen this latter course, which is more difficult and which entails more risk and hardship than sitting in gaol. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters, to live as an outlaw in my own land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty and misery, as many of my people are doing. I will continue to act as the spokesman of the National Action Council during the phase that is unfolding and in the tough struggles that lie ahead. I shall fight the government side by side with you, inch by inch, and mile by mile, until victory is won. What are you going to do? Will you come along with us, or are you going to co-operate with the government in its efforts to suppress the claims and aspirations of your own people? Or are you going to remain silent and neutral in a matter of life and death to my people, to our people? For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days.”

In 1964, these are the fighting words that he spoke in a South African courtroom:

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

He and his comrades are on trial “for plotting to overthrow the country’s all-white apartheid government.” As we all know, Mandela received a life sentence and he is imprisoned for nearly next three decades. While in jail, he “became a worldwide symbol in the fight to end the apartheid subjugating South Africa’s black majority.”

He fought for justice, for equality, for racial harmony and for the dignity and humanity of each human being regardless of their race, culture, station in life and nationality.

Now, he is dead, but it is my firm belief that all his beliefs and principles wherein he dedicated his life-long struggle will never ever die, because in truth and in fact, he is the last pure hero of his era!

Aviva Shen and Judd Legum’s “Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About”, Think Progress, December 6th listed the following positions undertaken consistently by Mandela through the years:

“1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. Mandela called Bush “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said. Mandela even speculated that then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan was being undermined in the process because he was black. “They never did that when secretary-generals were white,” he said. He saw the Iraq War as a greater problem of American imperialism around the world. “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care,” he said.

“2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.” Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

“3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists without due process. On the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 himself, Mandela was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s war on terror. He warned against rushing to label terrorists without due process. While forcefully calling for Osama bin Laden to be brought to justice, Mandela remarked, “The labeling of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist responsible for those acts before he had been tried and convicted could also be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law.”

“4. Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.” He reminded a larger crowd at Yankee Stadium that racism was not exclusively a South African phenomenon. “As we enter the last decade of the 20th century, it is intolerable, unacceptable, that the cancer of racism is still eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet,” he said. “All of us, black and white, should spare no effort in our struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”

“5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies. Mandela incited shock and anger in many American communities for refusing to denounce Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had lent their support to Mandela against South African apartheid. “One of the mistakes the Western world makes is to think that their enemies should be our enemies,” he explained to an American TV audience. “We have our own struggle.” He added that those leaders “are placing resources at our disposal to win the struggle.” He also called the controversial Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “a comrade in arms.”

“6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions. Mandela visited the Detroit auto workers union when touring the U.S., immediately claiming kinship with them. “Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here,” he said. “The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood.””

To reiterate, here’s his take on the following world issues:

On US Imperialism

“If you look at those matters [Iraq], you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”

On Israel’s War Criminal Actions

“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank,”

On Cuba

“From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution….Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”

On Gaddafi

“It is our duty to give support to the brother leader [Gaddafi]…especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters,”

On the Palestinians

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

He is a close friend and supporter of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

Hence, to all those pretenders, liars and hypocrites of all types and kinds; don’t ever dare to change or repackage or rehabilitate or transform or re-label our Madiba for something he is not.
He will always be a revolutionary, an outlaw, a “terrorist”, a radical, a liberator and one of the greatest icons and voices of Mankind for all Humanity!

As he himself stated:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”




Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Event] launching of the Philippine Parallel Report for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

To our esteemed colleagues, supporters and co-advocates ~

We are pleased to invite you to the launching of the Philippine Parallel Report for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

*December 3, 2013*
*9am -12 noon*
*Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) Club, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.*

UN logo small

Pls confirm attendance by Friday, November 29.
For details, see attached files. The ReportAt a glance

For accessible format, see below

Philippine Coalition on the UNCRPD

*Philippine Coalition on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities *Alyansa ng may Kapansanang Pinoy *Autism Society Philippines *CALL Foundation of the Blind*Deafblind Support Philippines* Government Union for the Integration of Differently-Abled Employees * Katipunan ng mga Maykapansanan sa Pilipinas * Las Pinas Persons with Disability Federation * Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines * Life Haven *National Organization for Visually Impaired Empowered Ladies*New Vois Association * Nova Foundation* Parents Association of Visually impaired Children * Philippine Alliance for Persons with Chronic Illness* Philippine Association for Children With Developmental and Learning
Disabilities * Philippine Chamber for Massage Industry for Visually Impaired* Philippine Deaf Resource Center * Philippine Federation of the Deaf *Punlaka *Quezon City Federation of Persons With Disabilities *Tahanang Walang Hagdanan *Women with Disabilities Leap To Social and Economic Progress*



Please RSVP on or before 29 November
*lifehaven@gmail.com <lifehaven@gmail.com>**, or* tel. 355-3572 c/o Mary Ann Dau

  • Name
  • Organization
  • Contact information
  • Will you be attending with a personal assistant?

*Venue directions:
Enter Camp Aguinaldo from Boni Serrano. From Gate 1, turn left at the first corner. After the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office is the NDRRMC bldg. Behind it is the AGFO Club.

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[Press Release] Filipino climate justice activists join mass walk-out at UN climate change talks -PMCJ

‘A big blow to Yolanda victims and survivors’
Filipino climate justice activists join mass walk-out at UN climate change talks
November 22, 2013

Mass walk-out at UN climate change talks. Photo extracted from Herbert Docena FB

Mass walk-out at UN climate change talks. Photo extracted from Herbert Docena FB

WARSAW (Nov 21): Members of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice has joined a mass walk-
out at UN Climate Change conference in Warsaw, Poland “to protest against the failure of the
talks to deliver climate justice.”


Hundreds of representatives of civil society organisations and social movements around the world
streamed out of the National Stadium here on the penultimate day of the two-week long round of

“Everyone here was saying they sympathise with Filipinos affected by typhoon Yolanda, and yet
some parties—specifically the rich, developed countries and dirty industries—are refusing to
increase their ambition on emissions cuts and refusing to provide compensation for those of us
affected by climate change,” Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of PMCJ said.

“This is a slap in the face of people who are already suffering from climate change,” said

“On the one hand they’re giving us humanitarian aid for Typhoon Yolanda, on the other hand
they’re ratcheting up emissions and refusing to hand over new, adequate and predictable funding
for the loss and damages caused by their historic emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Val Vibal,
Spokesperson of Aniban ng Managgagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA) and a Coordinating Committee members
of PMCJ.

“Their one hand is reaching out to us and giving us relief goods; their other hand is effectively
pushing us into the path of more and stronger typhoons,” Arances said.

“As the Philippines’ climate change commissioner Naderev Sano said, ‘This climate crisis is
madness.’ And yet, they’re refusing to stop this madness.”

The walk-out followed an earlier walk-out by developing countries from a negotiating session
after developed countries continued to block the establishment of an international mechanism for
providing funds to poorer countries bearing “loss and damages” from climate change

Filipinos led by PMCJ here in the Philippines launched several activities, including fasting
across the country and actions in front of embassies of the US, Canada and Australia, to press
for adequate climate actions by the developed countries to avert catastrophic climate change.

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[Petition] The Medical City: Please give back by setting up one mobile hospital in any of the provinces hit by super Typhoon Yolanda -change.org

Pinepetisyon si Administrator
The Medical City: Please give back by setting up one mobile hospital in any of the provinces hit by super Typhoon Yolanda

Petisyon ni Pia Maria Magalona
Antipolo City, Philippines

Many survivors of super typhoon Yolanda are in need of immediate medical care but they have nowhere to go. Almost all hospitals and health centers in the provinces hit by the super typhoon are no longer functional, some of them were even flattened. Local medical and health professionals and medicines are even more scarce than food and water.


The Department of Health has set up its own medical tents, but their resources and people are too scarce and scattered; they can barely keep up with this massive scale of devastation Yolanda left on our people.

We are calling on The Medical City to set up at least one mobile hospital to any of the super typhoon-hit provinces. And we ask that these hospitals keep these facilities ready for deployment every time disasters strike the country. This is the perfect time for one of the top 5 hospitals in the Philippines to GIVE BACK to society in terms of resources and expertise.

For every day that survivors are not given medical attention, they are becoming more and more vulnerable and at risk of death. And this human catastrophe may become bigger than what we’re seeing in the news.

A mobile hospital in each province can help thousands of survivors who are in need of emergency care or surgery. Instead of patients being airlifted to Manila, why not just bring the hospitals to them? Hundreds of lives may be saved and it could help preempt an outbreak of diseases and infections.

Sign petition @www.change.org

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[Statement] Save Lives, Redistribute Food, Stop the Economic and Environment Plunder! Climate Justice Now! -PLM

PLM Statement on the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda Crisis

Let Our People Live!
Save Lives, Redistribute Food, Stop the Economic and Environment Plunder!
Climate Justice Now!

The people are still reeling from the impact of possibly the biggest typhoon to strike the country. Death toll numbers are rising rapidly. There is massive devastation. Many are still trying to contact their relatives, friends and comrades, but communication systems are down, in the hardest hit areas. How should we, as activists and socialists, respond to the crisis?


Firstly, we have to support and take whatever measures are necessary to protect the people. This means all measures that bring the people immediate relief. In the hardest hit city of Tacloban, in south eastern Visayas, the people are already taking what food and relief supplies that they need from the malls. The media reports this as looting and the break-down of law and order.

But we say: let our people live. This is not “looting”. People are taking food, where they can get it, in order to survive. If there is no timely and organized support system from government, people just have to do it themselves and they should organize themselves to do it more effectively. Even some grocery owners understand the need for this. According to one report of a man who broke into a grocery store, “The owner said we can take the food, but not the dried goods. Our situation is so dismal. We have deaths in our family. We need to save our lives. Even money has no use here now”. Where possible, PLM will assist them to organize to take over food supplies and necessary relief goods.

Then there’s the issue of the government response. Our experience has been that it has always been too slow and inadequate. Any efforts are undermined by corruption. The exposure of the organized plunder by the political elite and sections of government, of development funds or “pork barrel” funds meant for the people, is a testimony to this. This outraged the country and brought almost half-a-million people out in to the streets in a massive show of protest on August 26 this year. While one plunderer has been arrested, the President has not responded decisively to clean up the system.

The public funds plundered by the elite should have been used for preventative measures to support the people weather these disasters: for infrastructure, including better sea walls and communication infrastructure; for early warning systems; for well-constructed and therefore safe public housing, to replace huts and shacks built out of dried leaves and cardboard; for health and education; for equipment and personnel for rapid emergency response, and the list is endless. But no, this was not the case, it was eaten up by the greed of the elite classes.

Unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that the government and the system will deliver and meet the needs of the people, this time round either. The self-interest of the elite, and their control of the government and the system that is designed to perpetuate their interests, through the plunder of the people’s assets and resources, renders the entire set-up inutile in the face of a disaster on this scale.

Then there are our international ‘allies’, such as the United States government, who have sent us their best wishes. But these so-called ‘allies’ are also responsible for the situation faced by our people. These typhoons are part of the climate crisis phenomenon faced by the world today. Super Typhoon Haiyan (referred to as Yolanda in the Philippines) was one of the most intense tropical cyclones at landfall on record when it struck the Philippines on Nov. 7. Its maximum sustained winds at landfall were pegged at 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph. Some meteorologists even proclaimed it to be the strongest tropical cyclone at landfall in recorded history. Haiyan’s strength and the duration of its Category 5 intensity — the storm remained at peak Category 5 intensity for an incredible 48 straight hours.

The still-increasing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis are disproportionately emitted by the rich and developed countries, from the US, Europe to Australia. For centuries, these rich, developed countries have polluted and plundered our societies, emitting too much greenhouse gases to satisfy their greed for profit. They have built countless destructive projects all over the world like polluting factories, coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants and mega dams. They have also pushed for policies allowing extractive industries to practice wasteful and irresponsible extraction of the Earth’s minerals. They continue to wage environmentally destructive wars and equip war industries, for corporate profits. All of this has fast-tracked the devastation of the Earth’s ecological system and brought about unprecedented changes in the planet’s climate.

But these are the same rich countries whose political elite are ignoring climate change and the climate crisis. Australia has recently elected a government that denies the very existence of climate change and has refused to send even a junior Minister to the climate conference in Warsaw, Poland. The question of climate justice – for the rich countries to bear the burden of taking the necessary measures for stopping it and to pay reparations and compensate those in poorer countries who are suffering the consequences of it – is not entertained even in a token way.

The way the rich countries demand debt payments from us, we now demand the payment of their “climate debts”, for climate justice and for them to take every necessary measure to cut back their greenhouse gas emission in the shortest time possible.

These rich ‘friends’ and so-called ‘allies’ have preached to us about our courage and resilience. But as many here have pointed out, resilience is not just taking all the blows with a smiling face. Resilience is fighting back. To be truly resilient we need to organize, to fight back and to take matters in to our own hands, from the relief efforts on the ground to national government and to challenging and putting an end to the capitalist system. This is the only way to ensure that we are truly resilient.

Makibaka, huwag matakot! Fight for our lives, don’t be afraid!

November 10, 2013.

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[People] Saving the victims of human trafficking by Fr. Shay Cullen

Saving the victims of human trafficking
by Fr. Shay Cullen

She was only 14 years old when brought from a distant town, and she was lured into a relationship with a middle-aged American and became his live-in sex partner. He called her “Chocolate”, a racist term.


In a conversation with reporters from ABC Television New York using a hidden camera, he told them how he got his 14 year-old “Chocolate” so he can “do it” anytime he wants and if she doesn’t like it he can throw her out and get another. He set up a sex bar named “Crow Bar” in Calapandayan, Subic Town, and there he had other underage girls trapped as sex slaves controlled by Lulu, the “Mamasan” (manager) and recruiter.

The trafficked young girls are given advance payments, loans, and threatened with arrest for not paying their debts so they can’t leave the sex bar. They are sold to foreigners of every nationality and sexually abused. The Preda Foundation social workers and undercover paralegal professionals investigated the Crow Bar and verified the facts that there were underage children there and called in the authorities to arrest him and the Mamasan. With the NBI and the US ICE agents, a raid was carried out to rescue the children and arrest the suspects. The video report is on http://www.preda.org video gallery named “The Raid”.

Many more trafficked children and youth could be saved from sex slavery and more bars closed if the Philippine government was serious in stopping the trafficking of the young girls and close down the sex trade by canceling operating permits and licenses given to these foreigner sex bar operators. Huge bribes are allegedly paid to get an operating permit.

It’s the worst kind of living death to be a victim of sex slavery. Now cyber-sex is expanding. Small rooms with internet connections and cameras can show small children forced to strip naked and act out sexual fantasies ordered over the internet by pedophiles and paid for by credit cards.

A recent research project in the Netherlands showed a computer generated image of a 10 year-old Filipina child available for contact in an internet chat room. As many as 10,000 men from 65 countries tried to get her to perform sex on camera that they could watch. Full report on http://www.preda.org, courtesy of Jubilee Campaign UK.

These images of naked children on the internet chat rooms arouse their sexual desires to abuse real children in their own countries. It’s a warm up for sexual assault on children even their own children. As a result, incest is spreading too. Preda social workers rescued a 3 year-old girl raped and infected with gonorrhea by a relative.

The local and international pedophile demand of cyber sex shows it is a grave danger to children in the Philippines and everywhere. The pedophiles pleasure themselves while watching before going child hunting. When the Preda child protection and rescue team applied for funding to church and government agencies it was met with silence or excuses. No funding for that. The rescue and campaign work is funded by the sale of dried mangos. We thank our Preda fair trade partners and supporters.

In the Philippines, the internet service providers and government regulating agencies are supposed to implement the law blocking such images but they have spectacularly failed to implement the law. It’s corruption of the worst kind. It’s likely most of these officials go to church every Sunday posing as pious parishioners.

It’s an evil that caters to the depraved men and plagues societies everywhere. The trafficking and sale of children for sexual exploitation and slavery is a worldwide crime and practice. It’s an estimated $32 billion business every year. 2.3 million children are abducted, lured and forced into brothels, sex bars and cyber-sex dens and child porn studios annually.

It’s rampant in the Philippines due to the widespread poverty, corrupt practices by police and prosecution. Many Philippine government officials are mired in corruption and no interest to help except set up well paid committees with huge budgets staffed by cronies. The President who has positive successes is honest but appears helpless against such entrenched apathy.

This modern slave-trade will go on indefinitely unless we can persuade government to have good moral governance, respect and protect children and women’s rights and dignity and the Mayors are not giving permits and licenses to sex bars and clubs .The citizens of the sending countries must know that these sex tourists get in an addiction to underage sex and return to their country addicted and will abuse more children there. It’s not a problem far away but right in every country in the world. Email shaycullen@preda.org, Mail to P.O. box 68 Olongapo city 2200, Philippines.

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[Blog] In Defense of Dissent By Jose Mario De Vega

In Defense of Dissent
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the news report, “Palace to hackers: No illegal acts needed to show discontent”, Sun Star, November 4th.

According to the so-called Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “there is no need to resort to illegal acts to express discontent in the way government handles current issues…”

Mario De Vega

The so-called Secretary issued the said message to the Anonymous Philippines, “a group of hackers that defaced 38 government websites over the weekend.”

The list of government sites which were intruded and hacked includes the website of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Mr. Coloma further stated in a media briefing that:

“There are sufficient avenues for free expression so there’s no need to resort to illegal acts…”


To that so-called secretary who said that there is no need to resort to illegal acts to express discontent in a way the government handles current issues, the question there is: what exactly, in the first place is the very reason why this hacktivists group had resorted to this kind of protestation?

What led these online activists to do the things that they’ve done?

What are they protesting and what are they condemning?

Mr. Coloma also said that “proper actions will be taken against the hackers.”

The question is: what action are you going to take to all those creatures who are involved with the pork barrel whether they are your allies and enemies; friends and nemesis?

How about the body of Jonas Burgos? What action does the bloody government are undertaking to put into the bar of justice those bastard satanic murderers who kidnapped, tortured and killed this humble peasant activist?

What action does the government is doing to locate even his remains (if there are still remains)?

Mr. so-called secretary, could you please answer that directly for purposes of the records?

To quote the words of Professor Randy David, “The President’s speech”, Public Lives, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 2nd:

“Good governance is not all about preventing and punishing the theft of public funds. It is about putting effective systems of accountability in place so that the bad apples in government are spotted before they can hide behind the admirable record of others. It is also about setting new and higher standards of competence in public service and not being content with tweaking the old system. It is about applying stricter ethics, and demanding more from one’s own team, before one says anything about the shortcomings of the other party. It is about ending patronage and realizing the full promise of democracy.”

Second point: up to now, the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) is still a Bill (is there a chance that this will become a law?), hence, what other avenues or means can these activists express their discontent and disgust with the government?

May I remind that so-called secretary that his boss during the campaign promised that this utterly necessary proposed law would be a priority, yet after winning the election, what the hell happened to the promise?

Are promised meant to be broken?

Let me state also that his boss always reiterate and says that his boss is the Filipino people, hence — WE ARE YOUR BOSS!

The whole world knows that the ultimate reason that triggers this whole issue is the gory and nefarious issue of DAP and PDAF: in one word, the bloody Pork Barrel!

A couple of days ago, the President himself spoke in a televised address to the nation to give his take on the whole matter.

The problem is: instead of clarifying the issue, he further muddles and confused the public. Indeed, he wasted a golden political opportunity to assert the ethical dimension of his regime, if ever he is sincere, if ever there is one and the moral crusade of his government, if ever that is true!

Consider the brilliant and straight to the point critical analysis of Ramon Casiple, “A Waste of Political Capital”, Yahoo News! Philippines, October 31st:

“What he did was to essentially defend pork barrel, including his discretionary funds, and to point to the grave abuse by legislators conniving with Napoles as the real issue. It was a pitiful performance, reminiscent of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “I am sorry” admission during prime time. This time the cry was “We are not thieves.”

“In this respect, the speech was unnecessary insofar as the President is concerned. The surveys showed him as retaining his personal popularity among the people, their trust (nearly 7 out 10 Filipinos), and their satisfaction on his performance so far. What happened was his blanket defense of all his men and women, who at one time or another during the past three months were linked to the pork barrel scam.

“The worst thing that happened was that the many issues raised in the aftermath of the Napoles case were not addressed by the speech but rather firmly put by the president out of the loop.

“Questions such as: Were his own secretaries and allies in Congress involved with Napoles?

“Why did the Commission on Audit (COA) only covered the period of 2007 to 2009? Why did the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) include adding more pork barrel funds to the PDAF of the legislators?

“Is the pork barrel really abolished or was it creatively transformed and hidden in the 2014 budget?

“Why is the Department of Justice (DOJ) filtering the information first before submitting it to the Ombudsman, thereby duplicating the work of the latter?

“What is the role of the inter-agency committee created by the President and composed of the DOJ and two independent constitutional bodies, the COA, and the Office of the Ombudsman?

“What is the President’s stand on the pork barrel system? What are the lessons to be learned from the Napoles case and establishment of the pork barrel system?”

Now, base on the foregoing, may I ask categorically that so-called secretary, can you blame our people if they are angry?

Can you blame the Anonymous Philippines in doing the things that they had done?

Mr. Coloma, do read the writings on the Walls and that is the truth:

We have been deprived of things which they have promised to give; what our late heroes have promised us to give.

Let us remind the government that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words. They are perspectives.

A march is happening, a revolution. A way to speak, a way to be heard.

On the fifth day of November, 2013, we will try to be a part of the history.

But of course there are those who do not want us to speak, and those who have doubts.

You can sleep, sit, go on with your everyday routine just like a herd of sheep and watch as the government laugh at you.

But if you see what we see, if you feel as we feel, and if you would seek as we seek… then we ask you to stand beside us, this fifth of November outside Batasang Pambansa and let us march our way to freedom – a freedom from the shackles of the Government.

You have been called; and by watching, you have been chosen.

To the “incorrupt” officials of the government, we are challenging you!

Join us!

The Corrupt – Fear us.

The Honest – Support us.

The Heroic – Join us.

We are Anonymous.

We are ONE.

The government, you are NONE.

We are legion.

On the 5th of November, Government – Hear and understand us, or EXPECT US!

You promised to take “proper action” against us; then be put on notice that we also promise to take proper and necessary action against you.


Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Blog] Visa Rejection: Questions to the Canadian Government By Jose Mario De Vega

Visa Rejection: Questions to the Canadian Government
By Jose Mario De Vega

I am writing with regard to the exchange of messages between Faizi and Nele concerning the fact that our Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Alliance “has taken knowledge of at least two visa rejections by Canadian embassies”. This is a serious matter that demands our attention.

Mario De Vega

Worst, the people whole visa were rejected are confirmed delegates that are accredited to the CBD meetings.

Indeed, “this is not only unfair for the persons involved, this is also against the principles of the Convention, as the participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society in general is crucial to CBD decision making.”

Said Convention is an “Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Concerning the Headquarters of the Convention Secretariat (E101442 – CTS 1996 No. 28)”.

The agreement was signed by Robert Fowles for the Government of Canada and Elizabeth Dowdesswell for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on October 25, 1996.

I would like to add and deeply stress that, the act of Canada in rejecting the visa application of this people is not only unjust, but undeniably absurd and utterly preposterous!

The Canadian government specifically violated Article 8 (1) and (2) which specifically and expressly provided that:

Access to the Premises of the Secretariat

The competent Canadian authorities shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the Premises of the Secretariat of representatives of Parties to the Convention, observers, experts on missions, or other persons invited by the Secretariat thereto on official business.

Visas, where required, for persons referred to in paragraph 1, shall be issued by the Government free of charge and as promptly as possible.

I am wondering what is the ground or the reason behind the rejection of the visa application! It is clear that those delegates were confirmed and checked by CBD, hence what more evidence does the Canadian government need?

The status and background of those individuals are beyond dispute and their business in Canada is clearly spelt out, hence again what are the reasons or the ground relied upon by the authorities in deciding for their visa rejection?

Indeed, CBD state parties are “committed under the CBD to promote the participation of indigenous and local communities, who live as directly dependent on customary use of biodiversity and its regeneration, not having much private monetary resources.”

I share Ville-Veikko’s view that:

“When indigenous representatives would participate to contribute to wider application of their knowledge, innovations and practices of their customary sustainable use of biodiversity, they are required first to prove such private monetary income or property, which fulfills the standards of modern over-consuming life – even if their participation would have been covered by supporting organisations and recommended by the CBD.

“As the participation of indigenous and local communities is crucial for the CBD process, commitments or meetings like WG8J, it is necessary that the costs of their participation can be covered by other facilitating instances or organisations – including CBD Alliance.

“If this is not respected, then:

“How would international community promote wider application of the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous communities’ sustainable life if it controls such communities’ international access and sharing by such procedures, standards, requirements or privileges of the mainstream, which remain alien to indigenous cultures and discriminate against their less over-consuming sustainable life?”

Our CBD coordinator, Ms. Nele Marien is totally in point when she pointed out that:

“Excluding certain groups from assisting to the meetings, especially those directly involved, would render the CBD less democratic.

“Therefore, the CBD Alliance wishes to formally raise this issue.”

As the CBD Chairperson Faizi said:

“This is indeed a serious issue and a glaring violation of the host country agreement to provide access (i.e. visa) to all bona fide participants. This issue was also raised in the final INC CBD meeting where Kenya, Spain and Canada were competing for the CBD Headquarter, when many of us argued in favour of Kenya for easy access (visa) and low expense, but Canada had its way…argued that visas would be unfaling in coming for bona fide participants.”

Undeniably, Canada has violated the said agreement which has been agreed upon by all relevant parties in good faith.

Second, they also breached the promise that they made: visa would be given to those who are bona fide participants.

Faizi continued that said convention was “legally agreed in the host country agreement (between the government of Canada and the United Nations). I had sent a copy of the agreement to this list some 4-5 years ago when such an issue cropped up”.

I overwhelmingly concur with the Chairperson that:

1. We should take this crucial and important issue with the President of CBD Bureau, ES, and the Canadian CBD focal point and the Canadian foreign ministry.

2. We must also register a firm protestation and strong complaint to the credentials committee of the SBSTTA, 8j meetings.

3. Needless to state, we must promptly issue a public statement to denounce this unjust and unfair act of the Canadian government.

4. Besides all of these actions, we can also bring a civil suit to the local court to demand for justice and/or apology.

Indeed, visa rejection in violation of the host country agreement is a global public issue therefore we all must strongly and firmly condemn this as one, because an unjust act committed to one of our delegate is the same as an unjust act committed to all of us!

We must all act on this in order for this kind of horrible event not to happen again in the future!

Lastly, I agreed with the sharp observation of the Chairperson that:

“This once again reinforces the argument that multilateral events should not be held in countries that a) ask bona fide delegates to prove that they will not stay in that country as illegal emigrant, b) face high security threat so that every visa applicant has to prove that h/she is not a terrorist…
“Indeed there are plenty of countries in the world that are delegate friendly, low cost and having good infrastructure.”

This is a shame to Canada and they have to do the right thing. They have to acknowledge their mistake, apologize to CBD and approve without question those visas that they unjustly and discriminately rejected!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega


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[Resources] UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez’s report focusing on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs)

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez’s report focusing on the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) 

Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez. Extracted from UN.org Photo Jean-Marc Ferré

Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez. Extracted from UN.org Photo Jean-Marc Ferré

[Source: Notes were extracted from the information communicated by the American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law’s Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) to its networks.]

The publication of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment, Juan E. Méndez (SRT) latest thematic report focusing on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) as they relate to legal standards pertaining to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The report, which will be presented during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, is intended as a contribution to the ongoing review process of the SMRs, which is being led by the UN Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDOC), and involves the active participation of many States and civil society organizations.

The report reflects on several areas that are being targeted for review and analyzes their relationship with the international prohibition of torture and ill-treatment by identifying procedural standards and safeguards that States are obliged to implement in this respect. It is the SRT’s hope that the report will contribute meaningfully to the progressive development of the SMRs and help expand their implementation as related to the prevention of torture and ill-treatment worldwide.

The full report is available on the ATI website (www.antitorture.org/sm) where you will also be able to monitor the progress of the report and its presentation to the General Assembly, read the latest news related to the report and the ongoing SMR review process, and accesses other relevant information. The SRT and the ATI would also like to encourage you to share your comments and reactions to the report with us, as well as the different ways in which you and/or your organization have incorporated the SMRs in your human rights and anti-torture work.

Follow the ATI on Twitter and Facebook.

Click SMR_Report_August_2013 to see the PDF copy of the report

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[Press Release] Thirteen Principles Against Unchecked Surveillance Launched at United Nations -EFF

Thirteen Principles Against Unchecked Surveillance Launched at United Nations
Privacy Advocates Call Upon UN Member States to End Mass Internet Spying Worldwide


Geneva – At the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, six major privacy NGOs, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), warned nations of the urgent need comply with international human rights law to protect their citizens from the dangers posed by mass digital surveillance.

The groups launched the “International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance” at a side event on privacy hosted by the governments of Austria, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The text is available in 30 languages at http://necessaryandproportionate.org.

“Governments around the world are waking up to the risks unrestrained digital surveillance pose to free societies,” EFF International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez said during the official presentation of the principles.

“Privacy is a human right and needs to be protected as fiercely as all other rights. States need to restore the application of human rights to communications surveillance.”

The document was the product of a year-long negotiation process between Privacy International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, and the Association for Progressive Communications. The document spells out how existing human
rights law applies to modern digital surveillance and gives lawmakers and observers a benchmark for measuring states’ surveillance practices against long-established human rights standards. The principles have now been endorsed by over 260 organizations from 77 countries, from Somalia to

Included in the 13 principles are tenets such as:

Necessity: State surveillance must be limited to that which is necessary to achieve a legitimate aim.

Proportionality: Communications surveillance should be regarded as a highly intrusive act and weighed against the harm that would be caused to the individual’s rights.

Transparency: States must be transparent about the use and scope of communications surveillance.

Public Oversight: States need independent oversight mechanisms.

Integrity of Communications and Systems: Because compromising security for state purposes always compromises security more generally, states must not compel ISPs or hardware and software vendors to include backdoors or other spying capabilities.

EFF and its co-signers will use the principles to advocate at national, regional and international levels for a change in how present surveillance laws are interpreted and new
laws are crafted, including urging the United States government to re-engineer its domestic surveillance program to comply with international human rights law.

The event, “How to Safeguard the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age,” featured speakers including Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights–who highlighted the recent scandals over British and US surveillance programs in her introductory remarks to the
Human Rights Council this week–and Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. Earlier this year, LaRue released a report that details the widespread use of state surveillance of communications in several countries, stating that such surveillance severely undermines a citizenry’s ability to
enjoy private lives, freely express themselves and exercise their other fundamental human rights.

“Member states of the Human Rights Council should assess their surveillance laws and bring them into compliance with the 13 benchmarks,” Rodriguez says. “We must put an end to unchecked, suspicionless, mass spying online.”

For this release:

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading organization protecting civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, we defend free speech online, fight illegal surveillance, promote the rights of digital innovators, and work to ensure that the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enhanced, rather than eroded, as our use of technology grows. EFF is a member-supported organization.

Find out more at https://www.eff.org.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Friday, September 20, 2013

Katitza Rodriguez
International Rights Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

[Blog] Putin and Obama: a comparative irony of the “dove” and the “hawk” by Jose Mario De Vega

Putin and Obama: a comparative irony of the “dove” and the “hawk”
by Jose Mario De Vega

Mario De Vega

But Russia sometimes can play a positive role in world politics, in spite of the fact that I want to stress again in internal policy our president and our prime minister are realizing not the best variant, definitely not the best variant of economic and social policy. — Aleksandr Buzgalin, Professor of Political Economic, Moscow State University

Its bedazzling that the person that was largely portrayed as the “bad guy” turns out to be the “good one” who stopped in undeniable sense the possible eruption of World War III.

How could we explain the irony of a former KGB director who successfully denied before the international community a so-called Nobel Prize winner from militarily striking Syria?

Not only did the Russian President shame and smash before the bar of the global public opinion the American President, on the question of the impropriety and inappropriateness of bombing Syria; the former has also shown in a clear and comprehensive manner what the world has already known long time ago and that is the irrefutable fact that America is not what it says it is to the planet.

What President Putin did a couple of days ago was really amazing!

Indeed, “millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.””

I am wondering now who is the true hawk and the genuine dove? Who between these two individuals are for peace and for war and naked aggression?

I am not a fan of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, I firmly consider him as an authoritarian leader bordering on being a tyrant.

We all know the state of human rights violations and disrespect for political expression in the former Soviet Union.

Admittedly, it is very hard to believe President Putin as a virtuous man and a man of good will especially the way he dealt with Chechens (and other minorities) with an iron fist; not to mention, most importantly his Macheviallian method of choking all kinds of freedoms and civil liberties in Russia.

Specifically, I will not forgive him for his inhumanity with regard to the case of Pussy Riot rock band (See my article, In Defense of Artistic Freedom and the Freedom of Expression: Political Dissent in Russia through art and music, Etniko Bandido Infoshop, July 30, 2012).

Nonetheless, to quote from the interview of Aleksandr Buzgalin, Professor of Political Economic, Moscow State University, “What’s Putin’s Interest in Syria?”, The Real News Network, September 13th:

“I want to say that I want to talk about interests of Russian people and not about interests of Putin and his colleagues about Russian authorities, because really we have very often big contradictions between these two actors of our social and political life.

“But now I think Putin made something positive. It’s not typical for his internal policy, but for foreign policy this time it’s more or less a progressive step. Why he did it, of course, it’s better to ask Mr. Putin, not me. I am not president of Russia still. But my command will be following. I think Russia is trying to show that our country is one of the important geopolitical actors, players, and we really want to have our presentation in central, this key region of world conflicts and to play our own role. This is, I think, real geopolitical interests of our authorities.

“Also, there are some important reasons, much more important reasons. This is first of all peace and absence of war, absence of killings and killings of thousands and thousands of people, which already started and which can become terrible catastrophe if United States will use modern weapons and Russia will participate in this conflict from another side. It’s really terrible threat which can be compared with Vietnam War, or even more dangerous because Israel is nearby. And this is also very important agent, actor of these conflicts.

“So from my point of view, Russian now is realizing its geopolitical interests. But these interests are more or less adequate, or better to say more adequate for peace in the region than geopolitical interests of the elite of the United States and President Obama.

“And I completely agree with United States citizens, majority of citizens, as I understood, who don’t want to have a war in this region. And this is interest of our people.
“Why Obama did not express interests of majority of Americans and Putin this time expressed interests of not only Russians but I think majority of other people in the world? This is an interesting question. But Russia sometimes can play a positive role in world politics, in spite of the fact that I want to stress again in internal policy our president and our prime minister are realizing not the best variant, definitely not the best variant of economic and social policy.”

Indeed, I am critical of President Putin and Russia’s ultimate motive in resolving this issue of paramount universal importance yet, having said that, I would like to state for purposes of the record that on the specific issue of handling Syria, there is no shadow of doubt that I am on his side!

I commend President Putin in his efforts to derail the American plan of bombing Syria. I also subscribe to his stern criticism of America’s ideology of exceptionalism, militarism and unilateralism.

As President Putin said directly to the American people in his op-ed published by the New York Times, “A Plea for Caution From Russia: What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria”, September 11th:

“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

On the other hand, though critical, I welcomed the election of President Obama. I joined the American and the majority of the international community in his assumption of power in the US five years ago.

I am one of those millions of people who believe that this president will return America to its old path, yet, year by year (he is already on his second and last term) I am getting pissed off and utterly disappointed with him.

Sad but true, but the so-called “change” that he consistently and persuasively proclaimed that we can believe in — turns out to be even worst than their war freak Dubya!

This president has grimly made the so-called American Dream into the worst American Nightmare ever!

This guy, has no difference from his predecessor. Indisputably, Obama is much dangerous and more warmonger than Bush Jr.

Hence, late 2011, I completely junked this bastard fellow!

He kept on saying that the US must intervene with Syria to defend international law, yet they will do so without the sanction of the United Nations and again, disrespecting and bypassing its Security Council.

The question here is: what are the moral ascendency and the legal right of the US to do so, if they are the number one violator of the said international law?

How could they enforce or implement the said law, when they are not respecting it and does not abide by its force?

I do not know whether Obama still remember his pledge to end the wars that he inherited from Dubya! They have yet to settle the on-going war in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the continuous drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, and now, they are so agitated and so bloody eager to intervene on Syria.

It defies the law of logic to say the least.

Does the US know the dire repercussions and the deadly consequences of their latest intended military adventure?

I concur with President Putin’s analysis that:

“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Indeed, if the US proceeded with their folly and madness, the consequences are blatantly grim. The Syrian attack will lead to a regional war and said war might lead to another world war to the prejudice of humanity as a whole.

The People of the World must stand up as One; in preventing at all cost the eruption of this war!

War is against the interest of Humanity; hence we all must declare war on war!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Department of Humanities and Philosophy
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[Press Release] Asian Development Bank: Reconsider Uzbekistan Project-Proposed Project Fails to Address Forced, Child Labor- HRW

Asian Development Bank: Reconsider Uzbekistan Project
Proposed Project Fails to Address Forced, Child Labor


(Manila, September 11, 2013) – The Asian Development Bank should not proceed with its Uzbekistan irrigation project until grave human rights concerns including forced labor are adequately addressed, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said in a letter to the bank’s president released today.

The bank’s board of directors is imminently scheduled to consider the project. The project will benefit the cotton sector, which relies on forced labor, including forced child labor.

“The Asian Development Bank has an important role to play in funding development in Uzbekistan, but it shouldn’t be supporting a system that uses forced labor,” said Jessica Evans, senior advocate for international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch. “The Bank has closed its eyes to the fact that its irrigation project would bolster a cotton-growing system that routinely violates the rights of the people forced to pick the cotton.”

During the 2012 harvest the Uzbek government forced over a million of its own citizens – children and adults – to harvest cotton in abusive conditions under threat of punishment. Regional authorities, police, and school administrators, reporting to the prime minister and other cabinet ministers, transported busloads of children and adults to the country’s cotton fields, where those far from their homes were assigned temporary housing. The workers picked cotton for weeks at a time and were not free to leave. Mobilization is currently under way for the 2013 harvest.

The workers lived in unsanitary conditions, worked from early morning until evening for little or no pay, and some suffered serious injuries and illnesses. Children and youth missed school and college. Adults and older children were required to harvest a minimum of 60 kilograms (or 132 pounds) per day, with younger children required to meet slightly lower quotas.

The Asian Development Bank has made a commitment not to fund activities involving harmful or exploitative forms of forced labor or child labor and to work toward the “elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor.” But the bank has limited its consideration of labor risks related to this project to water sector employees. That restriction is grossly inappropriate, given the known violations of labor rights in cotton production, the economic activity that most benefits from this project, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said.

Further, the Uzbek government officials who are responsible for directing the forced labor of children and adults during the cotton harvest also control the irrigation system in the bank’s project area. Worse still, the bank has tapped these same officials to play a key role in the project grievance redress mechanism.

In addition to relying on forced labor, the tightly controlled, highly centralized structure of the cotton sector in Uzbekistan undermines farmers’ incomes. That is contrary to the bank’s commitments for sustainable economic growth that is inclusive and helps the country’s poor, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said.

“Uzbek cotton farmers are forced to meet state-established cotton quotas, purchase inputs from one state-owned enterprise, and sell the cotton to a state-owned enterprise at artificially low prices,” said Matthew Fischer-Daly, coordinator at Cotton Campaign, a coalition of human rights, labor, investor, and business organizations dedicated to ending forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. “The system traps farmers in poverty, and the state profits from high-priced sales to global buyers.”

On June 11, 2013, the tripartite Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) cited evidence of the “systematic mobilization” of adults and children to pick cotton during Uzbekistan’s 2012 cotton harvest “as well as the substantial negative impact of this practice on the health and education of school-aged children obliged to participate in the cotton harvest.” The committee reiterated its call to Uzbek authorities to invite a high-level ILO observer mission to monitor during the current 2013 harvest.

Also in June, the United States government downgraded Uzbekistan to the lowest category in its human trafficking ranking because of the Uzbek government’s use of forced and child labor.

The current repressive climate for independent civil society organizations in Uzbekistan presents a significant barrier to civic participation and meaningful consultation with those affected by the project. Authorities regularly threaten, imprison, and torture rights defenders and civil society activists, and block international rights groups and media outlets from operating in Uzbekistan. Numerous human rights defenders, independent journalists, and opposition activists are in prison in Uzbekistan in retaliation for their work or criticism of the government.

In September 2012, during the peak of the previous cotton harvest, authorities arrested Uktam Pardaev, a rights activist well known for reporting on police abuses, torture, and forced labor. Pardaev was beaten by several officers during the initial arrest and then held for over 15 days on minor administrative charges of “hooliganism” and “resisting arrest.” Pardaev and other observers believe he was arrested to prevent him from monitoring the use of forced labor of children and adults during the annual harvest.

Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign Recommend that the Asian Development Bank:

Refrain from approving the Modernization and Improved Performance of the Amu Bukhara Irrigation System (ABIS) project until human rights concerns including forced labor and child labor are addressed.
Raise with the Uzbek government, both publicly and privately, concerns about forced labor and other ongoing serious human rights violations in the country, including through the bank’s country strategy for Uzbekistan, and work with the government to address these concerns.
In recognition of the importance of civic participation and social accountability for development, urge the Uzbek government to amend its restrictive laws and practices governing operation of nongovernmental groups to bring them into line with the international human rights standards regarding freedom of association, expression, speech, and assembly.

“The Asian Development Bank has a responsibility to ensure it doesn’t fund projects that violate human rights,” Evans said. “It has not lived up to this responsibility in its proposed Uzbekistan project.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s recent report, “Abuse-Free Development: How the World Bank Should Safeguard Against Human Rights Violations,” please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on forced labor of children and adults in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Uzbekistan, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on international financial institutions, please visit:

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[Press Release] PM slams P10 wage hike as a “cruel Napoles joke”

Group slams P10 wage hike as a “cruel Napoles joke”


The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the P10 wage hike in the National Capital Region (NCR) as a “cruel Napoles joke” inflicted on the workers. “Janet Napoles steals P10 billion from the people’s money and the government offers P10 in coins to workers as a consolation. While the people’s attention is focused on the billion peso pork barrel scam, the wage board thinks it can quietly dupe workers with a measly pay increase,” insisted Wilson Fortaleza, PM’s spokesperson.

Meanwhile PM called on the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) which had filed a P83 across-the-board wage petition to coordinate with other labor groups to protest the NCR wage board’s decision and launch a joint campaign for a living wage. “The TUCP’s rejection of the wage board’s decision is a good initial move. The next step should be to complement the TUCP’s appeal to the wage board with a call on workers to hold mass actions. If the middle class finds it necessary to call a Million People March for the abolition of the pork barrel, it is imperative on the working class to launch a mass movement to end the cheap labor policy,” Fortaleza argued.

He added that the P10 wage hike is a “dagdag-bawi scam.” “Government decides to give workers a P10 hike in wages but it will take it back with the proposed P10 increase in fares for the MRT and LRT. Further, prices of basic goods like rice have inflated so that in the end, workers are worse off than before,” Fortaleza explained.

“PM’s own study reveals that the cost of living in the NCR is already P1,200 as of April this year for a family of six and yet the new minimum wage adds up to only P466, which will not even buy half of the basket of goods and services,” Fortaleza said.

He continued that “This is the ugly reality of inequality in our country. The Philippines is the fastest growing economy in Asia yet only a few, the capitalist class, is benefiting from the increased wealth created by the working people. The assets of the ten richest Filipinos amount to some US$45 billion, which is equivalent to the yearly wages of 20 million minimum wage earners.”

PM contends that the wage boards have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced by a Wage Commission. Fortaleza stated that “The mandate of the National Wage Commission will be to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. This is different from the wage boards which are bogged down by convoluted and contradictory 10-point criteria in fixing wages. The Wage Commission should raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage by a mix of mechanisms such as direct pay increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers.”

Press Release
September 7, 2013

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[Int’l/Petition] A Solution for Syria -www.avaaz.org

A Solution for Syria-www.avaaz.org

Photo source avaaz


Dear friends,

Just weeks ago the kids in this image were gassed to death in their sleep. There is one peaceful way to stop these massacres – if Iran and the US sit down to talks and bring the warring parties to the table to get a ceasefire. For the first time the two Presidents are showing dialogue is possible. Let’s tell them the world wants talks to start saving lives now! Sign up:

Sign the petition
Just weeks ago the kids in this image were gassed to death in their sleep, but it feels the world has forgotten them and got stuck in a debate between US strikes or doing nothing. Now there is a glimmer of hope for a peaceful way to stop these massacres.

Syria’s bloody war has been fuelled by rivalry between Iran, Assad‘s main backer, and the US and their allies. But this vile chemical attack has changed their discourse: Iran’s new moderate president condemned the gassing and Obama signalled he’d work with “anybody” to resolve the conflict. Let’s urgently call on both leaders to sit down to talks and bring the warring parties together before any more lives are lost.

Right now, the global drums of war are beating over Syria, but if enough of us make sure Rouhani and Obama know the world wants bold diplomacy, we could end the nightmare for thousands of terrified Syrian children under threat of new gas attacks. We have no time to lose. Click now to join this urgent call — when we reach one million signers we will deliver the petition directly to the two presidents:


Syria’s the most brutal war of our generation, and this chemical attack on innocent civilians is the worst our world has seen in 30 years. The world has a responsibility to protect Syrians from extermination, but for two years the international community has been shamefully gridlocked and has failed the innocent victims. Now, despite overwhelming evidence that Assad’s forces launched the attack, Syria’s backers have sown doubt and, wary of war, the world is unsure about a humanitarian intervention. These talks are a new chance to stop the bloodshed.

It’s always been believed that the US would never talk to Iran and that Iran would never help the US solve the Syrian crisis, but current evidence points to change and hope. President Obama may launch strikes, but he has no public support for a longer war, and he is looking for a way out of a sustained conflict. And 130 members of the US Congress are calling on President Obama to talk with Iran. A massive global public push for diplomacy right now could push Obama towards talks.

Iran’s former President Ahmadinejad spent billions supplying cash and weapons to the Assad regime. But the new President Rouhani was elected on a ticket to build bridges with the West and favours a political settlement with the Syrian opposition. The chemical attack is eroding Iranian public support for Assad, rekindling painful memories of Iraq’s gas attacks on Iran, and insiders say pressure is building to reconsider Iran’s support for Assad. This could be a tipping point to bring Rouhani to the table.

Talks won’t stop the horror overnight, but there is no quick and easy solution. We urgently need to get started on a path that can stop the killing of innocent children and bring the world closer together rather than tear us further apart. Let’s get the US and Iran to start talks now:


A roadmap has already been put in motion for a Syrian peace process in Geneva, but this is the first time there could be the political will to overlook all the differences and sit down. Iran is the only country in the world with sufficient influence in Syria to push the regime to the table. And the US, with its Middle East allies, can push the opposition to sit down.

It took the horror of the Second World War to get the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights. Maybe the horror of Syria might finally push the US and Iran, and their moderate presidents, to address longstanding differences and build the basis for a more lasting peace for Syria and the region, with consequences for a host of global issues from nuclear proliferation to peace in Israel and Palestine. Our community has stood by the Syrian people from the very beginning. Now they need us more than ever. Let’s give it our best shot.

With hope,

Alice, Luis, Ian, Emily, Bissan, Antonia, Ricken, Lisa, Mais and the whole Avaaz team

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[From the web] The Broken “New Normal” and the G20 Mirage by Dorothy-Grace Guerrero

The Broken “New Normal” and the G20 Mirage
by Dorothy-Grace Guerrero


That is a mirage, cheap mirage, revolting, romantic and fantastical — that’s another ball on Lake Como.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground

The Group of Twenty (G20), informally recognized as “the other UN”, is an unofficial, unaccountable, yet very powerful platform for international cooperation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda. It was originally set up to deal with the global implications of the Asian financial crisis in 1998 with goals ‘to provide a new mechanism for informal dialogue in the framework of the Bretton Woods institutional system, to broaden the discussions on key economic and financial policy issues among systemically significant economies and promote cooperation to achieve stable and sustainable world economic growth that benefits all’[i].

Although the idea to broaden the international architecture beyond the G-7 or G-10 developed during the early 1990s in the U.S. Treasury, Paul Martin, Canada’s finance minister, championed the idea that emerging economies must be part of the solution to the Asian crisis within the G-7. Germany supported the idea of a new forum, and shepherded it through the G-7 summit process[ii]. The G20 brings together leaders, finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by Head of the European Central Bank.

The geo-political reconfiguration of the international system due to the relative weakening of the US, the still unresolved crisis in the Eurozone and the rise of new powers such as the BRICS countries (China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa), brought about a changed global power rivalry. US president George W. Bush elevated the grouping into a Summit of Leaders in 2008 to enable it to deal with the financial crisis that started from the US and the EU economies, which they could not fix themselves. Since then this self-selected clique of big and emerging powers designated themselves as the new steering group for the global economy.

Non-G20 governments, intellectuals, and activists (antiglobalists, alterglobalists, etc.) have questioned its legitimacy and reason for existence. G20 Summits also became a focus for protests. Although it does not have the power to create policies and arrive at legally binding agreements, it undermines the UN process and insufficiently represents poor countries. Its track record of failures (for example, in resolving the Asian crisis in 1998 and the 2008 crisis originating in the US and EU) and unwillingness to veer away from neoliberalism has condemned the global economy into a vicious cycle of recurring economic crises. The Financial Times refer to the cycle as “an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse”[iii].

It is not comforting to the poor in developing countries that new actors are joining the big league. The rise of new powers like the BRICS countries and their actions, so far, have yet to prove that they are offering a new and better leadership in global governance. If we look in the recent World Bank and UNCTAD experiences of selecting leaders and making decisions on how the financial crisis should be managed, we could see that rich countries will not easily give up their control of the global institutions.

It is still a big question if the BRICS countries are offering a positive alternative of economic and social progress to other developing countries. However, what is becoming increasing clear is that these new powers are merely continuing the same or more intense practices of exploitation and extraction of resources from poorer countries to further enrich themselves. The G20, instead of providing an alternative is merely resuscitating a flagging and failing capitalist system. It is giving new energy to the same unsustainable and unjust paradigm that facilitates the accumulation of wealth by a few while resulting in dispossession and pauperization of the already marginalized and disempowered.

Read full article @focusweb.org

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