Archive for the ‘Changing Reality’ Category

Warscape: Rape and Commerce in the DRC

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Congo Week: Day Five

 

Guest Post from:

Pamela Scully

Professor of Women’s Studies and African Studies,

Chair of Dept of Women’s Studies

Emory University

 

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This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Emory University Professor Pamela Scully examines “economic Warscape” — the use of rape as a weapon of war and a means of driving profit. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.

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The Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a perfect example of what I call an economic Warscape—a place where individuals, groups, and companies profit off systemic and systematic violence.  Structures of exploitation in the DRC now depend on fermenting and regulating “chaos.” What look like random acts of rape and terror, are in fact part of complex negotiations and structures that have emerged in the eastern DRC in the conflagration of the region in the wake of Rwandan genocide of 1994.

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Getting Active for Congo

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

 

Congo Week: Day Four

 

Guest Post from:

Sadia Hameed

Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager, the Enough Project

 

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This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – The Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager Sadia Hameed takes a look at the differences she observed in the DRC as a result of action by Congolese civil society, U.S. consumers and constituents – and the need to get, and stay, involved. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.

 

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After spending over a week in eastern Congo I find myself staring out of my office window watching the bustle of DC streets contemplating how to give voice to the many complexities that I learned, witnessed and discussed in my exchanges with Congolese men, women and youth. One clear recollection I have is how not a single person I met or spoke with was unaffected by the conflict – it is pervasive and touches everyone, even if they have not been directly targeted by armed groups.  Their stories told tales of surviving brutality that I can barely begin to digest, but despite the haunting sorrow, trauma and loss recounted, they each emanated strength and conviction that a future unstained by death and devastation will be realized. Their sheer resilience in the face of steep challenges was both staggering and deeply inspiring. I witnessed the energy of Congolese professionals, activists and survivors, actively engaged in combating the effects of conflict and finding solutions toward peace and stability, often at the risk of their lives, security and bodily integrity.

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Finding a Voice for the DRC

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

 

Congo Week: Day Three

 

Guest Post from:

Patricia Sula

 

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This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Congolese activist Patricia Sula talks about cross-generational hopes for positive change in the DRC. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.

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“Never forget the blood running through you is Congolese. Nothing else.” This is something I heard my mother say a thousand times. Nowadays when she starts saying it, I just finish her sentence; “Yes, Mom I know I know I’m Congolese.”

I grew up in the United States but was born in the heart of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I don’t remember Congo but I’ve been there a thousand times. As a child I would spend hours at my father’s feet. For bedtime stories he told tales of the life he lived in the DRC. He told me how rich our culture was and how beautiful the land was, “A paradise on earth” he would say. As an adult today, I clearly see the sadness in my father’s eyes reflect in my own, but his patriotism is still there every time we discuss our native land, a land that has known a war since 1996.

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Courage for Change in the DRC

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Congo Week: Day Two

Guest Post from:

Miss Congo Unity

 

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This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and help end the violence. All week I will be featuring blog posts related to the DRC from activists, academics and Congolese citizens.

Today – Miss Congo Unity talks about courage and what inspires her to keep advocating for change in the DRC. The views are her own. Global Citizen has done only mild editing for length and clarity.

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My name is Kapinga Marie-Christelle Tshinanga. I am Congolese-American. To be specific: Congolese, as in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…capital Kinshasa, not Brazzaville.

As a high-schooler, I was once asked which Congo I was from; I responded with a puzzled face. To help me, the inquirer threw in some multiple choices: “Kinshasa or Brazzaville?” and I replied quickly to hide the embarrassment: shouldn’t I have known there are two African countries dubbed “Congo”?

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Help Me Break the Silence

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

 

Congo Week: Day One

 

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What do you think of when you think of the Democratic Republic of Congo?

What’s that you say?!? You don’t think of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Hardly surprising.

Let’s be honest. Most people would be hard pressed to say what a Democratic Republic of Congo is, much less spend a lot of time thinking about it.

Well, we should.

And yes, of course, I am going to tell you why ….

Because each and every one of us can play a role –

without even leaving our chairs –

to stop one of the most horrific conflicts in the world.

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, is a country in Africa ravaged by a conflict driven by competing forces’ desire for control of the country’s vast resources of copper, tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and cobalt. This conflict has been marked by some of the world’s most egregious cases of sexual violence perpetrated against civilian populations for the sole purpose of sowing fear and forcing submission. Armed combatants follow no acceptable rules of war – even the country’s army is regularly accused of participating in abusive practices and seeking control of funds generated by mining. Children and families are forced to work in inhumane conditions.  Death stalks the Congolese hour after hour, day after day, month after month ….

Like the “blood diamonds” of Sierra Leone, profits from the sale of DRC’s minerals are used to fund the conflict. Like the “blood diamonds” the appetite of global markets – via computers, cell phones and other electronics – is helping the trade.

This week – October 17 – 23 – Friends of the Congo is running its third Congo Week – Breaking the Silence – in a bid to raise awareness of the conflict in the DRC and help end the violence.

So what can you do?

 

EASY.

 

Keep reading. All this week, I will be featuring guest bloggers each with a unique voice and viewpoint on the DRC, the conflict, and what we can do to help stop it.

Spread the word. Help me break the silence by sharing the blog posts via Twitter, Facebook and any other way you like.

Get informed.  Learn about the DRC and our role in the ongoing conflict. Read things like this recent piece from actress Ashley Judd and the Enough Project’s Jon Prendergast on the DRC, minerals and cell phones.

Take action. Friends of the Congo, The Enough Project and others consistently champion efforts to improve the situation in the DRC that contain actions members of the public can take to get involved.

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Lost – the new series

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

 

It’s official.

The producers, directors, and everyone else in charge of

my two favorite television shows have lost their minds.

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First up – the show I still have hope for. True Blood.

Last night, we watched Eric Northman stroll out into the sun and certain death in a bid to defeat Russell Edgington. The problem here is that Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgard is the best character/actor/casting-combo on the show.

If Eric does not survive the season finale (which HBO just had to postpone for two weeks) it is likely True Blood will lose a lot of viewers …. Including me. For the record, I do not actually believe Eric will cease to exist ….not because I have read the books on which the series is based, but because it would be numbers suicide for the show. I just felt the need to express myself on that particular plot development.

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Now for the second –

 Dancing with the Stars which announced the line up for the new season yesterday.

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For the people of Pakistan

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

 

As per my own weird-little-norm-of-obsessive-news-following I have been tracking the floods in Pakistan for a couple of weeks. I quietly did my part, sending what I could to help affected families.

But it wasn’t until this morning that I decided to come out publicly and urge people to get involved.

Why?

Because according to numerous new reports, like this one from Canada’s Globe and Mail, two major reasons relief agencies are having such a hard time raising funds to help people in the affected areas are:

Not enough global media coverage.

Pakistan suffers from an image deficit.

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Are you Blogivated?!?

Monday, August 9th, 2010

“I have signed up to participate in the Clean Water Blogivation campaign. If my blog receives the most votes, I will win an opportunity to join Dr. Greg Allgood on a clean water expedition to Africa and a $15,000 donation to my favorite charity tackling water issues.”

Few days ago, Proctor & Gamble’s GIVE HEALTH program launched the Clean Water Blogivation campaign asking bloggers to post about water issues and their desire to foment change – and to then urge their friends and readers to vote for the entry. The post with the most votes wins $15,000 to donate to their water-related charity of choice.

EVERY TIME YOU VOTE,  (and you can vote EVERY day) P&G will donate

a day’s worth of clean drinking water to an individual in a developing country.

 

You can vote now, here:

(NOTE: Remember to click through boxes OR the verification email they send! I didn’t … so my own vote didn’t count the first time!)

Per the campaign’s rules, I am supposed to say why I am, or want to be, a Change Agent to help provide clean drinking water to people in developing countries.

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North Korea LoveFest

Friday, July 30th, 2010

For the second time in two months, my heart is with the North Korean football (soccer) team.

News reports say the team – which turned in a gutsy and sportsmanlike performance at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – and its coach have been publicly shamed in a 6-hour harangue by party officials and ministers. As the Telegraph wrote:

The players were subjected to a “grand debate” on July 2 because they failed in their “ideological struggle” to succeed in South Africa, Radio Free Asia and South Korean media reported.

The team’s coach, Kim Jong-hun, was reportedly forced to become a builder and has been expelled from the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The coach was punished for “betraying” Kim Jong-un – one of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il’s sons and heir apparent.

Following ideological criticism, the players were then allegedly forced to blame the coach for their defeats.

Sure North Korea went out in the first round.

Yes, they lost miserably to Portugal 7- 0.

And, yes, *sigh* it is hardly surprising

to hear the North Korean regime express displeasure.

But the truth is that the ruling cadres are just missing the point.

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Twitter Hosts a Different Kind of Tea Party

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

When I think of a cup of tea, I think: calm, tranquil, serene. The mental picture is two hands on a steaming cup, eyes closed while I breathe in vapors that tantalize the senses with hints of chamomile, mint or citrus smells (depending on my mood).  Now thanks to a story from the Associated Press this week on Chinese activists going online to blast “drinking tea” warnings by meddlesome authorities, I’ll never see that cup of tea quite the same way.

According to the Associated Press story:

Police have long tried to shush and isolate potential activists, usually starting with a low-key warning, perhaps over a meal or a cup of tea. Now, the country’s troublemakers are openly blogging and tweeting their stories about “drinking tea” with the cops, allowing the targeted citizens to bond and diluting the intimidation they feel.

The movement is an embarrassment for officials, who are suspicious of anything that looks like an organized challenge to their authority. And it can’t help that “drinking tea” stories seem to be spreading among ordinary Chinese, including ones who signed a recent online call for political reform.

The country’s top political event of the year, the National People’s Congress, has given the stories another bump. More than 200 people say they’ve been invited by police to “drink tea” since just Friday, when the congress began, said independent political blogger Ran Yunfei.

 That Chinese activists found ways to go around official censorship of the Internet and get their stories out to others helps increased a sense of community for those under scrutiny and reinforces the power potential of the Internet.

 As we saw in Iran following the disputed June 2009 elections and for Haiti after January’s massive earthquake social media like Twitter can simultaneously allow users to spread information about events and draw in a truly international “coalition” of people who feel the same or empathize with the challenges. Those coalition members can and have raised the profile of the issue, raised money and provided invaluable moral support to those struggling through difficult situations.

 It’s a strange kind of magic that unfolds via spells crafted of 140 characters or less. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what practitioners come up with next.